Dentonites, Heather Gregory and Tristan Bynum of the forthcoming Maker's Space have plans for you. They're cooking up a concept and plan for starting a collaborative, members-based creative workspace in town and they want you to set up shop inside. We've been watching similar spaces pop up all over the country - Brooklyn, Portland, Seattle... even Dallas (read: Weld), and we can't wait to have one right here in our own backyard. Having a central hub in which folks practicing various arts can not only engage one another but also learn, think and grow as artists, hobbyists and entrepreneurs. That can't be a bad thing, can it? 

Make sure not to miss them at the Denton Creative's Mixer next Monday. They're hosting, speaking and presenting along with Kevin Roden and several small creative businesses that have all started right here in our incredible city. 

Tell us about your history with Denton.

Heather: My parents were born and raised in Denton.  I lived in Denton all my life until I was 19.  I left to go to college in Austin and then lived outside of Texas for 6 years.  I returned to Texas in December 2012 to be closer to my family.  After deciding to relocate to Texas I considered moving to Austin, Dallas and Denton.  I ultimately chose to live in Denton because of the strong sense of community, independent spirit, creative culture and untapped potential that I see here.  I have been back for just over 5 months and have been so inspired and motivated by the people, ideas, creativity and enthusiasm that I have experienced and am thrilled to get to be a part of it.

Tristan: I am a Denton native so I spent most of my childhood and adolescent years in Denton. I moved outside of Texas when I was 19 and spent a good 6 years away, wandering and experiencing what the world had to offer. I returned to Denton in the spring of 2010 to be closer to family. Upon my return I started to notice that Denton was on the verge of a great change­ socially, politically, and economically. Everything that I had left Denton for was now happening and I wanted in. I want to help build the community to its fullest potential­ whatever that is, and help to create a space where we can take that potential and turn it into something innovative and vital for the Denton community.

Why a collaborative arts space?

Tristan: Denton already has many creatives that collaborate and create amazing work on their own, but what Maker Space is looking to create is a space where those collaborative efforts can become better connected to the community at large. By creating a community space for creative efforts we can really open the lines of communication amongst creatives, of all disciplines, and potentially push Denton forward into becoming a vital/sustainable creative source.

Heather: Because there are so many creative people that live here and there is no infrastructure for them to work within.  I went to school for Architecture and it wasn't until I graduated that I fully realized what an amazing community I had been a part of and the extensive resources that I had access to.  Since graduating in 2006, I've missed the feeling of a design studio, the accountability and inspiration that other creative people can offer.  Being a freelance designer I personally would benefit from working in a community of creative people and access to tools that are cost prohibitive for me to invest in and believe that there are other people in Denton that feel the same way. 

Can you elaborate to what exactly you’re intending to create? What kind of space or services are you planning to provide?

Heather: We want to create a space for creatives of all disciplines to come together to make whatever it is they make.  We will provide well designed and inspiring space that enables creativity and collaboration.  Maker Space will also provide the tools, knowledge and other resources for people to develop or expand their business endeavors. 

There will be office space and conference room for those that desire dust-free creative space.  Imagine graphic designers, web developers, architects, videographers, and illustrators all working away on their computers or drawings boards in a design studio setting. 

There will be flexible workshop space with work benches and a hand tool library where people can create more “tangible” work.  Jewelry makers, fashion designers, letter pressers, painters and many others would bring in the materials that they need for their work and have access to tools, space and a creative community.
There will be a woodshop with tools that help furniture makers, fabricators, wood workers and sign makers with their work.

There are other ideas that have been tossed around like a dark room, a laser cutter, and electric kiln.  We have a running list of tools that we are considering including and it ultimately comes down to what the maker community of Denton needs.

How has maker-culture influenced you?

Heather: I love the practice of making.  I get so much joy from being connected to the source of creativity and believe that seeing what other people are making pushes me to a higher quality of my own work. 

There is a“craft” resurgence in other creative communities like Portland, OR and Marfa, TX.  People are coming together in support of food producers and preservers, brewers and distillers, makers of clothing, shoes, and accessories.  There is a lot of power that comes from purchasing something that was made by somebody you know.  The maker culture drives creative economies and connects people to each other and that community connection is a huge passion of mine.

Tristan: In a world of quick and easy everything; from the food we eat, to the products we buy, there just always feels like a desire for something more, something with a little bit of substance, a story, a connection to the maker. I feel an emptiness when participating with the quick and easy culture and that emptiness is what draws me towards maker-culture. Friends, neighbors, and people of the community making things for their community and thus creating a vital self-sustaining local economy. It would be incredibly empowering for Denton to be able to provide most of its goods and services locally and not depend on outside manufacturers to provide them for us. Denton has all of the pieces to create that kind of community and with a resource like Maker Space we would really like to help foster that type of maker community.

How has the creative community in Denton influenced your decision to start the Makers Space?

Heather: There is so much creativity in Denton!  We are known for our music culture, obviously, but there is so much more here that has been flying under the radar for far too long.  Our universities produce incredibly talented print makers, graphic designers, fiber artists, fine artists (I could go on) and when these talented individuals graduate, they don't see many opportunities in Denton to put those creative skills to work.  I want to start Maker Space so that they can see it's possible to make money off of creative work and to offer some support and infrastructure for them to take that first step.  My dream would be for Maker Space to really put Denton on the map for a diverse and thriving creative economy. 

