A Conversation with Nina Marie Barbuto and Carrie Nardini | Local Vocal | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A Conversation with Nina Marie Barbuto and Carrie Nardini

Interview by Violet Law

Nina Marie Barbuto, 23, fresh out of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture, and Carrie Nardini, 31, who has an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, teamed up earlier this spring to create an outlet for young, entrepreneurial-minded artists and other creative types.
Called “I Made It!,” the roaming Sunday market aims to encourage artistic exchange and showcase eclectic creations. The next market is planned for September on the South Side. For more information, check out www.myspace.com/imadeitpgh.

You said that the idea to hold the market is to “fill a void.” What void is that, exactly? We already have galleries multiplying like rabbits in certain neighborhoods.

BARBUTO: There are no markets. This city has an amazing opportunity to become more integrated and cosmopolitan. The “marketplace” sets the stage for cultural, social, and even economical integration and juxtaposition. Galleries — no offense — offer white walls.

NARDINI: Pittsburgh provides a unique opportunity to try out new business ideas without losing your shirt. As a crafter, I felt the need for a creative outlet for people like me, one that happened regularly and provided an opportunity for “makers” to market their own small businesses with room to try and brand themselves and establish a clientele locally.

Any surprises about being your own boss?

NARDINI: I’m enjoying it all. I Made It! gives me a chance to meet people I may not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, and that is one of our intentions in creating this market.

BARBUTO: There’s a lot of work, but I feel we started with no expectations. This is an amorphous adventure that is as much ours as the people who encounter it.

I understand that one of you just graduated with an architecture degree, after toiling five years for it. What’s the connection between this market and your discipline?

BARBUTO: I see this as an act of autonomous urbanism, or urban acupuncture. It’s almost the reverse of what they preach at school. Instead of the omnipotent voyeur working over a two-dimensional city plan, we are taking an active role encouraging and physically making something happen, not just prescribing it.

CMU professor Richard Florida, who is now a former Pittsburgher, wrote about the rise of the creative class, and how cities need to retain creative thinkers if they want to survive. How do you think the market can help foster the creative class?

NARDINI: I think you can consider I Made It! a product of a creative class. An architect and a marketing professional come together to make a roaming art market that benefits neighborhoods and hundreds of artists — sounds like a product of an evolving creative class.

BARBUTO: I’ve read his books and I feel this market attests to what he was saying. I feel a little selfish, because we made something that I wanted to go to. But if you want to do or make something, I say just go for it. You can do pretty much anything in Pittsburgh.

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