VSA’s Jorge Hinojosa and Shawna X. Huang go renegade

“A true creative is never satisfied with just the job. And if they are, they’re not doing it right.”

That was the response from VSA Partners’ Senior Designer Shawna Huang and Desktop Engineer Jorge Hinojosa when asked about why they decided to participate in this weekend’s Renegade Craft Fair, the Chicago edition of one of the largest annual craft fairs in the country. Together with a mutual friend, the pair are exhibiting and selling work in the same booth. “We’re modeling it after a showroom and mixing our different pieces and styles. You get to see how everything blends,” said Hinojosa.

Hinojosa spends time outside VSA as a resident artist at the Chicago Art Department, with whom he did a group booth at last year’s RCF. “I made small wooden side tables that rolled up safely into your backpack for safe transport, while everyone else had letterpress pieces and screenprints.” The experience successfully showed the range of programs the CAD offered, but he was eager to do something different this year and showcase his additional woodworking skills and new pieces.

This year, Hinojosa is selling under the name Eres Hoja, Spanish for “you are a leaf.” “I really want the pieces I make to be an extension of the people who use them. They rely on the organic nature of wood, they’re straightforward products and clearly handmade by me,” he said. He plans to offer laptop stands, beer and wine holders, redesigned side tables, coasters, large desks and more. “I come from IT, and a lot of that job is asking how a person’s environment can be improved. With technology, you have to depend on it to do your job better. Eres Hoja products are made to be dependable and help you achieve greater productivity.” An Etsy store for Eres Hoja will launch immediately after RCF and help Hinojosa branch out even further (no pun intended).

“I started selling my work three years ago,” explained Huang. After seeing a friend succeed with her own greeting card company, launched as an alternative to her advertising career, she designed a card series called “One Card Fits All” and started her Etsy shop soon after. “I realized the more work I made, the better I got, and I created more inspiration for myself,” she said. “It wasn’t really about selling the work, it was about pushing myself and staying motivated. That’s how I’ve looked at my business ever since.” That included stints living in Portland and now Chicago, and a side business making and selling jewelry. Huang’s shop includes greeting cards, postcards and prints of all sizes, even a series of flags—and some of her larger prints will be sold at RCF within custom Eres Hoja frames.

Both plan to use the fair to identify what pieces will be the most popular, and as a launching pad to create more varied work in the future. For Hinojosa, that means experimenting with pieces built with metal and cement, not just wood. Eres Hoja “will be tied to anything that promotes the growth and well-being of people—books, movies, ideas, whatever,” he said. For Huang, she’s mulling over expanding to three-dimensional products like scarves and notebooks, and reviving her dormant jewelry line: “I’m always looking for new ways to make a flat object into something tangible, and continuing to build things with my hands.”

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago takes place this weekend (11:00 am–6:00 pm, September 6–7) on Division St. in Wicker Park, and is free to all. Meet Hinojosa and Huang at booth 46, located near the intersection of Division and Wolcott St. If you can’t make it this weekend, visit Huang’s Etsy page, Made by Shawna X, to purchase prints. Or follow her on Instagram, where she posts frequently about recent work. The Eres Hoja Etsy page will be stocked next week with pieces for sale to the public, and you can check out Hinojosa’s installation at the Chicago Art Department this fall.

Photos provided by Jorge Hinojosa and Shawna X. Huang.