Local artists bring work, stories to Hidden Grounds’ Arts & Crafts Fair


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Olivia Gerrits


Hidden Grounds devoted their space last Friday night to some of New Brunswick’s up-and-coming artists and crafters, who packed into the Easton Avenue hotspot with nothing but their creations and a dream. Droves of shoppers stopped by the fifth installment of HG’s Arts & Crafts Fair to support the Rutgers students, and one alumna, displaying their art and passions for all to see (and hopefully buy). Inside Beat has the scoop on the creative forces behind the tables, whose stories were as diverse as the products they sold.

Roberta Day, Mason Gross School of the Arts senior
Roberta Day Art, print making

IB: How did you get started doing this?

Day: I was studying abroad in Florence, Italy, and our teacher told us we could either print on fabric or paper. I did fabric because I already had taken a silk screen class working with paper. I created other prints that are more pattern-like and wanted to see how they would sell, so I created an Etsy. I've done other craft fairs, this is my third one. I got really into art when I was little, but then more so in high school. I knew then that I wanted to go to school for art. My first year, I wasn't sure what concentration I wanted to pursue, but then I took a print making class and I really loved it. Print really stuck to me, and I think it's good because it has the aesthetic of drawing as well, which was what I really wanted to do at first but wasn't sure how to make it into a career.

IB: What is your background as an artist? 

Day: Some of my work is abstract and really detailed, so I focus on detailed line work.

Rachel Seungyun Shin, School of Arts and Sciences senior
Yeonnistore, minimalistic jewelry, custom art, realistic portraits

IB: How did you get started with your business?

Shin: I always wanted to go to art school ever since I was little, but, you know, my stereotypical Asian parents wanted me to go to medical school or law school, so I kind of put it aside. But in college, I realized art and drawing and jewelry making and arts and crafts are things I really have a passion for. Whenever I'm stressed from exams I always found myself just drawing something or crafting something ridiculous, so I had this pile of things that I had made in my room and then whenever I would wear my own stuff or design my own school supplies, I would get a pretty positive response from people. I started a store January of this year, and since people seemed interested, I thought I might as well take a risk and go for it. I opened up an Etsy store, took the pictures and tried to be all artsy with my iPhone. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and I started getting a really good response, especially for my chokers. I'm not rich at all, and I thought this would be a great thing to do on the side to help pay rent. Admittedly, I'm not there yet, so I'm here tonight to kind of get my name out there and be like, "Hi! I do things."

IB: What would you say your style is?

Shin: I'm a very minimal person, I don't like clutter. If you see my room, it's very black, white and grey. Because there are so many things going on in my mind, I like things to be very minimal and clean. So even for my post cards and drawings, you look at it and you get what it is. It's a post card, I drew it, here you go. A lot of my art shows my personality, and as you can see there are a lot of punny post cards for days when I feel kind of aloof, and then I have my more emotional ones. All my drawings have a story behind them that reflect how I was feeling that day.

Usra & Sarah Attalla, Mason Gross School of the Arts first-year students
The Mug Shop

IB: Do you want to talk a little about your business?

Usra: Ever since our junior year of high school, we started selling mugs together. It was kind of like a one-on-one thing. We would kind of just make them like, "Look what we can do!" Pretty much, people would request something and that's how most of our mugs came about. We're mostly custom, but for (the Arts and Craft Fair) we did some different stuff hoping maybe people would like it. After about a year of selling them in person, we started an Etsy to see how it would go and that's how we are where we are now.

IB: What are your artistic backgrounds?

Sarah: We've basically been in art classes since we were young, and we took AP studio art. We applied to the Mason Gross program and got in, and now we're studying design.

IB: Do you two do pretty much everything together?

Ursa: Yeah! We do everything together.

Hannah Gerber, School of Arts and Sciences senior
Teatorch, soy candles in upcycled teacups

IB: How did you get involved in upcycled tea cup candles?

Gerber: It actually totally just started as me trying to make a present for my boyfriend's family. I found some really cool tea cups in the thrift store and I decided, "Hey I'm gonna make candles with them." So then I started making them, and I got really positive feedback from his family and then I had friends who started saying, "Oh, I want one of those!"

IB: It seems like you started this spontaneously. Is that how you see it?

Gerber: Yeah! I'm not super determined to succeed with this, and that's like my end goal. It's just kind of like a hobby thing.

IB: What goes into making the candles?

Gerber: So all my candles are made with soy, and they're low-smoke wicks so they are good for the environment. Basically, you just melt down the soy wax, and then originally I started with fragrances that were only floral because I love floral scents. And then I kind of branched out and did other scents. I have caramel latte, I have eucalypti and mints. It turned into all different fragrances. You melt the wax down, you add the scents when it gets to the proper temperature, add the wicks, pour into the cups and you're done.


Olivia Gerrits, Mason Gross School of the Arts senior
Custom prints

IB: Can you give me some of your background as an artist?

Gerrits: I’ve always been interested in art. I went to Mason Gross to concentrate in painting and then I took a class in print making and it was a totally new world for me. Mason Gross is particularly great for print making because we have a nice big shop. A lot of renowned artists come there and there’s something called a print master, and he prints the famous artists’ work. So a lot of the students in the print making program get to meet incredible artists and work under him.

IB: Is this your first craft fair?

Gerrits: This is my second one, I don’t have an official business, but since the school allows me so much access to all their printing presses, I figured just to make a little extra money, why not use them and try to make some cards? I already make a ton of fine art prints, those are a little harder to sell, so that’s why I figured maybe start making some stationary.

IB: What inspires you? What would you say your aesthetic is?

Gerrits: It’s changing right now, but a big inspiration would be Japanese woodblock prints and the artist Mathis, who had a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year that really inspired me. I’m constantly inspired, looking at art at museums and galleries, and also just always constantly being around other working artists and students inspires me. We always are talking to each other about things we’re working on and inspiring each other and pushing each other.

Dory Eng, Rutgers alumna
Hikari wo Sagasu, custom crafts and jewelry

IB: How did you get started with your business?

Eng: Hikari wo Sagasu means "searching for light" in Japanese. I love my accessories, of course, and when I would go to the store I would think to myself, "I could probably make this." So I started shopping at craft stores and then I just got really into it and started expanding my line. I really love flowers and making things. One of my best-known items is the origami rose, they're actually made of paper and then I glaze them over so they're waterproof and very durable. They're perfect for hair, and they're very versatile and good for wedding gifts, I had a bride order some for her bridal party. To make one rose, it usually takes about 10 minutes and two hours of drying time.

IB: What inspires you?

Eng: I was in Japan for a while, and I've always been into Japanese anime and I love Japanese kimono fashion and Gothic Lolita fashion. Kawaii is a big, big thing. Everything cute is a really big deal, especially nowadays. Hello Kitty is everywhere!

IB: Is this something you do in your spare time, or are you hoping to turn this into a career?

Eng: I'm just going with it, but I would love to make this into a full-time thing. Right now I have a full-time job in a doctor's office, but because of that job I'm able to go to a lot of conventions and shows. I really enjoy doing it. I've been to about 14 events.


MaryEllen Cagnassola

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