Creating a Creatives’ Space

by RaeAnne Marsh

Creative Center of Scottsdale

 Michelle Biely, owner of The Creative Center of Scottsdale, describes the business she founded in 2014 as a co-working space for messy artists. “This is a place where painters, sculptures, clothing designers, hat makers, stained glass window makers and any other artists who make a mess can come and be part of a community,” she says, noting the center’s open and informal arrangement enables artists to bounce ideas off one another, collaborate together and make friendships. 

“The company was started by accident during a conversation I was having with a few entrepreneur friends,” she relates. “At the time, I was doing pet photography and needed a place to set my studio up. Another friend of mine was a woodworker and was looking for an open area to create his pieces. Inspiration hit when I realized there were no businesses in the Valley that catered only to creatives. I resolved to open a space with no walls so we could work in harmony and hang out together. Traditional office spaces can seem stifling and suffocating for those in this field — with certain rules and restrictions around how loud they can be, how much room they can take up and how their materials might ‘ruin’ the office.”

Creative Center of Scottsdale

Her first challenge was acceptance for the concept itself, as those closest to her told her it wouldn’t work because of a stigma or stereotype around artists that, they said, makes people think they have secrets, methods and pieces they don’t want to share. “I quickly realized if there were artists who fell into this category, they would not be the ones interested in the center.” Another challenge, of course, was getting the word out to fill the spaces. “Since I was a first-time business owner, my connections were somewhat limited outside the community of friends and artists I had created over the years. Thankfully, being situated on a piece of Scottsdale Road with high traffic allowed me to organically spread the word and garner interest.”

Biely considers the best piece of advice she received, which has kept her motivated in growing the center, is to take the time to invest in the artists themselves. “Seeing new tenants come in get excited about having a dedicated space to explore their creative energy is the thing that keeps me going.” That, and the positive feedback they give her. She has also begun to help spread their work to the world through different efforts, like a pop-up fair scheduled for March that will be free and open to the public. Initiatives like this will help get their name and pieces out into the world. “I am excited to be helping the local art community expand its reach,” she says.   

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