Puces Pop sells art on the cheap

This weekend, Puces Pop offers 80 vendors who put their art into everything from arty silkscreens to burger-inspired jewellery and beyond.


Marilyn Faucher at work.

Marilyn Faucher was an industrious kindergartener. After school, she’d hole up in her room and draw her way through stacks of special requests from classmates. Now an illustrator bringing her Chez Faucher line of cards and prints to Puces Pop this week, she recalls the challenges of being a really, really young entrepreneur.

“I was like, ‘garde, maman, you don’t understand. I have so many orders. First I’ve gotta draw this mouse, then this cat… and she said no, this is crazy. Tomorrow, it’s $1 per drawing,” Faucher recalls. “Of course, the next day, I had no clients. But it was fun while it lasted.”

Faucher is one of 80 vendors setting up shop at the four-day craft fair put on by Pop Montreal. Since 2004, Puces Pop has hosted artisans selling everything from handmade toys to jewellery and furniture. This year’s wares include Disamare biking caps, Preservation Society jams and Woolfell leather bags.

For art lovers, Puces Pop is a chance to discover local artists at affordable prices. Over 15 artists are selling prints and housewares featuring their work, including Tyson Bodnarchuk’s monster finger puppets and Ohara Hale’s butt-inspired posters. For young artists like Faucher, who just cut down her job hours to focus on creating Chez Faucher’s product line, the chance to talk art with real-life clients is invaluable.

“It’s about communication. It’s great to hear what people like, answer their questions and get useful feedback,” says Faucher, whose heartwarming aquarelle calendars, posters and greeting cards span the $5–$25 range. “It’s also a way for me to show my style and what I’m all about as an artist.”

Becoming a household name is one thing — selling is another. Montreal isn’t known for its flourishing gallery sales. For Faucher, the art-derived products popular at Puces Pop , like blankets, plates and cards, aren’t just a marketing strategy. They’re livable art pieces that bring satisfaction to the consumer and the artist.

“Objects that you use, that decorate your space, become a part of your life. A blanket, a bowl, even a greeting card you’ve saved can all have so much meaning. There’s another level of emotional attachment. For me, that’s the sum of it all,” says Faucher.

And while selling an original piece is great, at Puces Pop, quality and quantity can go hand in hand. Illustrator Benoit Tardif has published his charming and minimalistic work in magazines like Urbania and The Walrus, and he illustrates for Ta Mère publishing. He says exposure from fairs like Puces Pop, which received 6,000 visitors per weekend in 2011, pays off monetarily and artistically.

“I’d rather sell 20 prints at $20 than one painting at $500. I want my art to be accessible to a large group of people,” says Tardif, whose Puces Pop print line-up ranges from $5–$30. “I’ve learned how to work a fair as an artist. I always have my card on me, and I’ve become involved in artistic projects that were very satisfying thanks to contacts I’ve made at fairs.”

At a fair last year, Tardif was approached by the Mille Putois publishing house, which invited him to publish alongside 92 artists from Quebec and around the world in TÊTES DE MICKEY, a book of self-portraits. By combining the creative and commercial contacts he’s made at fairs with the illustration opportunities arranged by COLAGENE, his artistic agency, Tardif has found more time to do what he really loves: draw.

“Ideally, I need to spend more time creating and less time promoting myself. It’s a part of the work of an artist that I’ve never really liked or felt good at,” says Tardif. “Just in the past few months, thanks to these opportunities and contacts, I’ve worked on bigger and more global projects than ever before.” ■

Puces Pop runs Sept. 26–29 at Église St-Michel (105 St-Viateur W.), Thurs. 4–8 p.m., Fri. 12–8 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.–6 p.m., free admission.

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