Lost Arts: A New Workspace for Ambitious Creatives

After work today, Liz and I headed over to Goose Island for an early tour of Lost Arts – the latest project by Kickstarter co-founder Charles Adler.

Billed as a new workspace for ambitious creatives, Lost Arts began as a smaller pop-up in 2015. Backed in part (of course) by a successful Kickstarter campaign of its own.

Today, we got to go take a tour of the new space on Goose Island, and to learn a bit more about this more permanent center and location.

As I understand it, Lost Arts is meant to be a place where creative folks, from all disciplines, can gather to learn and make things. Tech folks working on 3D printing, alongside sewers and screen printers, alongside drill presses and circular saws.

From the Division Blue Line stop, we hopped the 70 bus and got off at Cherry Avenue. Along the way, we passed a small field and Liz noticed two super small bunny rabbits (she’s got a sixth sense for bunnies).

Close up of the tiny guys.

Walking towards Cherry and Bliss, with a cloudy backdrop.

Outside, we found another visitor looking around for the entrance.

Together, we spotted a sign that seemed to show the way.

Not anymore!

At the main entrance, Charles greeted us (along with a few others who arrived at the same time), inviting everyone inside.

On the way in.

An enticing looking elevator. Later on, we would hear about how the space had previously been completely filled with boxes of legal documents. And how there was a magnificent space up on the sixth floor (now fully cleared), with a spectacular view. Guessing this is the way up.

In awe at the massive size of the space. A wall was constructed recently, framing all the current tools/stations on the West side… with this side left open for potential expansion.

The front desk.

One of several 3D printers.

Liz, investigating a small nut and bolt being printed.

Soldering station.

Tools in wait.

An ironing board, complete with a gravity feed iron.

Sewing station.

Another look at some of the 3D printers.

A large printer (though to be fair, I have seen larger).

I immediately thought of Bob on seeing this, and heard his voice say “You can never have too many clamps.”

I thought a lot about Bob, while touring the space. I think he would absolutely love it here.

Drill press and (I believe) a bandsaw.

Table saw, complete with dust collector.

CNC machine, which we learned can carve out designs out of wood (using SVG images).

Not exactly sure how this gets hooked up, but it looked really neat to me.

Test patterns.

Signs of a sign.

More power tools.

The doors in this building are just phenomenal.

Many more tools.

You’re enough. I promise. Made me think about that time I saw a really nice motivational sign in a grassy field.

A large fan, cooling the room a bit, against the evening sun. Liz and I found a sweet spot right around where I took this photo, where the breeze was great (the inside of the space was pretty hot).

Handmade benches.

Visitors milling about, talking to one another and inspecting the various stations.

Q&A session with Charles. Those of us visiting got to find out a bit more behind the project, how things would work, and had a chance to ask questions.

Comparing the model to a gym, Charles explained that there would be different membership levels. Lost Arts will be open six days a week, from 10AM – 10PM, and people can choose their level of access: weekends, nights and weekends, or full time.

What I found most interesting of all was that Charles was less interested in the actual equipment in the space. Now, don’t get me wrong – there were definitely things that were on the top of his list to purchase next. And he wanted feedback from members, as to what tools people felt they needed or wanted to work with.

But all of that was secondary to his main goal: to create a strong community where makers could learn from, and be inspired by, one another. The specific machines and tools were what got people in the door, but you could tell it was the people that excited Charles the most.

In a way, he struck me as a kind of chemist – wanting to combine as many diverse components as he could… just to see what might happen when everything got mixed together.

There was a lot of thought put into the space, with the layout reflecting different types of work. Tables and chairs, better for conversations or computer work were on one end of the space – next to the 3D printers that one would see, immediately on walking in the door.

But as you progressed further into the space, the workstations got “noisier” and “more dangerous.” The soldering and sewing stations eventually lead you into the woodworking area, where you’ll find the chop and table saws.

For as much thought that was put into things, Charles also responded to several questions with “I don’t know yet, but we’ll figure that out together.” His years of working on design and development projects online taught him that “the community tells you what they want.” And according to him you draw from that feedback, combining it with your own thoughts on where you want the project to go.

I’m incredibly tempted by this space, and the thought of joining an incredibly creative community. I’m not someone who makes a lot of physical things, but I’m intrigued at the possibility of my tech experience leaking over into some new area (3D printing, Arduino, electronics and fabrics).

A long while back, I remember talking with Justin about how we envied artists like Rob (who had their own studio space). While we were both tech guys, we liked the notion of having to physically go to a different space to create.

After seeing it in person, Lost Arts is a really amazing – and looks to become a really incredible workplace.

If the idea of learning something or creating something new excites you, or if you caught a glimpse of a machine, tool (or technology) you might want to explore… I definitely recommend you visit. You can book a tour on the Lost Arts web site, or better yet… just stop on in.

Lost Arts
909 West Bliss Street

Woodworking 101 at Rebuilding Exchange (1, 2, 3, 4)
Garden Box Project (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
Working Together

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Over the course of the evening, I kept spotting all these various connections to other really impressive Chicagoans. I saw some blueprints on a table that listed architecture firm Latent Design (run by Katherine Darnstadt, who I first met via the Chicago Awesome Foundation and her Mini Golf Course along Milwaukee Avenue).

    I also saw that Saya Hillman is going to hold an upcoming Idea Potluck event here.

    The doors haven’t even opened officially yet, and already there are lots of really amazing Chicago artists I admire involved with the place.

    avoision Reply

  2. I love how casual you are about mentioning the ‘gravity feed iron’. lol

    Liz Reply

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