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Arts + Culture

Take a Look Inside Workshop Studios

Founded by Calgary artists Becky McMaster and Andrew Frosst, Workshop Studios is an artist’s dream, the newest tenant in a fabulous old industrial building, tucked away in Bonnybrook. Discerning shoppers and lovers of beautiful things will recognize the address — it’s shared by Paul Hardy and Uniquities, and these new neighbors are fitting in just fine. We spoke with Becky and Andrew to find out more.

What inspired you to start Workshop Studios?

A. We’ve both been involved in the arts in Calgary for a long time, and we’ve seen how little attainable, flexible studio space is available for artists. We wanted to change that while creating a place that we’d like to work. Unlike other studios, Workshop is an open concept, so the artists have a real sense of community. You can talk to each other over the half-walls. It’s been amazing to see the friendships that have already developed here.

Sisters Alexa and Maggie Murray have filled the shelves of their studio with works in progress.

What kinds of artists are working here?

We have such a huge variety! The studio spaces are all really different, some are tiny and some are big, but each one seems to fit someone. We have a glass artist who just needed one of our micro studios, we have painters who are loving the larger spaces with huge windows. There are several ceramic artists, furniture designers and woodworkers, illustrators, photographers, and graphic designers.

Daniel Labutes stops to chat with Heather Dunn in her studio. The open concept is a critical part of the dynamic at Workshop, because artists aren’t working alone in individual closed spaces, there’s a greater sense of community developing here.

Aside from the artists who are renting the studio spaces in the building, who else can access the facilities?

We offer memberships for artists who might want to use the ceramics facilities, and once it’s up and running, the woodshop too. Qualified members get the same unrestricted 24-hour access that our studio tenants get. There are also some great ceramic artists who are teaching pottery classes that anyone can sign up for, from six-week wheel-throwing or hand-building classes, to our upcoming Date Night “Throw like Swayze & Moore” classes (one night, featuring wine and DJ).

There’s no doubting their construction chops; Becky and Andrew have transformed a space that literally looked like a dungeon (no exaggeration – we’ve seen pictures) into this incredible ceramics studio. As in, they built it. By hand. Since January.

You’ve also got one studio set aside for an artist-in-residence program, how did that come about?

One of our biggest supporters and business mentor, Ben Falconer (owner of Phoenix Comics), wanted to sponsor a space for a local artist. We were blown away by the variety, thoughtfulness and quality of the submissions that we received in response to our call. We’re so glad to be able to offer the space and time for the selected artists to work, and to have them be part of our community.

Illustrator (and studio tenant) Kelsey Fraser created the Workshop Studio logo, and provided the wayfinding signs on the doors to the woodshop and ceramics area.

What’s next for Workshop?

We’re working hard on getting the woodshop up and running, and are looking at repaving the big yard out back so we can add some more kilns, and more importantly a pizza oven! (everyone already congregates in the kitchen, so…) We’ll be adding more classes too — one of our woodworking artists Brendan Fraser is planning an IKEA-hack-type of class, where you’ll make an Ikea style piece of furniture using refined materials and techniques.

Find out more about Workshop, register for classes, and apply for memberships at

Paint samples share a corner with books and plants in Heather Dunn’s studio.

Natural light pours into all the studios, thanks to huge original windows and low dividing walls.

(r) An exquisite hand-made desk adorns woodworking artist Brendan Fraser’s office space; (l) One of Jesse Stillwell’s mesmerizing pieces hangs in their loft studio.

Photography and words by Julya Hajnoczky