Tell us some history about yourself and introduce the other individuals involved in The Popular Workshop.
NH: The Popular Workshop is: Nate Hooper, Andy Hawgood, and Lance Geng. We all grew up in San Francisco and have been friends for well over a decade. Andy and I basically split the creative direction role and Lance is our technical wizard.
How did the popular workshop materialize into what is it today?
NH: Essentially TPW is the result of all of us being fairly unsatisfied with where we were creatively and professionally a year or so ago. We were fortunate enough to find an amazing space and since then, its has basically been a lot of “hail mary”s and elbow grease to get to where we are today.
The Popular Workshop functions both as a creative design agency and a visual art space. Can explain how you began this dual endeavor and the mission of these creative identities?
AH: I think we had a very basic starting mantra, where I thought “Design is an answer, and Art is a question”, but as we maneuver between the two these days that line is so blurred that the distinction is almost irrelevant. Really, we want to create and be involved with endeavors that matter and have resonance, and while agency can do that at times, the gallery allowed a much more experimental platform for us.
What kind of projects does your creative agency work on?
NH: Our output is pretty eclectic these days. A westernwear lookbook, a bar identity, an e-commerce site for a trendy apothocary, an album cover photo shoot and layout, some apparel design, boot packaging design, skate decks, have all been recent projects.
AH: We try and stay busy and are looking for more interesting clients to collaborate with. We cover a lot of bases, everything from branding, photo, apparel to digital and eCommerce strategies.
Can you talk a little about your duel-position as a designer and gallerist. There must be a unique dynamic to playing both roles at the same time.
AH: It can be head spinning at times, but it certainly can require a lot of the same skills. I think design thinking lends itself very well to curatorial thinking and to running the space.
NH: I think the skills that come with being a designer help with a certain methodology to see things all the way through, but in the gallery context.
Your space is very impressive. Can you talk a little about the galleries layout and some of the changes you will be making in the near future?
NH: First off we were so fortunate to have found such a great space. It’s huge. Essentially our space is divided into two large sections. The front is our gallery space and the back is the creative studio. In addition we’ve just finished up a renovation to add a small retail space in the back of the gallery.
AH: As we’ve been installing one of our most ambitious shows, our contractor was simultaneously doing the buildout. It has been insane but fun. All the energy and mess has been sort of a buzz. Look for our store to be ready in the very beginning of the new year.
How would you describe the programming at the popular workshop? How is the program curated?
AH: It is interesting to try and describe our genre, but for all intents and purposes I would describe us as a contemporary art gallery. The program is really curated by our collective instincts, what feels important and relevant to show in San Francisco.
NH: I would say by and large our programming comes from the intersection of our collective aesthetics. The process over time has become fairly intuitive. There are certainly some interesting underlying themes starting to emerge!
How has your experiences been working with guest curators in your gallery?
NH: The process of working with guest curators has been really successful so far. On a pragmatic level, having another person driving a show while still collaborating directly with us creatively, has really helped us be able to juggle responsibilities of the studio and the gallery simultaneously. It’s also a really great way to familiarize ourselves and our audience to a larger community of really amazing artists.
AH: I feel like this process of collaboration has been one of the most important parts of our first year, and that we have learned so much from everyone who has passed through our space. Special thanks to Hunter Longe, the Chisholm family, Jonathan Runcio and our latest guest curator Jesse Lee Stout.
What kind of projects have you been able to do in conjunction with both the gallery and creative agency?
AH: We try and do a special little project with each exhibition. We have done some short films about the artists with Cole Schreiber of Sunday Paper [http://www.sunday-paper.com/http://www.sunday-paper.com/]. We have also done special posters for most of our shows, and we are really going to try and push for self-initated publishing projects in 2012.
You have a very interesting show coming up. Can you tell us about what will be in the gallery this month?
NH: Our next show “Remains In The End Times” (which opens Friday Dec. 2) is by far our most ambitious show to date. The lineup includes some really amazing artists such as Yoshi Sodeoka and Rosa Menkman. We’re really excited about this one.
AH: This show was guest curated by Jesse Lee Stout who runs noise label Table of Contents. You have to come to see it, but their is plenty of sound, massive projections; it is a very experiential show. As Jesse puts it, a “new psychedelia”, it is wild.
What other projects can we look foward to at The Popular Workshop gallery and creative agency in the next upcoming months.
NH: So far our programming in 2012 is looking like its going to be very international. We’ve got shows featuring artists from Spain, Argentina, Sweden and Australia all in the works.
AH: Retail will also be part of our strategy, so please come by, support and check out some of the unique products and books we will be selling. In addition, we’re hoping to push some good design work out, and hopefully continue to work with engaged clients who are looking for new and contemporary design ideas.