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Renegade Craft Fair

December 11, 2015

Alex Steele

Maker Spotlight

Alex Steele, Handpainted Shirts

Our LA Holiday Fair is going to be dangerous for our wallets. Too many incredible vendors are headed to Grand Park, one in particular being Oakland based artist, Alex Steele. Look out for these textiles, jewelry, and accessories this weekend!

Alex Steele, Braided Necklaces

Have you always been passionate about design?

I have always been passionate about art and design. Making it, observing it, interacting with it.  If I am not producing creative work, I feel off-center, and when I find my drive of inspiration, I can’t stop! It feels like art is actually what I am made of.

When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

I started working towards building a  brand of wearable and functional  art because I wanted to merge my interdisciplinary art  background into the craft world to make my art more attainable. I saw an outlet for creating art that is not meant to be untouchable, by individually hand painting designs on clothing. I have continued to make textile artwork that can be worn (painted clothing, collage apparel, Jewelry)  and design what can be used in the home (pillows that are  painted and collaged, concrete sculptures). I also can’t keep my hands or my mind from working with different mediums, and I found that working in the realm of craft fairs is the perfect place for me to exhibit the miscellaneous things I make and sell them (a reward for something I am going to be making anyway!)

Alex Steele, studio process

What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

I think what makes my work stand out is the fact that each piece is not screen printed, or stenciled….I am hand painting everything in multiples, or in some cases there are one of a kinds. This is what I find most satisfying and special about what I do. Everything is going to be its own version.

Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

Well, I think becoming unemployed was somewhat of a failure even though it was not to my fault. But, it turns out you can really make your dreams happen when you are left with your thoughts to realize what it is you would rather be doing with your life.

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Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

It’s hardly a sacrifice to be creating my business because I would be making what I am making regardless of earning money from it. But, I guess the sacrificing comes in the form of isolation in order to focus. Creating a business  is also very costly, but I would rather spend my money on funding my business future than other things.  And no, I don’t regret anything so far. Even participating in some craft fairs that were not well attended, because it is all experience that helps me grow.

What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

I think it is when I see my work posted or written about, like this feature!

How does the city you live in influence your work?

Living in the Bay Area for a decade now has influenced my work in the form of colors, material, and production. I live in a city with an abundance of craft fairs and venues that support artists, with a public appreciation for the hand crafted.

What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

I have experience in the construction and preparation of museum exhibits and dioramas, as well as in retail visual merchandising. Both have been extremely helpful in honing the craft and presentation of my work, including the display of my booth at craft fairs. 

Alex Steele, collage bag

What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

I did it because if I am going to be working full time on anything, it’s going to be on my own dream.

What are some inspirations for your work?

I love African mud cloths, Egyptian art, Atelier Bingo, Miami (my hometown), nature, hardware stores, salvage yards, scraps of fabric or paper, architecture, Keith Haring, music, sex.

What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Most importantly, believe in yourself. Secondly, turn your influences into an inspiration and make it your own. And, just keep doing what it is you do, you’ll only get better.

Alex Steele, Pillows

What are you most excited to see this weekend at our LA Fair? Don’t forget to swing by Grand Park from 10-5 and be sure to say hello to Alex in person. In the meantime, stay up to date with Alex Steele online here: