13 of the Best Art Workshops for Austin Creatives And Makers
Learn from professionals and discover new passions with a community of crafters
By Holly Cowart
Whenever I ask folks about their favorite reason to live in Austin, I’ve noticed a pattern in their replies: community. It’s not just the invaluable resources offered, but the individuals committed to sharing their knowledge through workshops and digital guides so that others can thrive in their passions and pastimes. And here, there’s no shortage of talented and creative minds sparking joy through design and art.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about joining a class but haven’t known where to start. Maybe you’ve seen something cool online you want to try or are looking for ways to turn your hobby into profit. Well, this is your sign to finally sign up for that workshop and discover a crafty new skill! Unleash your curious and playful side and get inspired with this distinctly Austin list of makers and shakers that prove inspiration is just a click away.
“For me, calligraphy is more than just pretty letters,” explains Amanda Reid. “It is an EXPERIENCE.” Updating the time-honored process of hand lettering with modern technique, the owner of eponymous Amanda Reid Designs finds the act of creating elegantly written sentiments to be a rewarding form of self-care. Her approachable virtual and live classes cover all of the fundamentals while giving aspiring letterers a dynamic learning environment and expert advice. Reid is also the creator of an online community called Calligraphers of Color, which provides essential resources and celebrates diversity within the industry.
Line Drawing, Oil Painting & Embroidery
It’s possible you’ve already heard of The Cathedral and maybe even had the chance to visit one of their many exhibitions, live performances or intimate mixers that uplift the voices of local female artists. But you might not know the coworking space also regularly collaborates with sister company Creative Box Studios to hold interactive workshops. Catie Lewis’ line drawing sessions are perfect practice for artists of any level while Mary Rochford brings the basics to life with oil painting and embroidery. Plus, it’s a proven fact that crafting is way more entertaining with bottomless cocktails and tasty snacks!
Located inside the beautiful Ballet Austin, there exists a place to unleash your inner Dancing Queens and Kings! Movement is a powerful expression of art and culture, and what better place to learn than with leaders of Austin’s performing arts industry? Shake up your routine with an assortment of classes from the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness like hip-hop, jazz, contemporary and, of course, ballet. There are also tons of international styles to discover from West Africa to Latin America and beyond. Here, accessibility is key, with nearly 100 lessons available virtually, including dance fitness classes for those searching for a different way to work out. Find your fit and get moving!
Artist Mercedez Rex’s distinct method of water marbling came from creative experimentation, which led her from dyes to pigments and textiles to silk and paper. Specializing in the process of monoprinting, every captivating pattern is completely one-of-a-kind and transferrable onto your preferred material, resulting in functional works of art that can be worn and used daily. “I love how user-friendly and intuitive the medium is,” she says. “It allows people to move past their preconceived notions of being ‘not creative’ and leave with a new idea about what is possible for themselves.” Rex is available for art parties, individual workshops and virtual sessions, with DIY marbling kits found in the online shop. Follow @mercedezrexdesigns on Instagram and subscribe to her mailing list to stay up to date with future schedules, including upcoming holiday-themed lessons.
If you’ve ever seen the incredible mosaics of meat and cheese on social media and wished you knew how to compose your own stunning display, Colette Wetzel is here to help. The charcuterie board master and founder of Cultured Grazing Co. hosts hour-long digital and in-person classes that teach inquiring minds how to craft the perfect spread from curated, locally-sourced ingredients. A minimum of eight guests are required for the personal or branded workshops, which come with every delicious treat you’ll need. The colorful creations also offer the opportunity to gather with friends and spend time doing something that’s as enjoyable to make as it is to eat.
Have you been dreaming of furthering your arts education and honing your talents in a professional setting? Located in the Canopy complex in East Austin, Atelier Dojo was formed in 2018 by local artists Jennifer Balkan, Denise Fulton and Karen Offutt to help committed artists become masters of their craft. With its rotating roster of skilled instructors, the school offers a range of course options that dive into classic approaches to drawing and painting in figurative realism. Students can choose from six-week-long intensives that oversee the completion of a project to one-time virtual open studios and in-person workshops. For those looking to take things a step further, there’s even a full-fledged, three-year academic program with specialized curriculum leading from long pose figure drawings to color theory.
