On Friday, Nov. 19 the Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) launched their 2021 Holiday Sale online for the public to purchase and enjoy handmade artwork and crafts. Whether you’re purchasing something for yourself to enjoy or gifts for family and friends during the holidays, MECA&D’s sale has something for everyone. There is also a wide range of prices, making the sale accessible to a larger audience.
In the 1980s, the Holiday Sale began as a student-organized fundraiser. Over the years, it has grown in size and scope to become a popular community event in Portland, Maine. Before the pandemic and the shift to an online format, the sale was a two-day event held on the first Friday of December.
The Holiday Sale features the work of 42 artists, including many graduate students and alumni. In addition, there are pieces for sale from members of MECA&D’s Continuing & Professional Studies Department. There are over 300 pieces being sold during this online sale.
Artists Maisie Broome, Ashley Page and Missie Yasko were tasked as jurors to select which pieces would be sold during this year’s sale.
Isabelle O’Donnell, the associate director of Artists at Work at MECA&D, is one of the lead organizers of the Holiday Sale. Although the decision to keep the sale online this year wasn’t an easy one, she is hopeful about the outlook of the sale’s success with the public.
“This is our second year of it being online,” O’Donnell said. “We list everything on the site, and then the artists ship out the work themselves to the buyers. There’s really quite a range and that’s been the goal. To have different types of work but also a range of price points so that it’s really accessible to people.”
One alumni artist featured in the sale is Evelyn Wong. Wong graduated from MECA&D in 2019 with her MFA, and since then has been working as an artist in her at-home studio. Her artwork consists of many different styles, and she currently is working with her start-up business Fireball Bookbindery, which features journals and stationery.
“I decided I was going to focus on creating journals and stationery that were really geared for an Asian American audience, or to celebrate an Asian American design and aesthetic in the home,” Wong said.
Wong is an interdisciplinary artist, expanding her work from being a botanical artist to doing craft arts, drawing, painting, illustrating and sculpture and installation.
“That’s where my focus is for the Holiday Sale,” Wong said. “Pulling together some of my interdisciplinary practices.”
To Wong, spreading awareness and bringing attention to Asian American culture is the primary aspect she hopes the public will take away from her artwork in the Holiday Sale.
“Maine doesn’t have a large Asian population, so I’d say bringing an awareness to what our design and aesthetics is and really being able to celebrate it as a part of America is me saying this is American art,” Wong said.
Another alumni artist, Hannah Rosengren, who graduated from MECA&D’s illustration program in 2013, also has pieces of artwork being sold in the Holiday Sale. Since graduating, she has worked as a freelance illustrator.
“I draw inspiration from the natural world and mid-century modern design for my work, often illustrating plants and pollinators,” Rosengren said. “I’m especially passionate about encouraging environmental stewardship through illustration, and focusing on sustainability as a small business by sourcing recycled and locally-made products whenever possible.”
You can expect to see a range of Rosengren’s artwork in the Holiday Sale this year.
“I’m excited to be selling zines, pins, coloring books, seed bombs, stickers, tote bags and prints in this year’s Holiday Sale,” Rosengren said. “I hope buyers feel a sense of joy from my products, whether they wear an enamel pin, hang up an art print in their home or plant seed bombs in their garden. Every time I make a sale, I feel so grateful that someone wants to support a small business and that they enjoy something I created.”
The Holiday Sale also features artwork from Little Something Co., which consists of alumni artists Sam Myrdek ‘19, Sarah Sawtelle ‘19 and Bella Ucci ‘18. The company is based out of Portland, Maine, and the trio of women work together to create their products.
“The three of us share a knack for collecting stickers and decided to start illustrating and designing our products in 2021,” the members of Little Something Co. said. “We create stickers and cards with quirky, sometimes Maine-related themes, that aim to brighten anyone’s day.”
Their artwork is not only featured at the Holiday Sale, but can also be found in other online stores and in multiple in-person locations.
“We’re vendors at MECA&D’s Holiday Sale this year and currently run an Etsy shop, as well as multiple social media accounts for Little Something Co.,” the members of Little Something Co. said. “Our stickers and cards can currently be found at Hills & Trails in Biddeford, ME, as well as the Center for Maine Craft in Gardiner, ME, and their second location in Portland, ME.”
Little Something Co. hopes buyers of the Holiday Sale are able to find themselves within their work.
“We hope that buyers can find ways to express themselves through our products,” the members of Little Something Co. said. “We always keep our personalities and interests in mind when creating our designs and hope that our individuality resonates with our customers. We also hope that our products put a smile on someone’s face and aren’t taken too seriously. Little Something Co. is a creative outlet that brings us joy every day and we hope that happiness is translated through our products!”
The money from purchases will not only go to the artists whose work is being sold, but toward scholarships for MECA&D students as well.
MECA&D’s 2021 Holiday Sale will be available online to the public until Dec. 10. You can find more information on the Holiday Sale at mecashop.meca.edu.