Market Research: Meet the Makers

Article by Sofi Pla, Arts and Culture Editor.

As part of her ongoing hunt for ‘arepa’ earrings, an eternal search that takes her to the Female Traders Market at Mercato Metropolitano, Sofi finds herself in the thick of arty girl boss hustle. (And she loves it)

One minute I’m looking for edible jewellery and the next I’m surrounded by one million beautiful things all made by female hands. I can’t help but chat (excitedly) with some of the market vendors. We discuss arepas, the joys and struggles of setting up small businesses and they teach me more about the ‘Women Will Create’ initiative. Founded by Rebecca Dickson in 2020, ‘Women Will Create’ is a beautiful project that gives female artists and small business owners boosts in both ‘confidence’ and ‘creativity’, designed to promote safe spaces and female-run markets monthly across London and Newcastle. 

It’s lunch hour at Mercato (which, btw, is currently my fave street food spot in London) when I arrive. I spot, from a mile off, artist Hazel.Mead, enjoying a delightfully stuffed arepa. Seizing my chance, I get her foody recommendations and we talk about my Arepatoire journey! Besides culinary tastes, Hazel.Mead’s incredible illustrations combine delicate imagery and diverse characters to create taboo-tackling feminist art. Boasting a stellar list of recent clients including Netflix, the Vagina Museum and Amnesty International, her work is beyond worth checking out…!

(Period Bingo, art created by Hazel Mead for the Vagina Museum exhibition).

Continuing my stroll through the market, my greedy eye is caught by the captivating art of Aliomalley. The brainchild of Boo Bruce-Smith, Aliomalley is a south London-based digital illustrator, with whom Clitbait had the pleasure of collaborating back in 2020. She captures everyday moments with a screwball heroine energy and her vibrant, zany style sees the droll sophistication of New Yorker cartoons combine with the colourful wit and unmistakable ethics and aesthetics of an artist born after 1995! I instantly feel that I am in safe company to delve into serious chats:

Sofi: How do street markets and pop-up events compare to interacting with clients on socials like Instagram?

Aliomalley: There is always something pretty gawjus watching people laugh and sharing images with their friends. You get to think, ‘yes, I made that!’ 

Sofi: How does your artistic self co-exist with your business-minded/girl-boss self?

Aliomalley: Hahaha ahhhh the business mind is lacking and the girl boss is nonexistent. I think it’s a funny space of artists finding themselves as businesses when the initial intention was to create. The problem is I’m an artist who likes money – that’s hard to manage 😋 

Sofi: A girl after my own heart! Tell me, what would your god-tier arepa filling be? 

Aliomalley: Oooh okay so definitely want aubergine in there and coriander salsa and maybe some cheese thrown in. Can I totally make it up? Halloumi would be good! And sweet chilli sauce, I live for that shit !! 

Next, I get Aliomalley to choose some of her own proudest pieces from this year…

(DRIVE THRU, 2023).

Aliomalley: The first piece was a proud moment because it came in time for my work to be shown at Saatchi and Saatchi which felt like a big moment. It is also my escapism piece of where I’d like to go when I get away from everything. 

(CUPID WTF ?!, 2023).

Aliomalley: And the second piece would be the valentines special I made for my pop-up at Soho House because it still makes me laugh. I think that’s the sign of a good illustration if I can still look at it 6 months later and be like, yeah no babe, this was vibes’. 

Some of Aliomalley’s recent work includes collaborations with the fashion brand, Isabella Vrana; author and educator, Lalala Let Me Explain; and winner of the Merky Book Award, Monika Radojevic. She was selected for the global ‘She Takes Over’ Campaign, and has curated and hosted pop-ups all over London town. Currently, she is working on illustrations for Marie Claire UK (watch this space!)

All in all a very insightful and inspiring day at the Market…Catch me next time for more street food antics on my ongoing hunt for inspiration…


Article by Sofi Pla, Arts and Culture Editor