Art-Making as Lifestyle

SFUAD design chairman suggests transitional community workspaces and pop-up shops

The person: David Grey is the chairman of the graphic design department at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. An MFA graduate of the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, Grey oversaw the development of the graphic arts program during the school’s transition from the struggling College of Santa Fe to a Laureate Education university. In addition to designing local works of note such as the Dixon Studio Tour’s 30th anniversary book, Grey continues to design album covers and other works for clients in Los Angeles.

The plan: Create community workspaces where young artists can live and work, then run those in conjunction with pop-up shops or galleries, where these artists can sell their work and hold events.

How it works: Grey describes a trip to London during which he saw “design and music and architecture and lifestyle so integrated that the entire culture fed itself. These people, 20 or 30 years old, were crafting shirts, sewing and crafting suits, working in a tiny spot right next to or in their shop, in their community where they are hanging out every day.”

Santa Fe could likewise create college-to-professional transitional spaces where young artists could develop their work and learn from each other, choosing at first 25-30 people, who would then be responsible for choosing potential replacements. The remaining housemates would vote in new members.

"I don't know exactly how it would be initially structured or who would invest in this, but I think it would work well," he says. "Those things, I think, really take a little bit of time, like six months to a year, before there's really much momentum, so figuring out a way to help [young artists] really have enough time here would be really beneficial."

Combining the sense of community and collaborative knowledge with a pop-up shop, Grey believes, would give young artists an opportunity not only to have their work seen by collectors, potential employers and out-of-towners, but also to develop a regional dialogue, expressed through design, about what they think and how they feel about the place they live.

“A place where people are selling the shirts right next to where they’re making shirts, and people can see this community [in which art-making] truly is a lifestyle, I think, would uplift the community in a different way,” Grey says.

Bottom line: By building the spaces where artists can live, work, sell and hold events, Santa Fe could foster creativity, broaden the city’s cultural landscape and improve its self-image.

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