In this month's FOUND we take a trip to a Nashville make-space run by five artists who want to make a difference in our community, called The Warren. We stop by the first ever Drink and Draw, a monthly art event where you can drink and draw at your leisure, to see what this rad space is all about. Read our interview with co-founders Kayla Stark and Rebecca Green on their vision of The Warren, their creative works, and what they're doing to give back. Be sure to check out The Warren's event calendar and follow them @thewarrennashville to see what these movers and shakers have coming up!
What is The Warren?
The Warren is A Make Space. It is a full-time working studio for five Nashville artists specializing in Illustration, Graphic Design, and Fine Art. In addition to housing these working creatives, it is also a space for Workshops, Pop-Up Shops, Demos, Art Shows, and other Community Events.
Where did the name come from?
A “warren” is a place where rabbits (and other small animals) hunker down for shelter. A second meaning for “warren” is a small building or area containing many tenants. We thought those two meanings combined described our space perfectly. It is a small space where many artists can come together to work and feel connected to each other—like a little family.
Who is involved with The Warren? How did you all meet?
[Rebecca Green and I] are the founders of the The Warren, and we rent out 3 additional workspaces to Ava Puckett, Hannah Beasley, and Zie Darling. We actually met on Instagram and met up for coffee shortly after Becca moved to Nashville. We both wanted to have a space where we could work, hang out, and have events. We couldn’t find a place in Nashville that had everything we wanted, so we decided to create one for ourselves.
What's your mission? Why have an artist collective space?
Our mission is to provide a full-time workspace for commercial artists while supporting the community through events such as artist lectures, workshops, and shows. We think it’s important to provide an environment where artists can go to, separate work from home, and have a community that fosters learning, feedback, encouragement, and creative support.
How long did it take you to find a place for your project? Was it difficult?
It didn’t take long at all—only about a month of light searching. We were interested in a different location at first but we both had a bad feeling about it and decided to look around a little more. On the day we were scheduled to sign the lease for the initial space, we saw a “for lease” sign on the corner of 10th and Fatherland. We took a chance, contacted the owner, and got a tour of the property set up for the next morning. We fell in love with the Fatherland area and knew we had to have this one. It’s such a perfect space and location! It was fate!
What sort of events does the Warren host?
Workshops, Pop-Up Shops, Demos, Art Shows, and other Community Events. We just got on the list of venues for the East Side Art Stumble and will be open again showcasing local work for the next stumble. We just had our first artist lecture on “Art Licensing” and have another lecture planned on “Illustration Reps and Working with an Agency” with more planned for the future. We also just started having a Drink and Draw that will take place every third Thursday of the month.
This is the first year of The Warren, what do you want to accomplish?
Basically, we’d like to just become a well-oiled machine, able to continue providing workspaces, and events that bring the art community closer together.
Looking ahead, where do you see The Warren in 10 years?
We are honestly so happy with the start-up success that we are trying to really focus and take things a day at a time. We hope it continues to grow and serve the community.
Are you both from Nashville?
Kayla: I’m from Lobelville, TN. It’s a very small (but beautiful) town an hour and a half southwest of Nashville. It doesn’t even have a traffic light. I came to Nashville a lot growing up, so I’ve always been pretty familiar with the area.
Rebecca: I’m originally from a small town in Michigan. After living in Phoenix and Denver for a bit, we decided to check out Nashville for a couple of years. So far, I love it. Everyone here is so welcoming and kind!
As artists, what are your favorite mediums to work with?
Kayla: I’m still figuring out what my favorites are. Currently, in my arsenal is my Blackwing pencil, black India ink, Acryla gouache, a couple of small round Raphael brushes, Prismacolor pencils, and Photoshop/Illustrator. I oftentimes combine traditional mediums with digital to save time, but I’d like to go back to working more traditionally.
Rebecca: I work mainly in gouache and colored pencil. I also like working in mixed media, acrylic, ink and 3D.
Kayla Stark "Cross Section of Cane Creek"
Rebecca Green "Succulents"
What's your creative process like?
Kayla: Once I have an idea for a drawing/painting, I immediately start thinking about the composition and colors. Finding the right composition for a piece is actually the most fun part of the process for me. I’ll sketch out a few thumbnails until it feels right and then re-draw the final linework on my lightpad. At this point I have to force myself to continue. The tedious part of shading, painting, and detailing the piece is my least favorite part, it takes me forever. I think it’s because the “puzzle” of figuring out the subject, composition, and color palette has already been solved and my brain is ready to move on to the next piece. However, once I can see the piece coming together towards the end I start to fall in love with making art again.
