When I walked into Crosstown Arts' new Shared Art-Making Facility, I was met first by a few eclectically styled mannequins and then a bearded man who was screen-printing an image of a deer onto a tote bag.
Jamie Harmon, the manager of the space, was just finishing up what to me looked like a complex process involving a dark room, ink, and a large machine, but for him was just another day at the office.
Harmon said the membership-based workspace has been open for about three weeks, but they haven't done much by way of marketing yet. There are 10 members so far, which Harmon said have served, in part, as "guinea pigs."
- Maya Smith
- Kiia Wilson works in the woodshop.
"Right now, it's kind of slow, but we're also new," Harmon said. "So we're welcoming a slow pace to work through the process of the rules, safety, basics like what works and what doesn't work when five people want to use a machine, and other things like that."
The space is like a gym, but instead of stacks of dumbbells and rows of treadmills, the space houses long work tables, iMacs, large printers, and other tools for artists including musicians, designers, filmmakers, and woodworkers.
Although the facility is available for artists of all abilities and there are techs on hand to train members to use the equipment, Harmon said the staff isn't there to "teach you how to make the stuff you want to make."
"We can't teach you how to use Illustrator because we could sit with you for five hours and you still may not know," Harmon said. "So we have to manage the expectations of members."
However, he said once membership grows, members will be able to teach classes, as well as tutor other members in a one-on-one setting.
The setup is for anyone who wants to use equipment that they can't afford or don't have room for, Harmon said. He adds that the membership fee — $80 a month — is "low" considering that members have access to "hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment easily."
"Once a place like this is introduced to you, then the ideas of the things you could make change," Harmon said. "You don't even know you want this, but if you're a person who makes things, then this opens up the doors."
The facility will host an open house on Friday, November 30th, which Harmon said "will hopefully be our big reveal."
Meanwhile, Crosstown Arts' space has already helped one member expand her business, Jungle Faire. When I visited the space's woodshop, the business' owner Kiia Wilson was in the middle of making three more Yoni Steam Chairs (used for aromatherapy) to add to her stock.
Never having built anything in the past, Wilson said she saw a need for this kind of chair, and with help the of a few Google searches and the staff at the art-making space, decided to try her hand.