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Recently I saw something trying to encourage November 24th as “Shop Local Day.” Sure, great. Shop local. After Black Friday when you’ve already bought all your made-in-China junk from the big box-stores and given in to your consumerism obsession.

In case it’s not entirely clear, I disagree! Why not avoid all big box-stores this ultra-shopping-season and instead support only local? Get gifts from artists, make gifts yourself, purchase gift cards for local eateries and cafes, gift experiences instead of just shiny new junk.

I just spent the past two and a half days glazing homemade ceramic bowls and mugs that will become gifts and/or I’m planning on selling at a Christmas craft sale. So, I invite you to do the same, and make this a much better gift-giving season than ever before.

And, if you need some gift ideas…

– Stitch and Bloom is a non-profit social enterprise that seeks to uplift struggling Chinese families by training and employing rural women to produce high quality handicrafts from their own homes (some good friends of ours in Hong Kong help with this project).

Whole Bean Mugs is a husband/wife team that creates beautiful functional mugs and original watercolour paintings (I own an entire set of dishes from them that I love).

– Check out Cory Hammond for hand painted crafts to decorate your home.

Nick Palazzo for stylized comic-style prints & original paintings and drawings of classic and new characters in a creepy & awesome style (Eric got me an original paintings of his for my birthday!)

Zerflin, another husband/wife team, for some spectacularly beautiful, clean cut, and vibrant graphic design and web design work (maybe I’m biased because it’s my brother & sister-in-law, but they are super talented).

Ashley Hackett (in Western NY) for some sweet portraiture photography at extremely reasonable prices.

– Our friends over at Pop Prints for awesome digital poster prints & t-shirts (if you’ve ever caught a glimpse of Eric’s amazing Ron Swanson shirt, these are the people you want to talk to).

Michael Gauthier for some delightfully creepy and dark  paintings and drawings.

8 Bit Acrylic for some awesomely nostalgic paintings on canvas of your favorite video game characters in 8-bit. (We have a couple, and they’re awesome. And incredibly reasonably priced.)

Arryn Vogan does the most amazingly gorgeous crystalline glazing on her ceramics, some of the most beautiful and in-depth glazing I’ve ever seen.

Rachel Preville creates beautiful abstract paintings, gorgeous watercolours, and absolutely amazing handmade books. (I own one of her books that I use as a travel journal for Pocket Vinyl, and a simple watercolour scene that is still one of my favorite paintings.)

Melody Martin, very talented, takes commissions for realistic portraits in oils.

– Not sure if he does commissions, but check out my old high school friend Sam Burley for some knock-your-socks-off landscapes. (I can’t believe I actually know someone so talented).

Jocelyn Mathews Photography is not only great by photography standards, but she has an awesome artistic eye as well.

Journey Osburn does portraiture commissions as well, but with some awesomely creative twists in design, colours, and paint application. You need to at least check out her portfolio.

Broc Evan Photography, another talented photographer, in the Lancaster, PA area.

-The husband/wife couple at Pop Art Pug will start selling adorable children’s themed illustrations on December 3rd to help them raise money for the adoption of an Ethiopian child. Such an awesome idea, beautiful drawings, and a spectacular cause.

And of course, keep an eye out in your area for Christmas craft and art sales, check out small shops in your town, and try new things. Start your shopping season off on a good foot this year. Cheers.

P.S. If you have an art of craft you’d like to advertise, leave your link in the comments with a description of your wares!