At first glance, Melissa Krawetz and Arthur Paguio’s design studio and art gallery doesn’t give away much.
Three floors up and tucked in a corner of the Merchant’s Building on McDermot Avenue, First Known Studios is small and quaint, accentuated by a narrow pillar in the centre of the room, the walls adorned with artwork of some of Winnipeg’s emerging artists.
But it’s a part-time gig, a work in progress, as the two graphic designers continue to build up their names and turn their studio into the next hip art gallery in the Exchange.
“I think most graphic designers are very artistic but at the same time we do a lot of commercial work,” said Paguio. “It’s nice to have an art gallery where we’re be able to do our own art instead of just doing commercial art.”
“You’re pleasing someone else, you’re not designing for yourself,” chimed in Krawetz. “You’re just the middleman between the creative director and the client. I mean I feel that our gallery… it’s really got me painting again.”
Added Paguio: “I felt like I really needed to get back into it, so it’s a good way to a light that fire under us and start getting a little bit more creative.”
Though both work as graphic designers for separate firms in the city, their studio was first born shortly after they graduated from Red River College in 2009 and freelance work started flowing in. They rented their studio space last spring, and only recently put up the first batch of art for sale.
“Once we got the space, we fixed it up a bit. We figured we would put up art anyways, so why not have stuff up for sale and try to promote local artists?” Krawetz said.
However, it’s not the perfect space, the duo admits.
“We want to separate it. A bigger space would be good especially if we wanted to do an art show,” Krawetz said. “But 20 people in here would kind of be crowded and you want more than 20 people to come to your art show.
“It’s a way to promote and get people in here and talk to them about what we do. I guess it’s turned into a one-stop shop. “Hopefully (it will) bring another portion of the market in here and get our name out there,” she said.
Viewing the art is by appointment only for now, as they work to find someone who can help manage the space full time.
The first batch of artwork ranges from graffiti-style to digital art to oil on canvas, and includes artists Steve McConnell, Gavin Ho, Melissa Trainor.
“We wanted to get in as much as we could and not really limit it to just photography or just paintings,” Krawetz said. “We want to head in that direction, maybe every couple months we have just one artist in here.
“But we’re still getting the idea of what a gallery is and all entails and how to do it.”
For more information, visit www.firstknownstudios.com.
Published in Volume 65, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 23, 2010)