Artists can have a tough time finding a foothold in today’s market, and art as a subject has been pushed aside to some extent over the past couple decades. Established artists may even struggle with maintaining a certain level of recognizability.
An up-and-coming art collaborative project was started in Spokane during COVID in November of 2020, and has looked to help build new interest in art. About half a year later in May of 2021 the business space officially opened. The company has since left a strong footprint in the local and regional art community.
Make A Difference Co. Lab Studios, also known as M.A.D Co. Lab Studios has been working to help new artists or anyone curious about art find and establish the motivation, connections, or tools they might need to fully dive into art. The company provides various options for various interests as explained by Owner Morgan Walters.
“M.A.D Co. Lab Studios has an array of different options for artists,” Walters said. “Whether that would be ceramics classes, the open collaborative art studio membership, which allows them to come in and just do art through the day. We also are involved in community events, and we offer art classes. We have provided extras and studio space for music videos, and you never know who’s going to show up and what they are going to need as an artist.”
Being able to support other people in their individual artistic interests is one of the main components that helps keep the collaborative open to a broader audience according to Walters, emphasizing the idea that art is all over society, but is overlooked in many cases. Walters recognizes art that is used in everything from developing simple flyers to newsletters and all the way on to music video production, painting, and sculpture.
The collaborative also helps artists in whatever level they need, whether they are just starting and trying to see what medium they are most interested in, or established artists that may just need help marketing their work.
“Some artists are established and may need marketing,” Walters said. “Others may have a marketing team but just need help finding some places to show their works. Other artists are brand new and just got their business license and may be looking for a logo design or may want to develop stickers to help supplement their income.”
All of these art opportunities are available in the second floor of a nostalgic brick warehouse in east central Spokane, and the people driving the project look to simply help artists and creatives develop a positive outlook and personal growth through art.
Walters points to the fact that the art market in Spokane can be tough to get into, and especially if it doesn’t fit a certain style.
“The Spokane market is really tough for artists,” said Walters. “If your art is a little out of the bell-curve it can be even tougher, so we market some works to New York, Seattle, Portland, etc. because we feel that Spokane has artists that don’t get the recognition here that they would in those larger markets.”
“Their work is definitely of the caliber to sell in the demographics of those larger markets,” she added.
According to Walters this wasn’t originally part of her plans, as she was a criminal justice graduate at first, but due to seizures from post traumatic stress disorder she had to re-evaluate her path. She started focusing on art and craft fairs, and eventually that led into the business relationships that led to M.A.D Co. Lab Studios.
She claims it was a tough road however, and as an artist she struggled to sell her art at first but having overcome that initial struggle showed her how she can help future artists.
“I was never great at selling my own art,” Walters said. “I would always be at vendor shows at other people’s tables, but for me art is very therapeutic. Now that I’m running this business, I barely have time for my own art, but the reward really comes in when you help someone else.”
M.A.D Co. Lab also works to help the community by participating in community events such as the upcoming community clean-up on October 13 which is a partnership with another local non-profit. According to Walters, the group also communicates with regional Art Commissions, hopefully to someday facilitate public art displays and wall hangings in city facilities. Those actions can really bolster the art careers for artists and help get their foot in the door according to Walters.
Referring to the regional college population, Walters spoke of helping them with passes, and being involved in a scholarship program. As she explains, the colleges tend to teach art, but stop there.
“The schools always tend to teach the art,” Walters said. “They don’t teach these creatives how to build their art into their business, so when they get out of school and the business factors hit them they aren’t sure where to look. That’s where we can help.”
Moving forward, Walters hopes the company can continue to gradually increase participation and expand into different art projects.
“School contracts, classes, and everything else are really picking up lately,” said Walters. “I can’t imagine what the future might hold. We never know who we are going to talk to or work with and what kind of a ripple effect any one person might have.”
“We have tried making plans even just three months out, and then someone walks in the door the following day and every one of those plans changes and it opens a new door in the M.A.D saga,” she concluded.