Bringing Art to the Shopping Cart with Big Cartel

At Sparano + Mooney Architecture, we care deeply about our unique clients and strive to deliver thoughtful, innovative design solutions for each client’s vision for their architecture and interiors. Our clients are our inspiration, our bread and butter and our driving force. We love what we do and do what we love, and are eternally grateful to be able to work with people and companies that help us cultivate the culture of excellence that defines our firm! Which is why we are so excited to write about Big Cartel, a company that not only shares our core values, but a fantastic architectural client – we are designing their company headquarters in Utah - and an incredibly cool webstore business provider dedicated to assisting creatives in reaching their potential. 

Image courtesy Big Cartel. © Big Cartel, LLC

Launched in October 2004, Big Cartel is the brainchild of Matt Wigham, co-founder and CEO, and Eric Turner, co-founder and design director. As Matt explains, “the idea for Big Cartel came about when I needed a simple way to sell my band’s [merchandise] online. I wasn’t too thrilled with any of the existing shopping cart systems out there, so being a web guy I decided to make my own. Pretty soon I realized that a lot of my other friends could use this for their bands, tees, art, etc. and Big Cartel officially launched". Although the company was originally tailored to bands and record labels, Matt and his team soon found that creatives from diverse art communities were craving what Big Cartel was able to deliver: a simple online store where they could showcase their hustle and make a living doing so.

The site offers makers, innovators, designers, musicians and other artists the platform to build a unique online store, run a business and develop an independent brand – all while keeping the process straightforward, so that the creatives can focus their resources on being, well…creative! The simple tools, which include several sleek, vibrant pre-made webpage “themes” as well as customizable shopping cart options, help the makers organize their shop, manage and sell their work and engage with their patrons, fans and local communities. Big Cartel also assists with the tricky technical aspects of building and maintaining an online store, such as real-time statistics, search engine optimization, order management, promotional tools and mobile-friendly programming.

Today, nearly a million artists and makers internationally have used Big Cartel to set up shop and run their businesses on their own terms. That number is beyond impressive, and speaks to the sense of solidarity that the platform, and the support it provides, allows each user. Independent design brands include Friends of Type, a graphic design cohort stationed in Brooklyn and San Francisco offering bright, original typographic design and lettering in the form of prints, objects, posters, tees, fonts and artwork; The Good Twin, a Los-Angeles based illustrator’s shop known for its fun and sunny stationery; Herriott Grace, a father-daughter venture selling beautiful, hand carved and hand turned wooden objects from Canada; and Lucy Kirk, a Nottingham, England, centered illustrator, ceramicist and farmer whose works exhibit titles such as “Tiger Tamer", “Beryl the Brawler” and “Cool Mermaid”.

If you think sifting through seven figures of stores is a bit daunting, look no further than Shop Indie, Big Cartel’s curated listing of hot stuff. Members of the Big Cartel team – including staff as well as clients – take turns selecting themed groupings of items with product names like “Hold Me Tight Leather Vase” (by Strups), “Afrodisiac Graphic Novel” (by Jim Rugg), “Keep Fresh, Stay Rad Postcards” (by Friends of Type) and “Skull Candles” (by blubirdsoy). With Shop Indie, Big Cartel goes the extra mile in truly bolstering the makers who sign up for service. As Matt says, Shop Indie “is something we feel very strongly about and hope that as more people become aware of the [numerous] unique, independent sellers on Big Cartel, we can help shift the concept of buying online toward one that supports more inspired products”. So, if you’re a burgeoning creative, in need of an awesome gift or simply searching for some inspiration, look no further than Big Cartel – you never know what you might discover…We are so pleased they selected us as their Salt Lake City architects for their office design!


1.       “Interview with Big Cartel”, by James & Josephine, Blog & Buy Sale, 2012 (online)

2.       “Interview with Big Cartel”, by Bo Mekavibul, T-Shirt Magazine, 20 January 2010 (online)

3.       “Big Cartel”, cityhomeCollective, 14 January 2013 (online)