In 1976-79 I had an artisan co-op in the San Francisco bay area. I
loved it. In that co-op I had jewelry artists, ceramics, sculptors,
glass(stained, carved and hot),fiber and wood workers. When I moved
to Gulfport.Fl I wanted one again but got no takers. This is how I
ran my co-op.
I had working artist in the studio space and in the retail space.
They didn’t have to be the same ones.The studio artist were given
Depending on the retail space the artist wanted they had to work
retail hours or hire someone to work to cover the time. The time was
proportional to the space. They could also cover the retail floor at
the same time they were working studio space with limitations.
The retail space for non-studio artists was a juried space by the
board of directors. The board was voluntary for a year term.
4.The terms of studio space and or retail space were contractual,
drawn up by a lawyer wherein were the consequences of non
Shows for participating artist were on a monthly basis drawn from
a hat with the prior 3 artist were not included, or a vote by all
participating artists of whom should be showcased.This was a
consensus decision of all under contract.
Any artist that wanted to leave the co-op had to give 60 days
notice and give recommendations for replacement artists so we
maintained a quality or craftsmanship and work ethic. (generally we
had a waiting list to get into the gallery and or studio space.
The studio space was open to the public to watch artists at work.
The public space was defined separate from the work space by a glass
partition for insurance reasons and not to disturb the work in
All artist working the retail space were responsible for
maintenance of the property interior i.e… cleaning, stocking new
inventory, stocking gift wraps/boxing,
Bookkeeping was my responsibility and a fee was part of the
contract for the retail space.
Any artist that worked the retail space didn’t have to pay the
consignment of 30% to the gallery. (we did have a few artists that
had no means to work the retail space)
The studio artists paid for the studio space and retail space
according to space size.
The non-studio juried artists paid according to space size.
Liability, damage/theft insurance and utilities was a
consideration of payments in the space the artists co-oped.
The studio space had a common area that the artists could do
classes if so desired with a published schedule of upcoming classes.
It was the artists responsibility to provide materials, rent the
time and pay utilities based on what they were doing. i.e. ceramic
kilns take more energy than fabric weaving.
Great communication was essential with the artists and myself
i.e. if someone could not do their retail time I had to cover it.
Generally there were two people to cover the retail space especially
when the were both studio artists working at the same time the
I found that the diversity of product made a better retail space
but made it difficult for studio space. I ended up with more gas or
hot workers in studio and a greater diversity in retail space which
made this situation more palatable to all.
The common area had shared equipment for the gas/ hot workers
and jewelers as well as the classes given, it was centered in the
My intention of the space utilization and me being an architect
had no bearing on the outcome of actual usage with the artists that
wanted the studio space and retail space. I had to be a
contortionist of compromise to get the co-op started.
All-in-all I would do it again in a heart beat if I could find the
artists, space and funding. I have the greatest of memories for that
time, support of endeavors, development and comrodories. In addition
add a web site for better exposure to the retail area, classes and
perspective artists. (1976 there was not the internet access there is
best of luck DO IT