Talented designers return to Hill’s PhilaMRKT pop-up


PhilaMRKT, a one-day pop-up featuring some of the area's best artists, is returning to Chestnut Hill on June 7, just in time for the community's Arts and Eats First Friday event.

The pop-up started by Steve DeCusatis, whose design and branding firm has been based in Chestnut Hill for the past 13 years, and fellow artists Mario Zucca and Josh Carter, will feature works including graphic arts, typography and iconography.

"We're all friends," said DeCusatis, "and we have a bunch of design/illustrator friends. The three of us were at lunch one day at Nirvana, the Indian lunch buffet near Plymouth Meeting, and discussed how it would be fun to start an art market featuring all our talented art friends. Then we had our first event in 2017."

DeCusatis, a former Chestnut Hill resident, now lives in Glenside; Zucca in Mt. Airy and Carter in New Jersey. Carter is a designer, animator and illustrator; DeCusatis is a designer, and Zucca is an illustrator. Zucca and DeCusatis met as classmates at Temple University's Tyler School of Art in the late '90s.

The pop-up, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Kismet Cowork, will also showcase work hand-printed by silkscreen or letterpress or using antique wooden or metal type. There's a local angle, with works ranging from whimsical city maps to Philly-centric T-shirts and hats.

The annual pop-up was at venues in Center City, Spring Garden and Manayunk before being sidelined by Covid. The last PhilaMRKT event in Chestnut Hill was on Dec. 16, 2023, also at Kismet. The Chestnut Hill location was selected when Christopher Plant, owner of the coworking space, where DeCusatis is based, offered up the Willow Grove Avenue building to host it.

"It's a great space for getting work done but also a great space for events," Plant told us in an earlier interview. The massive stone building at 12 W. Willow Grove Ave. was built to be a garage and later used as a wartime munitions factory and warehouse before being converted by Plant into an airy loft space for Kismet and other tenants.

Local illustrator Molly Egan, whose bright prints of people, pets and flowers have appeared worldwide in magazines and books, on clothing and even on cookies, chronicles her colorful, pattern-filled sketchbooks on Instagram and showed her work at PhilaMRKT from 2017 to 2023.

She told us earlier, "I don't often have a chance to interact with customers in person since I do nearly all of my sales online. I love getting to chat with folks that are shopping and meet artists in person that I have gotten to know online."

Since its first three annual shows, PhilaMRKT has acquired "a little bit of a following," DeCusatis said. "It's not like it's a Clover Market (the popular fair that comes to Chestnut Hill each spring and fall), but it's a cozy set-up. And it's indoors!"

Plant said the once-quiet stretch of lower Germantown Avenue has gotten livelier in the past year with the opening of new shops and cafes.

"We're seeing so much vitality at this end of the hill. I think the lower hill is a really cool place to be," he said.

Admission to the event is free, and there will be plenty of refreshments and music, possibly but not necessarily live. For more information, visit PhilaMRKT.com or follow @PhilaMRKT on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter).

Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com.