Art Office is a work program in which artists are prompted to consider their creative practices more like workaday office jobs.
Our mission is to help artists focus and be more productive by prescribing a regimen based on personal responsibility, peer accountability, and public engagement.
The Origin Story
Greetings! Carla here, artist and boss lady at Art Office. I’m a social person. I get energy, focus, and inspiration from being around other people. However, I work best alone. My creativity flows best when I can turn off the “interact-with-humans” part of my brain, and dive deep into my work.
So . . . In order to make artwork, I need energy, in order to get energy, I need to be around people, but if I’m around people, I can’t get any work done!
I spent years searching for a career— or heck, any kind of outlet— that would let the introverted artist in me work independently, while allowing the extroverted side of me to thrive by being around other people. I found two existing models that loosely answered my dilemma: Co-working spaces— which are usually expensive and you’re not allowed to spill paint on the floor, and Grad school— which costs money, demands your full attention, and doesn’t last forever.
Neither of these options was going to work for me, so I tried renting my own personal art studio, but—being alone— I had no motivation. I spent countless evenings at Drink & Draws, but they always turned social for me. I thought urban sketching might do the trick, but anxiety killed that idea pretty fast. It seemed like nothing was going to work. But then I had a revelation . . .
Like many millennials, I’ve spent most of my adulthood watching The Office. I think of it as a kind of supplement to my anxiety-riddled, not-funny, and often isolated life. I crave the predictable, organized feeling of working a boring old desk job at a place like Dunder Mifflin. One day as I was watching Pam turn down Jan’s offer to enroll in a graphic design training program in New York for the hundredth time . . .
. . . I thought, “What if I could make a hybrid workplace that combines the structure and accountability of an office, with the autonomy and atmosphere of an art studio!”
And the daydreaming began. Imagine, if you will, an office space, divided into individual art studio/cubicles, with an adjoining conference room, kitchenette, break room, and reception/gallery area. Now outfit the kitchen with a coffee maker and some mugs, the break room with a watercooler and bulletin board, slap a timeclock on the wall and Homer Simpson doll on a filing cabinet– and you’ve got the blueprints for Art Office!
Of course, then Covid had to happen. All plans for an in-person Art Office had to be put on hold, but that was probably a good thing! Since its inception, we’ve had three test groups and sixteen artist members who worked the program over weeks and months, and presented their work in live Zoom events which were open to the public via Facebook.
The dream for a brick-and-mortar location is still alive, but the important thing is that the system is working. Artists are being motivated, inspired, and held accountable to produce work consistently. The word “art” comes from a very old root word meaning, “to fit together,” and “office” comes from another old word that means, “doing work.” Here at Art Office, that’s our goal.