Rebecca: I’ve finally gotten comfortable in my creative process. While at times it is frustrating, it’s also comforting in the fact that it is cyclical. I make a lot of work since it’s my full time job and I try to squeeze in personal projects on top of that. My process starts with me creating too much art and my work will suffer - I’ll get burnt out to the point where I despise art. I plateau regularly and get bored of the way I make things. I usually go through a week or two where I sulk and try and think of different career options. I’ll nap and cook and question the world and my place in it. I’ll feel really uninspired like I’ve made everything I’m ever going to make. And then inevitably I’ll force myself into my studio, but this time, I just let loose and throw down a bunch of paint, or draw a weird line, or an eyeball, or a pattern and just like that, BOOM. I’m frantically discovering a new way of laying down color, or I’m writing a whole story about some random character I never knew existed. My brain is getting more wrinkles! I get in the zone where 8 hours feels like minutes and I am thanking the universe that I did not apply for that lame job I saw on the internet that I never wanted anyway. Then I get jobs based on the new work and I’m flying high and loving making things. And then before you know it, I’m making too much work! And you know what happens next...
Who or what inspires you and your work?
Kayla: NATURE! It’s always there for me inspirationally. Anytime I go hiking or camping I always come back full to the brim with energy and inspiration. I typically incorporate animals and nature into my work one way or another. I enjoy finding humor in the small nuances of our world and in human interactions with nature. Here are some of my favorite illustrators that never cease to amaze and inspire:
Teagan White, Carson Ellis, Rebecca Green :), Jen Hill, Becca Stadtlander, Benjamin Schipper, Jessica Hische, and Anne Benjamin.
Rebecca: Most of my personal narratives are based off of real world experiences, real people, and everyday magic. It’s rare for me to just dream up a story that doesn’t have a grounding in my day to day life. If you just start asking and looking, it’s so easy to find inspiration everywhere. Once I take the little piece of inspiration, I start painting and by the time I’m done, most times, the story and the character have morphed so much that it doesn’t seem set in real life at all.
Kayla Stark "Sheep"
How do you feel about Nashville’s artist community? Can it be better, or is it something other cities should aspire to be?
Kayla: I enjoy the neighborhood art scenes more that the main downtown area. For example, I really look forward to the East Side Art Stumble every month for it’s showcase of talent, variety, and welcoming atmosphere. I also enjoy the print scene here in Nashville. Places like Sawtooth Printshop, Isle of Printing, and Hatch Show Print, are always blowing my mind with their amazing work and events. I think there is always room for growth and improvement in any place, but I do think Nashville is doing a darn good job in the art scene.
Rebecca: Being so new to Nashville, it’s hard for me to say. From what little I have seen, I’d say the art community here is bursting, and things seem exciting and possible. It’s definitely not stagnant, and it seems everyone I meet here is optimistic and welcoming. Sure, it’s got a lot of room to grow, but the best part about that is that Nashville actually seems like a place a community can grow. I’m excited to be part of it all and to see what happens as time goes on. I hope opportunities continue to open up and connect people from all over the city.
Did you ever imagine you’d be a part of something like this growing up?
Kayla: I never thought that it would happen this soon. I guess I always assumed I would eventually be more involved in the art scene, and I hoped that I would be in a position where I could help bring artists together. I just always thought I would be much older before any of it started happening. I’m SO happy that I found someone who gets just as excited as I do about making things happen. I think our combined excitement is what has helped us actually act on our ideas instead of just talking about them.
Rebecca: If you would have asked me five years ago or even a year ago, what my dream studio would be like, I would have answered, "A big open room with lots of light where 3-5 artists have workspaces. No walls - just people making things, music and coffee going, and a little space to sit down and chat about life and work. The space could also house different events such as pop-up shops and artist lectures." It’s strange I didn’t think about all of that when we were opening The Warren but the other day, I was looking around at the space, and it dawned on me that my dream space was finally a reality. I’ve had many other studios but this, this is what I’ve always wanted.
Rebecca Green "Sometimes"
Pop Question! What’s your favorite local Nashville band?
Rebecca: SANDRA BULLETS!
You can purchase work by Rebecca and Kayla on their websites! Be sure to follow @rebeccagreenillustration and @kayla_stark on all things social to keep up-to-date with their current and future projects.
All Drink and Draw photos by Kellie Leming and Liz Earle.
FOUND is a monthly series by Original Fuzz Magazine. We aim to discover visual artists from every corner of the world, no matter the background or creative vision. We believe that all art is as important to our culture as music, words, news, science, even religion. FOUND celebrates the visual and those who create it, serving as a platform for the creative pioneers who embody Original Fuzz and our products.
FOUND is brought to you by Liz Earle, a freelance writer and purveyor of curiosity and imagination in the arts.