For local artists, Supercrawl is a chance to shine

The stage is almost set for the eleventh annual Supercrawl. Started in 2009 as a way to showcase the musicians, artists and creators that were leading the evolution of Hamilton as a creative-centric city, the event has changed dramatically over ten years. Headliners and big draws of the Festival are increasingly from outside of Hamilton (as are some of the audiences), and the Festival’s mandate has evolved to position local and emerging artists alongside their significant provincial, national, and international peers.

For those looking to celebrate some of the best emerging local artists at this September’s edition of Supercrawl, rest assured; Hamilton-based creators are being showcased on every stage and corner. Born and raised Hamilton artists like Maria Anastasiou have been working all year to make their participation at Supercrawl great.

Anastasiou’s journey to Supercrawl started even before she was born. Her grandmother was a renowned seamstress in Greece, sought out by villages for her craft. After moving to Hamilton, her father was a tailor with his own leather shop on James Street before opening a restaurant. Originally, she wasn’t interested in the industry but destiny intervened.

“I wasn’t artistic growing up. I would’ve happily played volleyball all day,” Anastasiou recalled. “But I was working in the family restaurant, looking for things to do, and a friend taught me to crochet.” With that small gesture, she was hooked. Initially making hats and trinkets, the talented creator quickly moved onto larger and more intricate items after being given a sewing machine by her mother.

The past four years has been a period of steady growth for the emerging artist who specializes in fabric embroidery and crocheting. As her skills developed, Anastasiou grew a market through Instagram and Etsy (both places she sells her wares) under the name PepperSherman. In addition to attracting customers through word-of-mouth, Anastasiou has become a familiar face at artisan markets throughout the city.

Anastasiou recognizes the opportunity that being a street vendor at Supercrawl provides her and her business. Although it is tough to calculate the number of attendees at a free festival, it is estimated by numerous sources that Supercrawl has regularly attracted between 100,000 and 200,000 attendees annually since 2012. For an emerging artist and growing business like Anastasiou’s PepperSherman label, the chance to share original creations and fashions with this large audience in such a short period of time could change her business dramatically.

“I’ve done so many markets this year, and the feedback has been great,” she says of the decision to apply as a Supercrawl vendor. “But ultimately, it’s about the right people seeing the right stuff at the right time. And Supercrawl is a fantastic opportunity to put my designs in front of people. This festival is an investment in my future.”

Since receiving notification that her application to be a vendor at Supercrawl was successful, Anastasiou has been busy preparing. She has been collecting materials to redesign and recycle clothing and working to finish designs in progress. Custom orders have taken a backseat to ensure she has ample stock for potential customers at Supercrawl, and for those wanting custom work done on her designs at the Festival, Anastasiou will have her sewing machine onsite to complete work on demand.

As the Festival heads into its second decade, artists like Maria Anastasiou remain at the heart of Supercrawl, according to Festival Director Tim Potocic. “Supercrawl has always had a mandate of cultural discovery, always been committed to celebrating local creators,” he said in a press release. The free festival, running from September 13-15 along James Street North will also feature visual art installations, an artisan market, fashion component and family zone.

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