Fresh coffee and a friendly pooch are just a couple of the perks at Eloise Evans’ bustling creative hub The Neighbourhood Studio.
Missing the collaboration and affordable access to equipment she’d enjoyed at university, a post-grad Eloise Evans found herself thinking it’d be really nice to have a screen-printing studio set up with all the tools and lots of space to work with others. Such studios are nothing new, they’re all over the world, but it was time for Wellington to have one. Hello, The Neighbourhood Studio.
When did The Neighbourhood Studio come to life and what do you do here?
I started planning for it in late 2014, began the fit-out in April 2015, and finally opened the door that August. I take care of the day-to-day running of the studio, organising classes, doing custom printing jobs, updating the website, posting on social media, and all the other bits that come with owning a business.
Where is the studio and how did you find the space? It’s tucked away in a large warehouse on Adelaide Road, nestled between Newtown and Berhampore, both bustling creative suburbs. Formally the Briscoes pressed-tin factory from the 1900s, the warehouse has been converted into an assortment of units, all housing different businesses, including a carpet company, a tattoo studio, a sewing workroom, an architecture practice and our favourite neighbours, Richie and Cam of Rich Coffee Roasters.
After I’d spent months trawling Trade Me and viewing giant, cold, expensive warehouses, a friend suggested I get in touch with her old landlords to see if they had anything – and thankfully they did. When I first moved in, the unit was a single open space, but my lovely landlords built a wet room and darkroom for me and fitted in a front door. I then kitted out the studio with the help of some very clever friends; everything here has been purpose-built for the space as it has quite a few quirks.
What kind of vibe do you have going? The studio has a homely feel – it’s really an extension of my house as it’s filled with all sorts of trinkets and knick-knacks that I’ve collected over the years. Being right next door to a coffee roaster also has its perks. Richie and Cam open the roastery every Saturday and on Sundays when we have our markets. There’s a really nice community growing around both of our businesses and it’s always fun to meet their clients and introduce mine; good things are certainly happening here!
Do you have a daily routine in the studio? Every day starts with a loop around the field across the road with my dog, Albert, followed by a cup of tea while answering emails, organising custom printing jobs and ordering supplies. After lunch, and another loop around the field, Albert and I get stuck in working in the print room, either coating and exposing screens for clients, preparing for the night class, or printing products for the studio shop – although this all goes out the window if someone needs an order done ASAP.
And what about the events, workshops and whatnot that you run? Depending on the time of the year, I have my fingers in so many different pies that it means no day or week is the same. We run screen-printing classes and workshops about natural dye, offer custom printing for businesses, stock and sell supplies, and host markets and private functions.
I run a design market every few months, as well as our Plant & Ceramic pop-up, so that takes a lot of organising. And I also run a beginners’ screen-printing class every two months, so most Thursdays you’ll find me preparing for class that evening, coating screens, mixing inks and working with our lovely students. It’s great fun getting to meet so many other creatives.
My largest client is Stone Street Studios in Miramar, where they work on pre-production for all the big films that come through Wellington. I work with the costume and art departments, coating and exposing all their screens for them to take back and print with. Its hard, fast work, but I’ve had the pleasure of working with some insanely talented folks.
Who else works at The Neighbourhood Studio? A whole range of people come through: current and former students, local textile designers and illustrators, and friends who I think come to work just to pat Albert! Hannah Webster of Forest Drawn prints all of her work here, and Flora Waycott and Amy van Luijk both base themselves here when they’re in New Zealand; Flora and Amy were two of my tutors at Massey University and we’ve been good friends ever since. Jacinta Stevenson of Plump & Co hosts her Wellington workshops at the studio, and there are always runners from the film studios dashing in and out, too.
Where do you look for inspiration for the growth of the business and your own creative practice? What I do at the studio seems to change and grow with each person I see and collaborate with here. Each designer and maker I meet is up to something exciting, and I consider myself lucky to be able to work with them and help them bring an idea or product to life.
What are you working on at the moment? We’re in full swing with printing jobs, Fix & Fogg just ordered another run of tea towels, and we’re printing a top-up of tees for a local kids’ label. I’m finishing off designs for children’s furniture makers FohFum, who I’ve been working with designing prints for a new range of linen and accessories they’re releasing. I’m also working on a T-shirt print for fashion label Nix, and scheduling new classes
and workshops for the coming year.
Any grand plans on the cards that you can tell us about? I have a few different collaborations lined up, which I’m super excited about – working with local illustrators and printing limited-edition runs of products we sell in the studio and online. I’m planning a ‘repeat pattern’ class to teach students how to print lengths of fabric. And I also want to grow our online shop and stock a range of screen-printing supplies to make printing at home easy-peasy.
Interview Alice Lines
Photography Larnie Nicolson