True North Studios moved into 455 NE 71st Ave midway through 2019 and opened their doors in September. A year later and they have yet to host their grand opening. COVID-19 has delayed some of the celebratory plans, but they are open and accepting new members.
Run by owner Kaiden Boehm with Steph Szabo, True North Studios is self-described as a membership-based functional workspace, community center, creative incubator, and classroom. It serves as a co-working space for artists and creative people. Unlike their quiet and clean counterpart, this creative space gets messy and loud by design.
True North Studios currently offers two levels of membership. All full members receive a keycard granting 24-hour access to the building and use of the shared workspaces and supplies. Beyond shared access, there are twelve rentable work unites that provide 50 square feet of dedicated space. Each personal area is customizable by the renter to suit their needs. This membership level is ideal for small businesses or studios wanting to move out of a home setup and into a dedicated space. There are eight units on the mezzanine level and four on the ground floor. Two reserved workspaces on the first level are for artists with specific mobility needs. The building and restrooms are ADA compliant.
All levels of membership have access to the kitchen and the shared adjustable work tables throughout the building. A screen printing station and exposure room are available. The computer printing and scanning lab is upstairs next to the lounge space. Some general supplies are available as part of the membership fee. People without a rented area have access to bin storage options for the material they bring in.
True North Studios is the iteration of an idea that started as Magnetic North back in 2012. When priced out of their former location at 20th and Belmont, Boehm began making plans to relocate further out from the central city. “rent got really expensive, and we kind of hit a capacity where we couldn’t continue paying.”
With access to good transit options and located closer to where artists live, Montavilla became a natural choice to move the existing community from Magnetic North. Boehm sees cost-effective locations for the creative community as a diminishing resource. “We keep losing all of our affordable art spaces in town.” The relocation was the only alliterative to closing down, and portland would have lost another artistic community space to the wave of development seen over the last two decades.
COVID-19 has had its impact on True North Studios. The events and classes they planned on offering to increase membership have not been possible. A dedicated classroom that was supposed to provide courses for artists remains unused. The community and support cultivated in facilities like this are difficult with social distancing measures.
Even though they cannot offer all the benefits they had imagined for this business, the core function of membership is there; creative people, working their craft in an environment with other talented individuals. Now is a critical time for new members to join this group. They need to replace members who have had to leave and fill the spaces that had yet to rent out before the pandemic. Participation now will ensure that the future benefits of membership will be there as normalcy returns.
Boehm has plans in the works to not only reward members but also drive their success. True North Studios is building a program to offer the assistance of an expert craftsperson. Not everyone has a full range of skills for an entire project. Boehm envisions facilitating paid sessions for skilled people to assist on projects, providing an added revenue source for artists.
Instructing artists on building their work into a business is another method of helping them remain successful. Boehm wants to “bring in resources for artists themselves so that they can… make their craft into a sustainable career.” When the classroom can open, True North Studios will offer instruction on the business side of art. Boehm has seen fellow artists struggle with keeping their business running. “There’s a lot to do when you’re running your own business.” That is the type of support a community workspace can provide.
In a time when creative spaces get sacrificed for work from home or homeschool environments, finding a new dedicated location is essential. True North Studios offers a well-equipped facility for artists to work in a place designed for what they do. Now is an ideal time to invest in your craft and find an escape from home, right in the neighborhood. Contact True North Studios to find out what membership level will work best for your needs.