What It's Like to Create at Your Own Studio + Collaborate with Other Artists in Downtown Des Moines
Before moving to Des Moines, Iowa from Cleveland, Ohio, ceramics artist Jennifer Lee had heard about Mainframe Studios, Downtown Des Moines’ (DSM’s) creative workspace for more than 200 local artists. But after attending a Frist Friday event, an evening of monthly sharing by artists of food, music and art, Lee was convinced that this was the place for her, and not long after she applied for her own studio space.
Creating Connections in Downtown Des Moines
Lee’s experiences at First Fridays at Mainframe Studios allowed her to get to know artists from different mediums, collaborate and create partnerships. By attending these events before moving to the area, she was also able to see how other artists designed their studio spaces and find her own spin on creating a studio space that would draw people in.
Having a studio in Downtown Des Moines allows Lee to take a walk for lunch at Fresco, head to Lua Brewing for after-work drinks or enjoy an afternoon of brainstorming in a place like the John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Since her work is nature-based, she can also find inspiration nearby in places like the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden or the architecturally and visually stunning Des Moines Public Library’s central library location. The walkability of Des Moines is great for grabbing a cup of coffee in the morning, too, like Northern Vessel, although Mainframe Studios has its own coffee cart, Happy Home Coffee, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Monday.
Other offerings at Mainframe Studios include guest speakers and easy collaboration between artists that help you build your business. Artists can easily find community at Mainframe by getting involved with local events and marketing opportunities with big festivals like Des Moines Arts Festival, which also hosts Creative Breakfast Club for artists. There are also in-house podcasters and art nonprofits.
Lee keeps office hours at Mainframe Studios from 8:30 – 9 a.m. Sometimes people will pop in to purchase a wedding present or gift for another occasion. She spends time in the morning packaging orders, too. In the afternoons she loads the kiln, does work on the computer, etc. Her days are full, and having space at Mainframe keeps her accountable since she’s in a building where other creatives are working away.
Each month, when Mainframe Studios selects a First Fridays theme for a specific kind of art, the entirety of artists help to spread the word. Sometimes photography is highlighted, sometimes ceramics, but there’s always something happening to reach out to the local community and spread the word about what’s happening. It’s surprising to Lee how many locals don’t know what Mainframe Studios offers, or even that it’s in Downtown Des Moines, but she’s excited to see more and more people find out about it.
Find out more about artists at Mainframe Studios or learn about First Fridays events, which are always free and open to the public. The next First Friday with Mainframe Studios event will be from 5 – 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1. For the rest of the year, dates include Oct. 6, Nov. 3 and Dec. 1.
Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.