Edmontonians are stepping up to help support local artists and online options as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and many in-person events have been cancelled.
One local project, the Edmontonia Trading Card set, launched in May but its creator Michael Hingston says the last few weeks have seen an increased demand as the holidays approach.
“The local community has been so supportive of the cards,” said Hingston, who is an author based in Edmonton.
“And that’s not really a surprise to me because everything I’ve ever worked on in the city… people in Edmonton really do rally around locally-made products.
“The fact that we have all local artists in there I think has really brought people around the cards.”
The trading cards feature a variety of local stories, landmarks and history.
Hingston said he launched the project as a way to combine his childhood love of collecting hockey cards with his current love of Edmonton’s quirks.
“Thinking of when I first moved to Edmonton 12 years ago now, I just had all these questions about things I would see around the city. I would just sort of ask people: ‘What’s up with these birds?’ I’d never seen a magpie before,” he said.
“Or, you know, ‘Why are all these buildings shaped like pyramids?’
“Along the way, I just learned all these really funny, quirky, interesting little stories about the city.
“Over time it sort of added up to, I thought, a bunch of interesting stories that locals would maybe know but wouldn’t now in detail. Or stories that seemed worth writing down, at any rate.”
So Hingston reached out to 12 local artists and worked with them to create the set, which is available online and at 15 local stores around Edmonton.
“The most rewarding part of this for me was being able to discover artists I didn’t know about but who were doing amazing high-profile work…. and sort of match them up with an area of the city I thought suited their artistic style.
“We’ve seen such an emphasis on remembering to support local artists in a time like this because a lot of our usual avenues of work have disappeared this year,” Hingston said.
The cards are also being sold at the Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair, which is currently running its Christmas edition of the event — completely online.
“We’re not an essential service… Markets have been cancelled because of COVID, and that’s just a really good reason for us to have pivoted online,” said Vikki Wiercinski, the organizer behind the Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair.
Wiercinski said that the importance of supporting local has increased this year as many artists have lost their main sources of income due to the restrictions around gathering and holding large events like a Christmas fair.
“The Christmas retail season is a really big deal,” she said.
“Most artists and designers who make product for a living are probably making upwards of half their annual income at Christmas markets.”
However, she said that the Royal Bison has seen a massive surge of support this year as Edmontonians begin to realize the importance of keeping their money local. The majority of the 111 artists featured in this edition of the sale are from Edmonton or Alberta.
“Every dollar that you spend locally just stays in the economy,” she said. “Our vendors buy their supplies locally. If you’re buying from an Edmontonian, it’s likely they bought the things they made your piece with from another store in Edmonton.
“Everybody is just so grateful for the support and for helping to shop local this Christmas.”
The Royal Bison fair runs online until Dec. 9.
The full list of local artists who contributed to the Edmonton trading card project is below:
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