Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to become part of the Adventure Orange Artist Cooperative.
Some of you might even remember my super-old video interview with Owner Anne Brown 4 years ago, when I was a bright eyed and bushy-tailed college art student.
How time passes quickly in the state of constant motion!
Since then, Adventure Orange has evolved from a small artist studio/storefront cooperative in East Moline, to a handmade and adorable collaborative boutique located in the Village of East Davenport. Within roughly the last year, Adventure Orange began a collaboration with Mint Green Boutique, making the the dream of a move to a larger and more user-friendly space a current reality.
The New World Encyclopedia defines a Cooperative Business as follows:
A cooperative business, or co-op business, uses an integrated business structure with members of the co-op sharing decision-making authority, profits, and liability for debts. Co-ops normally fall into three types and include consumer co-ops, producer co-ops, and worker-owned companies.
The cooperative model of business is something that’s becoming a more common practice. Combined resources make larger goals more easy to obtain, so why not apply this to small business and entrepreneurship? We’re seeing all sorts of interesting takes on a sharing economy at this moment in time. In it’s beginning, there was Craigslist, CouchSurfer, and Freecycle. Since then, a wider variety of services has been developed: from ridesharing services like Uber and Zipcar, to home and lodging shared-services like AirBnB. You can gain skills in sustainable and permaculture practices in exchange for work via any worldwide WWOOF
organization (My friend participated in this in New Zealand for a year, check out her blog if you’re interested.) You can take graduate level courses for free through MIT. Locally, a similar model of a shared economic practice in full swing is The QC Co-Lab, which allows you to use a variety of tools, resources, and equipment by paying a monthly membership fee.
This brings up an important shift in focus in the way we’re choosing to operate within our economy. Having access to materials, resources, opportunities, and ideas, is now becoming far more important and readily available than actually owning them.
In Adventure Orange’s case, each artist’s contribution to the business is one day of work, and in exchange, the artist gets to sell their wares, have access to studio and classroom space, as well as share expenses, resources, and networks. This model of business makes a commercial retail space completely financially feasible, with wiggle room to spare. Being someone that’s already tried a semi-traditional model of business and discovered that it was not in fact for me, as well as someone who is trying to transition away from my day job, this is a perfect fit.
I’ve had intentions on my mind lately. Not one specific intention, but rather the power of stating your intentions, and how this affects the energy that plays throughout your life. But to say it in a nutshell, I’ve stated my intentions. And they’re having a funny way about making themselves apparent within my life.
One specific intention was concerned with letting go of my day job. I’ve struggled with this one for some time. Why? Because I simply cannot afford to live without my day job. I’ve worked since I was 12, been able to financially take care of everything from braces in high school, to car loans, to bogus medical bills, to private college tuition that I’ll be paying on for the rest of my life, to nice furniture and phones and computer and camera equipment and…fuck! I’m getting stressed out just thinking about it.
But, I looked over my freelance income for the past year and discovered to my surprise- that I could have totally taken that extra day or two or three off from waiting tables. Not only could I have done that, but I turned down several pretty great opportunities, as well as dropped the ball on some serious deadlines, because I chose not to. I chose to work my service job instead, because I was too scared of being broke. After some serious thought, it eventually boiled down to this:
Fuck this shit. I want to create, and not feel bad about it. I want time. I’m taking a day off, and turning it into productive studio time.
I don’t care what happens if i decide to do this without thinking of the possible outcomes. (Even though I do.)
The thought of the unknown scares the shit out of me. (Fuck it.)
I immediately emailed several contacts that I have relationships with from working within the community. I upped my game in my Etsy Store.
I gave up my Monday day shift with a tiny pit in my stomach, but I just felt the distinct urge to ignore every misgiving, and simply do it. And by the next Monday, details had been worked out, meetings had been made, and I was working at Adventure Orange. By the following week, Anne and I were hashing out workshop logistics. Shortly after that, I got an email asking when I could return back to the Figge Art Museum for figure drawing facilitation. Things have been working out a lot like this lately. It’s really reminded me of the importance of not only living a meaningful life, but creating it. We have the power to do that.
So what has it been like, working at an artist cooperative?
Pretty fantastic, if I must say so myself. If you’re in the area, stop in. Take a peek at the photos below. Otherwise stay tuned to Studio 2’s Etsy shop, my small business and personal Instagram feed, or Studio 2 on BookFace to see whats going on in creative-crafty-land. Stay tuned to the blog for all of it’s blogishness.
Want to dive deeper into some of the topics touched upon in this article? Add these books to your personal library: