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When you can’t work from home, Part 8

Jul 12, 20044 mins

Kansas City “studio” geared toward graphic artists

Work clubs are popping up all over – not just in obvious spots like New York and San Francisco – but in smaller cities such as Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City’s new work club, Open Studio, is the vision of graphic designer and full-time corporate teleworker Bobby Kellogg. Like many workspace entrepreneurs, Kellogg wanted to create the perfect workspace for himself and share it with his professional community – mainly graphic designers, architects and photographers.

“Working out of the house makes it really hard to get the creative drive going,” he says. “So many people I talked to felt the same way – freelancers were almost willing to give up their freedom to spend time with other creatives, to be able to bounce ideas off each other. I wanted a cool space where I could work around other people and still have the flexibility and freedom that working remotely, or for myself, offered.”

When Kellogg, his wife and two partners found the perfect space in the newly “buzzing” downtown, they made their move. The 5,000-foot loft space has big windows, high ceilings, wood floors and is built out with a T-1 connection, phone system, kitchen and bathrooms. The four-story building is owned by a team of architects who take up the top two floors.

Open Studio, which opened July 1, has 25 workstations divided by three-quarter-and-half walls, a conference room, reception area and lounge. Kellogg plans to fill 20 of the stations with full-time workers and reserve the remaining five for temporary use. There’s also one locking office.

“We have a lot of film production people who come into town to shoot commercials for a couple of days and they’d rather rent here than work out of a hotel room,” Kellogg says.

An Open Studio conference roomKellogg and his friends designed the desks, and used Plexiglas and various fabrics to create the right balance of privacy and structure. “Being a designer, I don’t like being confined to a cube. The atmosphere has to be open and free-flowing,” he says.

Open Studio’s monthly rates reflect the midwest market. On the low end, $100 gets you a physical address, mailbox, voicemail and use of the conference room. For $535, you also get a dedicated workstation, phone and file cabinet. The private office rents for $850. There are community computers – Mac and PC, as well as a scanning station and an HDTV projector in the conference room.

A library will be stocked with art and design books and annuals, as well as industry publications like Communication Arts, How, and Print magazine. A paper supplier will provide samples and books on printing, prepress and finishing techniques.

Besides freelancers, Kellogg hopes to attract smaller Kansas City companies, particularly boutique ad agencies, which have begun hiring again. “Rather than come up with a ton of cash to lease bigger space, they can use us for their overflow,” he says.

An Open Space workstationUnlike others getting into this market, Kellogg doesn’t expect to retire from Open Studio profits. “This is something I can do while working full time for a company I’ve been with for a long time,” he says.

As finishing touches are put on the studio, Kellogg’s thinking up ways to build community: “Maybe we’ll put together a bowling league, things to get people feeling like they’re involved with something, not stranded at home or isolated from everybody else who works for a company.”

He also plans to bring in business professionals to consult with members on legal and tax issues, health insurance and retirement planning. How do members of the freelancer community typically handle health insurance?

“Most don’t have any,” he says.