BUSINESSES OPEN AS USUAL
The last few months have seen a lot of change on the OPEN ship! With not only the departure of some of the long-term studio crew and a some new arrivals, we’ve also made some changes to how OPEN is run & managed.
OPEN co-founders Holly Wales and Robert Evans have stepped down from running and working in the space, and write here about their involvement in the project since they initiated it in 2010 with co-founders Landfill Editions, Loren Filis and David Callow.
First though, we’ll let you know that from March 2012, there will be less of a focus on illustration at OPEN, and studio members will no longer necessarily be involved with illustration as an exclusive discipline – we are opening our doors to designers, writers, animators, photographers, publishers and more. There is also no longer have any specific educational involvement or internship programme and interns should contact the practitioner they would like to work with directly. OPEN will now operate as a more traditional desk-space studio – spaces will be advertised here when they become available.
Holly and I have been truly blown away by the support, enthusiasm and general interest from both the illustration world and also further afield over the past 2 years, to what we have been working on and setting up. And hope that it has inspired both our members and those that have visited and followed us.
In the short space of time since we set up our experimental studio and education space project, we have seen members past and present develop their practices and shown that shared studio space can offer much more than just tea bags and new music. We put an emphasis on helping illustrators who so often end up working solo, to have the opportunity to work together, crit work, offer advice, materials, resources and production, and we hope much of this will continue to flourish. During our time at OPEN, we also invited a number of students who showed great potential in to work with us and on their own projects, building on an understanding that illustration graduates are often cast adrift from advice and support while they build a client list. We hope that this new attitude to how shared studios can work will continue as OPEN evolves and hopefully inspire other studios to do the same.
The biggest thing we’ve learnt is that collaboration doesn’t have to mean working on the same project!
We will admit, It has been hard to run such an ambitious project without financial backing or outside funding, especially right now in the middle of recession-apocalypse. Running OPEN was always going to be a full-time-job; and in hindsight, so much became about creating the right environment, that little was left for making new artwork. In addition, most of our studio members are so busy working on commercial projects with short deadlines, that little time is left for building on the education ethos we were so keen to develop, and in turn those commercial projects fund their presence in the first place.
While running OPEN we got a lot of emails from other illustrators around the world asking if we knew of anything similar in their city, or were thinking of opening another ‘branch’ – while this seemed crazy to us (it was really all born out of own love of making work and helping others, never about making money or world domination), it did make us think a lot about how relevant location is. A lot of people asked whether we thought London was the only city something like OPEN could work in, which the answer to now seems more obvious. Having worked in Berlin and visited artists in cities like Brussels, San Francisco, Vienna and Krakow, it always becomes apparent that people have more time – a project like OPEN needs time, and it needs not to become a financial burden. But it also feeds off some of the great things a city like London has to offer; the energy, drive, people and fantastic art colleges.
Thank you to all at OPEN past, present and future. We have had an incredible time working in an environment that it would be pretty hard to match – but we’re not about to try. I am as busy as ever with screenprinted gig posters, illustration and art direction for music projects and commercial illustration. Holly is working night & day in her new studio on an editorial portfolio with work for clients in the US, Canada, Germany and France, alongside teaching on Illustration programmes at University of Westminster and Winchester School of Art – she is buying herself several months off to return to her artwork later in 2012.
Thankyou! Keep in touch and continue to follow what Holly (@Hollibobs) and I (@Telegramme) are up to, along with the other ex-OPEN members Patternity, Adam Hayes, Melvin Galapon, Sarah King, Yeji Yun and co-founder David Callow.
Best of luck for the future OPEN!