Arts entrepreneur Daniel Cohen has travelled the world selling his hand-made graphic art at artisans markets.
After returning home to the Toronto area in the fall of 2009, he sold his wares at local markets but felt there just weren't any here that offered the same personal touch as the ones he'd visited abroad so he started up his own.
"I always visited markets wherever I went and I really spent time at each market talking to people," shared Cohen, a native of Richmond Hill who studied theatre and drama at York University's Glendon College before venturing abroad and living in Australia for nearly four years.
"I studied the markets because I found them fascinating, what a lifestyle to live."
Cohen, who is especially fond of Sydney's popular and long-running Glebe Market where he sold his wares on a weekly basis, said he always felt Toronto-area markets were too focused on the business side of things rather than the artists.
A new Leslieville resident, Cohen said the thought of starting up his own year-round market was always in the back of his mind.
Earlier this year at the urging of his good friend, Melissa Major, Cohen brought it to the forefront and started spreading the word about his idea.
Within a short time, hundreds of people had expressed an interest in selling their pieces at the new market.
"Sure enough there was a need for this in Toronto. There's nothing like it," said Cohen, adding he understands it could take some time for his new venture to fully take off but vowed to maintain a positive attitude and work hard to make it happen.
"My goal is for the Arts Market to become a destination for unique art and community-related activities. There's always going to be something different and new."
From there, Cohen began actively searching for a space to house his new market.
He found what he calls a perfect location a few months later in the heart of Leslieville at 1114 Queen St. E. (between Pape and Jones avenues) and in mid-May, with the help of family and friends, started renovating it into the Arts Market.
"I want to build a community where artists can support each other," Cohen said during a recent tour of the bright, lofty 2,250-square-foot space, adding the Arts Market was created to give emerging artisans a year-round place where they could promote their business and sell their pieces while developing a solid customer base.
The Arts Market, which officially opened its doors to the public the weekend of July 9 and 10, can comfortably accommodate about 25 artisans, who can rent a "booth" on a weekly or monthly basis.
Initially, the space was to only open on weekends but Cohen said there's enough demand to open the Arts Market seven days a week.
A midnight madness event is also in the works for Friday, Aug. 12, he noted.
"If it's a success it will become a regular feature," said Cohen, who is now focused on running his new endeavour full-time.
To ensure the market's continued success, Cohen said he wants to draw the right type of vendors, ones with community-minded attitudes.
To do so, he is committed to taking the time to sit down with each applicant to discuss their priorities.
Cohen said he's grateful to those who donated their time and skills to market and promote the market including the team at One Good Site for creating the website, Dawn by Day Collective for the graffiti-inspired outdoor signage and everyone who offered their moral support. He said he's especially eager to bring in Toronto, especially east-end, artisans.