Film & Technology
Austin is one of the ultimate cities for movie buffs, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to an award-winning organization devoted to helping independent filmmakers thrive. Nonprofit Motion Media Arts Center, which is also behind alternative coworking venue Austin Cinemaker Space, shares an extensive list of resources for those looking to break into the cinematic world. Whether you prefer to be holding the camera or behind the scenes, this is a conducive place to develop your passions and projects with tools for everything from pre- to post-production. The school also has an array of youth programs for fine-tuning your future movie stars.
Home Furniture Projects
If you’re a fan of all-things DIY or are constantly scrolling Pinterest for new projects, Silk & Sage Design is a must. Co-founded by Katie Lang Brown and Brian Brown in 2015, the brand has assisted numerous Austinites with custom furniture projects, color consulting and quality home goods. Next to informative guides and digital how-tos, they also instruct clients on how to upgrade their furniture themselves with sustainable materials and durable processes. Find endless home inspo and mark your calendars for more paint-focused classes starting January 2022, including useful techniques for updating furniture and interior finishes with colorful boho flair.
Sometimes the creation process is better when you can get your hands dirty. Mud Studio collaborates with top notch Austin ceramicists to teach makers of all ages and ability levels how to build masterpieces from the ground up with one-time workshops, six-week classes and membership programs. The Bouldin Creek facility comes complete with 10 potters wheels, in-house glazes, hand tools, an electric kiln and plenty of clay. Once you’ve gotten enough experience under your belt, stop by for open studio hours to work on enviable projects at your own pace.
Mosaic & Street Art
This eastside arts collective is run by an impressive panel of muralists, street artists and more, including founder Luis Angelo, better known to some as ULOANG. The community-driven organization doubles as a rentable studio and workshop space, forming a dedicated place for creatives to connect, learn and sell their work. Every skill level is welcome to the hands-on courses, which cover cool topics like graffiti, guitar set up and mosaics — something that immediately piqued my interest. The mesmerizing collages are taught through The Mosaic Workshop and can be applied to coasters, clay pots, stepping stones and more, surely to stand out as gifts and keepsakes.
Arts & Crafts
This charming stationary studio and retail shop in Springdale General is dedicated to independently designed paper goods. Pei Sim, who founded the small business back in 2015, loves sharing her passion for crafts while supporting the community around her. Workshops in the past have vastly varied from bullet journaling and candle pouring to book binding and embroidery. But be warned, these spots can fill up quickly. Check in during November for the 2022 Q1 calendar release to snag your place and don’t forget to pick up some pretty stationary along the way.
Screen printing is an ancient practice that involves applying ink to stenciled designs and transferring them onto a variety of materials with mesh. Housed inside a 1200-square-foot studio in East Austin, ASPCO gives new and experienced screen printers a communal space to expand on their personal work. What began as an ad on Craigslist from founder James Tootle has evolved into a volunteer-based network of dedicated artists, and everyone’s welcome. No prerequisites are needed for the four-week-long intro classes that come with access to professional tools like a six-color press and washout booth. There are also four membership types, with part owners getting an opinion on how the facility operates.
Floral Design & Arrangements
Nothing brightens up a home or day like eloquently arranged bouquets of fresh flowers. For those looking to find a unique hobby, step up their hosting game or even break into the industry, this community truly lives and breathes floral design. Owner and expert Mel Frontino guides fun and flexible seminars that are offered in both private and community settings, teaching different ways to turn foliage into stunning centerpieces and flower crowns. Prefer to learn from the comfort of home? Check out a Masterclass with Mel or view a pre-recorded online class to get insider tips on your own time. And make sure to keep an eye out for exciting future plans from seasonal wreath workshops to a two-day floral design immersion in January.