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Art Angle: The craft of building community

By Jason Myerson on October 12, 2017

Art Angle is a new column by Apt613 contributor Jason Myerson. Speaking with Ottawa artists about their craft and the creation of a business, Jason has met artists who knit, chop, chat, paint, write, tattoo, and build fairy houses from forest detritus—truth. Their stories are a curious mix of personality and of the professional.


“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”
—James Humes

 

Typically, when we attend craft shows, we’re naive to the amount of scaffolding of organization taken for its survival, and the significance that the event holds to the community as a whole. We’re there to shop, scan, and maybe even scrutinize. “I could do that,” I sometimes hear from cheeky scuttlebutt. It brings a sideways smile to my face knowing that person could indeed make that, but never will. We graze through the goods without really appreciating the tangible output of the artist, let alone the ringleader of the entire show. But, if you look closely at the onlookers you’ll catch among the crowd the anxious eyes, yet satisfied smile of the orchestrator of it all. “It really comes down to event crisis management,” Amanda says with a light laugh. If you’ve ever been to a craft-show in Ottawa chances are it was created by Amanda Cockburn.

Amanda Cockburn is a mother of two and with a background in communications, her ability to bring people together comes from exceptional practice and dedication. Formerly an employee of a major fashion store, Amanda began to realize the decline in quality and customer care from its profit driven mentality. The many years employed in retail and observing the inefficiencies and unpleasantries of working for someone who would rather focus on the dollar while looking past the person left Amanda feeling drained not of only energy, but also self worth. She was seeking to make a difference in her community and always had the entrepreneurial drive to build something. In 2015, she built an environment where people could be brought together who were genuine to their craft and in their character. Up until that point, Amanda remember’s coming home from working her day job only to start work on her passion project into the wee hours of the night.

Since then she has worked feverishly to create her own future in the arena of craft show creator, and coordinator. Freewheeling Craft is the creation that bloomed and connects consumers with local artists. But, it’s more than that. Expressing her true calling and far from the corporate rigmarole, Amanda has taken the path less travelled. Speaking with her I realized how bumpy, thorny, and yet rewarding that path can be. To stimulate the reemerging of local markets and bring together a community in which creative people can cultivate their craft while promoting their business is an opportunity fought for in the restless ambition that Amanda possesses. The pursuit that has furthered other’s opportunities by proxy.

Now, it’s anything but easy and when it comes to building events Amanda agrees it’s a safe bet that we can quote Murphy’s Law, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Especially when Amanda had never previously ran events before. “The learning curve was steep but if you’re not afraid to fail,” she tells me, “you can achieve incredible results.” Before you can find balance when you’ve undertaken a new venture, you must first weigh heavily on the odds. That weight grows in your favour from the amount of focus and determination you consistently put forward to make a change in your life while considering others, as well.

To stimulate the reemerging of local markets and bring together a community in which creative people can cultivate their craft while promoting their business is an opportunity fought for in the restless ambition that Amanda possesses.

Since 2015, Amanda has helped to develop the local economy by bringing together resilient and creative makers that contribute their talents for Ottawa residents to enjoy. Amanda’s experience with communications to community building has enriched the local indie-maker movement and she continues to set the stage for future interactive inspiring experiences. A significant endeavour we should all be made aware of. So come join our Ottawa community in celebrating the upcoming Fall For Indie event with over 100 modern makers October 14 and 15 at Makerspace North (250 City Centre Avenue) and meet our local artists and the people that make it all possible. You can stay in the loop by checking the Facebook event page or the Freewheeling Craft website.


The Fall for Indie craft market takes place on October 14 and 15 at Makerspace North (250 City Centre Avenue).