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Behind a vibrant, teal-painted facade in a nondescript industrial park in Boulder’s NoBo Art District, you can find up to 14 independent local artists at work on their latest creations. The media they’re working with—pastels, ceramics, watercolors, and more—are as varied as the artists themselves. But the vibe in the sun-dappled space is one of unity. Coffee is brewing in the kitchenette, where several artists are catching up, watercooler-style. Near the back of the cement-floored warehouse, a ceramicist is unloading a kiln while chatting up a painter who is organizing canvases. In the gallery, an assortment of oil paintings is being hung for an upcoming show.
Called the Crowd Collective, the shared art studio and gallery was modeled after coworking spaces like WeWork or Galvanize. The concept is the brainchild of Boulder artist Tiffany Crowder, a University of Colorado Boulder alum, who, after earning her master’s degree, identified a need. “As graduation approached, I began to realize that I would miss the big workspaces and community that you get in art school,” she says. “And when I began looking for a studio in Boulder, I quickly noticed a lack of affordable space that was designed specifically for visual artists.” In 2018, she found a spacious industrial building—formerly a welding shop—in the middle of Boulder’s art district and signed the lease. She then set out to find fellow artists interested in renting a studio space for a monthly fee.
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Since its debut, the Crowd Collective has been home to 30 emerging Boulder artists. Just last year, Crowder expanded the business to include monthly art shows during the NoBo Art District’s First Friday events. The shows feature work by Crowd Collective artists and other local creatives, and have quickly become a favorite one-stop shop among Boulder’s art collectors. We chatted with Tiffany Crowder to learn more about the concept.
5280 Home: How do Crowd Collective artists benefit from working in a shared studio space?
Tiffany Crowder: One word: community. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with and be inspired by fellow artists and creatives. There is also the fringe benefit of more exposure. A visitor may come for a specific artist, only to discover a new artist’s work. On the more mundane side of things, a commercial space, especially in an old warehouse, can require a lot of maintenance. For the artists, not having to worry about that—or dealing with a property manager—is a huge benefit. As for me, not only am I the gallery director, studio manager, and a studio artist [with a focus on encaustic art], but I’ve also added plumber, custodian, builder, and general maintenance-person to my resumé.
How does the Crowd Collective’s business model work?
Each artist pays monthly rent for a studio space. The rent covers a designated space and utilities; use of community supplies, tools, and workspace; exhibition opportunities; and access to our vibrant creative community. The gallery takes a 30-percent commission on gallery sales (the typical gallery/artist commission is 50/50).
To help offset the cost of hosting events, studio artists pay a 10-percent commission on sales if they sell something during the events. Any sales that artists make outside of gallery events are entirely their own.
The Crowd Collective is always packed on First Fridays!
I think the big draw is the artists themselves; they work in many different media and subject matter, making this a dynamic and diverse space to visit. Guests can check out working artist studios—and chat with each of the artists. We also bring in guest artists for our events, and change the gallery shows every month, so chances are, visitors will get to see new art and artists each time they visit.
If you go: The Crowd Collective is located at 4939 Broadway, Suite 58, in Boulder. Gallery events are held on the first Friday of every month. For more information, visit thecrowdboulder.com.