Exploring Seattle's Art Community

Recently, Big Cartel's Community team met up in Seattle to plan the year ahead. While in town, we visited a few of the city's great independent art hubs for some inspiration.

At Big Cartel, our team works remotely from all over the United States. This set up helps create a diverse team with different perspectives, and it means that the time we spend together in person is really special. The Community team is made up of people from California, Wisconsin, Idaho, Utah, and Washington. Often times, our meet ups take place in our HQ in Salt Lake City, Utah, but I wanted to change things up a bit and host the Community team meet up in Seattle, where I live. I was excited to show the team some of my favorite spots in my hometown and work on projects face to face.

For our meetings, I wanted to use a spot inhabited by working artists, both to set the tone and to support a creative space. I picked 95 Yesler, a co-working studio located in the heart of Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle. The space was perfect: beautiful and light, with old wooden floors and rich red brick walls. Our conversations centered on finding new ways to feature artists, how we can do a better job of supporting shops with tips and inspiration, and how we can improve our processes to do better work as a team. We've got some great things in the works, and we can't wait to share them with you.

After a day of planning, we headed to Pratt Fine Arts Center in the Central District to take a glass working class. Pratt is a real gem in the Seattle community. It offers a place for absolute beginners and professional artists to work side by side creating art. At Pratt, your art can be anything from glass, sculpture, and metalsmithing to painting, drawing, printmaking, and more. As they explain on their site, "Pratt aspires to extend the visual arts experience to people from all backgrounds, working at all skill levels. Within an extraordinary community of artists, students and patrons, Pratt strives to be a conduit for artistic development, providing pathways to knowledge, support and inspiration and changing the way individuals see themselves and the world around them." Seattle is lucky to have Pratt and I was psyched to support this organization and share it with my team.

The next day, we visited The Vera Project, an all-ages music and arts venue located in the Seattle Center. When I first moved to Seattle in 2004, I was desperate to participate in the music community and The Vera Project offered the perfect venue to do so. I took classes in live sound and volunteered for shows, took out the trash and swept the stage. And while I didn't go on to find a career running live sound as other Vera grads have, it was an incredibly empowering experience with a diverse group of passionate artists. Tim Lennon, Vera's Executive Director, talked about their plans to expand the range of classes and developing their online store. We hope to share more updates from The Vera Project in the coming months.

Our last stop was at KEXP's incredible new home. KEXP is an independent radio station but also so much more. They provide music experiences on the air, podcasts and live performance videos online, and events and sponsorships in the community. KEXP has done an incredible job of championing artists and helping support Seattle's music community - it was inspiring to hear just a few stories of the artists who have passed through KEXP over the years and their commitment to the value of the DJ as a curator. They're a real success story about finding stellar DJ's and empowering them to champion artists they love.

Our meet up in Seattle was special not only for the chance to work together as a team, but because Seattle's art community was such a welcoming host. You can tell everyone puts so much time and energy into their work because it's what they love, and seeing that kind of passion is infectious. Special thanks to Rob Bender from KEXP, Tim Lennon from The Vera Project, Cassandra, Gwendolyn, and Joanna at 95 Yesler, and Olivia Hoffmeyer from Pratt Fine Arts Center for inviting us into your spaces. Next time you're in Seattle, check out one of these places and tell 'em Big Cartel sent you.