All photos by Keith Burnson
We’ve spent a few days this week profiling some of the awesome faces you’ll see at the one-year anniversary for Workspace. At the center of it all will be Chris Kelly, a REAX alum who has come through for the bay area in a big way.
A chat with Kelly will find him heaping loads of praise on everyone else that’s supported, helped, and inspired him along the way. We got him to open up a little about the last year, tell us about all the changes he’s been through, and how it feels to his mark slowly infiltrate some of the things we all love about Tampa.
Have a read below and see some pictures from tomorrows show which opens at 6 p.m. Workspace is located at 4501 N. Florida Ave in Seminole Heights.
SubAp! I know you’ve got the Joshua T. Pearson show coming up, but you’re also getting ready for a pretty big BOXED show coming up. How’s it feel to see the response from all the artists and unpack their contributions. How are you going to show it all?
Yup, we’re pretty pumped to be working with Josh, he’s a great artist and will have a solid show. After his show, the BOXED show is up and that’s our one-year anniversary show. We’ve got 40 different artists contributing to BOXED. Twenty of them are in-state artists and the other 20 are out-of-state artists. We’ve got some heavy hitters in that show and I couldn’t be more happy to bring their art to the Bay area.
It’s been pretty awesome to work with everyone so far, but not everyone I approached wanted to do the show. It’s a lot to ask someone to make something unique, pack and ship it out, and hope to sell it. We’ll show it all in our small gallery. 40 different pieces sounds like a lot, but each artist received a 13”x13” box we made at Built. I’ve gotten two pieces back so far… It’s unreal opening a package from Ed Templeton to be honest. That’s some childhood hero stuff right there!
Saw that Trinity did the shirt printing, but is that your design?
Yeah, we worked with Trinity Graphics out of St. Pete on our latest t-shirts. Scooter over at Trinity is a great guy and he works with me pretty closely. I did the designs for both shirts. We have a USPS knock-off graphic which was used on the packaging for the BOXED show. All of the out-of-state artists received their boxes in a unique screen printed box. The other t-shirt design was based off of a type glyph I found. I believe it was a no piracy icon of sorts.. I made some changes to it and threw it on a shirt!
Your design is actually in a lot of places around this city, what’s it feel like to see it about whether it’s a logo or past art?
Well, as a designer and artist I love seeing my work in public spaces. It’s fun for me, but it’s also how I make a living. I got started designing with publications. Through that medium, my work was instantly transformed into this public “thing” that I had never thought about before.
To see others interact with your work is pretty rad. It’s fun to watch people look at something you’ve done and have a connection with it. Whether it’s a skateboard, beer bottle, or logo, I just like working with good people who are doing good things. When that’s the case, the work comes out good and people tend to enjoy it.
You left the Skatepark Of Tampa, and forged out on your own a while back. What’s the new independence been like, and what are some of the growing pains you’ve experienced as far as Workspace goes?
Man, I made a a lot of changes between 2012-2013. I left two different jobs working for some great companies. It’s hard making those decisions. I knew once I was going to try it on my own, it would be a re-build year.
The same time I left SPoT, my Mom almost died and that put a lot in perspective for me. I guess it just came time to do something and see where it went… It’s been one year now completely solo and I couldn’t be happier. Don’t get me wrong, there’s days where I’m like “Shit, am I going to get more work?” but for the most part, things keeps working out so I’m just rolling with it and trying new things.
What is your proudest moment in the gallery’s short existence?
That’s tough one, but I’d have to say just earning the trust from fellow artists. I respect a lot of people I’ve been able to work with, and to gain their mutual respect is about it for me. I just like working with good people and creating some cool experiences. I’ve been able to do that and that makes me pretty proud.
What went into your decision to open in Seminole Heights, and how do you feel about that choice now?
Andrew Watson from Built had the space open and was willing to work with me. I knew it would be cool to show art in a small space, inside a super unique environment. At the Built warehouse, you can see a full show in the gallery and then check out what Built is working on. There’s not a lot of places like that, but we offer that and try to make it a good time. I love the entire area from Seminole Heights to Ybor, it all has the same feel for me, but I like living in Seminole Heights… and working here too. This neighborhood is full of great people!
Photo by Amy Martz
Lastly, who are some of your favorite artists that we might not know about?
Thomas Campbell has definitely made a big impression on me. His surf films opened up doors in my mind, I was able to see how you can apply your work to many different mediums and I think he does an amazing job at that. Sadly, he didn’t reply to my invitation to BOXED, ha!
Tampa’s own Theo Wujcik is a favorite for sure. He was a good man and an amazing artist.
I could go on and on…