Heather, you're heavily involved with Scrap. How do you see Maker Space and Scrap working together in the Denton creative market?

Heahter: I consider myself incredibly lucky to have a job that utilizes my skills in community organizing for an organization with a creative mission.  It puts me in direct contact with a lot of active artists and makers and I get to sell a product that I've always been passionate about (reused materials). 

There is a very natural overlap between these two organizations and it makes me excited to think of ways that we might work together.  I'd love to see SCRAP offering a discount to Maker Space members to encourage them to use reused materials in their work.  SCRAP doesn't have a very large space and when we had 100+ people there for our fund-raiser last December it was uncomfortably crowded.  I'd love to be able to host our next fund-raiser at Maker Space.  I also think that SCRAP hosting craft nights at Maker Space would be super fun.  If I let myself really dream, I can't help but imagine an artist in residency program that is in partnership between Maker Space and SCRAP.

In what ways do you think this space can positively affect our community?

Heather: The possibilities are endless. To start, better graphic design and aesthetics in our local businesses.  Creative start-ups and collaborations emerging from Maker Space members.  A stronger and more well rounded creative identity where the output is visible as you move through the city.  As Denton grows, I would hope to see more opportunities for the creative work staying in Denton and not needing to be outsourced to DFW and beyond.

Bringing creative people together is really powerful and there is no way I can predict the innovations and brilliant ideas that might be generated because of this space.

Tristan: I really want the space to create a sense of empowerment for the members and for the Denton community at large. There are so many great ideas floating around in this town and all they really need is a place to further develop and create them. As a business development resource, a community education center, a collaborative workspace, and as a supportive community space, Maker Space hopes to empower people with their ideas and assist in creating the kind of creative social and economic landscape that can benefit the entire community.

Heather you were part of a similar space in Portland. Tell us how that has influenced opening a collaborative maker studio?

Heather: Yes, I was a member of a space called ADX.  I was living in a really tiny travel trailer that I had renovated and was getting ready for a gallery show and literally just didn't have room to do my work.  I was a member for a couple of months and used the flex workshop space.  I saw first hand the work that was being produced and the results were innovative, creative, diverse and inspiring.

After moving back to Denton it didn't take long at all to see how much creativity exists in this city.  The idea came about a little selfishly, because I was having a hard time staying motivated working in my bedroom and garage studio so removed from anyone.  I realized that I would really benefit from having a space like ADX here in Denton and believed that I wasn't the only one.

What are some of the challenges you've run into so far while getting Maker Space up and running?

Heather: So far, the challenges have been minimal.  We have received so much positive support and feedback from the creative community here as well as from members of City Council and the City of Denton itself. 

The biggest challenges we can foresee at this point are raising the necessary capital and finding the right space.  We need a large, fairly open space (5,000 sq ft) and want that to be in downtown or industrial Denton and are hopeful that we find a property owner to is supportive of our idea and wants to work with us.

You guys are heading up the next Creatives Mixer. What should we expect? Who are you collaborating with for this event?

Heather: Yes, we are so excited about the next Denton Creatives Mixer.  Since Maker Space is co-hosting along with Kevin Roden, we wanted to highlight some of the creative start ups that exist here.  It was important for us to highlight individuals who are drivers of the creative economy here in Denton.  We have asked a few different businesses to talk about their experience of being a creative small business owner and are really excited about the lineup of speakers.  We will be hearing from DIME, Pan Ector Industries, Triple Threat Press, The Denton Community Market and Maker Space.

The mixer will also have lots of time dedicated to networking.  We want people to be able connect to resources, potential partners, property owners, etc. - so bring your business cards!

Favorite three things in/about Denton.

Tristan: The accessibility of our city government officials- the fact that I can call or even text local politicians or government workers and talk about issues surrounding Denton is incredible. I feel like everyone should know that that is part of what makes this city amazing- having access to change makers but also having the ability be a change maker. We can make this city what we want, we just have to speak up!

The Community- this is where I’m from and this is the community I love. 

The weather- I love the sun. 

Heather: Breakfast tacos. After living outside of Texas for 6 years I got tired of arguing the differences of a breakfast burrito vs a breakfast taco.

The community.  Seriously, I've been back for 5 months and already feel so connected to what's happening and who is making it happen.  The support that people have for each other is simply amazing.

The small town feel.  I love running into people I know.  There is a true friendliness to this place.

If Maker Space sounds like something you'd like to participate in, make sure you befriend them on Facebook. They haven't finalized their payment structure for when they open yet, but we do know that they'll be making the space available to a whole range of artists - from beginners and hobbyists to people who are running small businesses. They'll have tool libraries, co-working space and everything in between - with membership prices ranging from something around $10 a day for a drop in class to $300 a month for access to just about every artistic tool you could possibly imagine and a semi-permanent co-working space filled with interesting people you can talk about art and whether or not the final episode of Battlestar Galactica was good or not.