Featured: Co-Working Studio Space in Dallas, Texas: WELD
With university, college courses and graduate programes increasingly packed with arts students spanning across an ever growing list of mediums it's inevitable that the supply of arts graduates is becoming greater than the demand of studios and creative companies across the world. More than ever before we are seeing the creative work spectrum ram-packed with more start-ups and freelancers than ever before. Many of which are working from home or in the only tiny studio space they can afford, with little or no room for growth, creative collaboration or experience working in a team.
It's no surprise that collaborative workspaces have been popping up all over the place. From larger studios offering out desk space to freelancers, to purpose built spaces geared to encourage creatives to move from make-shift bedroom home studios and into collaborative studio spaces filled with like-minded creatives.
Which brings me to WELD. Launched in June 2012, located in Dallas, Texas, WELD offers workspaces, studio space, as well as event space for independent creatives and photographers to utilise instead of working from home. With an increasing need for studio spaces like this in London we caught up with Dallas photographer Trey Hill to find out a little more about the project.
Chris: How long has WELD been open and can you share a little about how and why it came about in the first place?
Trey: WELD opened officially in June of last year (2012) after several months of planning by WELD founders Austin Mann & Brandon Cotter and after quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears from our initial inaugural members.
Like you mentioned about the need in London, Austin saw the deep need in our city for a place where creators of all kinds could come alongside one another in the hope that they would be empowered to do more than if they were left to create in solitude. The idea was fairly simple: give people access to a passionate community, quality tools and education opportunities in a space that fosters productivity.
When he began sharing that idea with his friends, it really took root and that initial group invested time to bring the idea to life. Within just a few weeks of finding the space, WELD opened its doors.
Chris: How many WELD members are there currently?
Trey: The WELD business model is built on monthly memberships, without a long-term commitment. So, from month to month, the number of members fluctuates a bit. On average, we have averaged about 70 members over the last few months.
Chris: The WELD setup looks like it lends itself to collaboration between members. Do you find that members naturally begin to work together?
Trey: The WELD brand has been built on the idea of collaboration. The stories of member-driven projects that wouldn't have been possible without that spirit are too numerous to recount, but suffice it to say, that this is at the core of what makes WELD work. We all tend to believe, in a deep way, that we are better off together.
I can't tell you how many times I've been involved in or heard a conversation begin with the magic words, "You know what would be cool?"
Sparks really do fly around WELD on a daily basis. But it's not just collaboration, there is a spirit of selflessness that seems to exist at WELD. When someone has an idea or a project, members tend to ask, "How can I help you succeed?" when they hear about it.
Recently, our friend, WELD member and former Londoner, Matt Alexander, launched his start-up, NEED, out of WELD. And the first issue was a great example of collaboration. Matt reached out to fellow WELDERs, Tyler Sharp & JerSean Golatt, to pull the first issue together. Matt also wrote about his initial experience with WELD here and credits NEED's existence to the collaborative spirit that exists among our membership.
Chris: Have you any plans for the future of WELD? Can we look forward to seeing similar studios in London and around the world?
Trey: Currently, WELD is expanding to Nashville... but, like Dallas, Austin wants to build a network of creators who embody the WELD ethos and are willing to invest more than membership dues. That's a process that you can't rush, so we don't have an exact date for doors to open, but Austin has re-located to Nashville to help foster the WELD community in Nashville.
We believe that you have to be incredibly purposeful in curating a WELD community. It takes more than need in a market for WELD to be successful. You need to find the right mix of talent and passion in an inspiring space.
I would personally love to see those ingredients come together in London in the future. Because of how often I pass through, it would be nice to have a place to land and work anytime I'm in this wonderful city.