Meet The Popular Workshop, SF's Newest Design Space and Gallery


Two weeks ago, a sprawling, multi-room space called The Popular Workshop officially debuted on the city's art scene with its first-ever show, Degausser by Hunter Longe, and was packed to the gills with camera-wielding, curious spectators. TPW has lofty ideals that take it far beyond just being a gallery; the massive Tendernob space is also a design studio, like an incubator or laboratory for graphic and web designers and artists to gather, create and push SF's art world to new levels.

We talked with Nate Hooper, the creative director of The Popular Workshop for his take on the new space's mission and future.

What's kinds of artists/shows/art will TPW showcase? What's TPW's aesthetic?
Our gallery is less about a embracing a singular medium or style of image, but rather artists who are ambitiously and thoughtfully redefining our relationship with images. As our surrounding visual culture has ballooned, inundating us with visual stimulus every moment of every day, the value of images has changed, in turn redefining the practice of image making. We want to show artists who are actively questioning our relationship with images, who offer new perspectives on how and what we are looking at, and play with our notions of authorship, genre, style, technique, mediums, etc.

Hunter Longe, our first artist showing at TPW, explores ideas of erasure, "unauthorized collaboration", deconstructing our value of images, of visual memories and the creation of images through the destruction of others. We couldn't have asked for a better artist to start with.

Explain the name.
We never wanted to be just a service based design studio, we have always wanted to work as collaborators, as people that clients come to knowing they will get a unique perspective. The idea of a "workshop" seemed very appropriate; we wanted it to be more like a visual laboratory than just a studio that does work within a certain discipline. The name is a literal translation from a situationist movement / student riots that happened in Paris in May 1968, L'atelier Populaire. What happened in Paris is too complicated to sum up in a sentence or two, but it had a very big influence in our development and vision. The name is sort of obscured in the translation, however, people have really responded to it. Our place has flourished into a workshop with ideas and lots of creative folks flowing in and out on a daily basis. No riots yet though.

What artists or shows do you have in the pipeline that you're especially looking forward to?
We can't get too specific yet, but be on look out for some adventurous shows in the near future.

Will you ever have any music/sound installations or bands play at any future openings? The place looks like it has awesome acoustics.
Bands, seem inevitable, we will have to open those flood gates soon, hopefully our neighbors won't hate us too much.

Explain the design studio component of the space. How does it work?
The Popular Workshop is a creative space with an focus on Art Direction, Design, Web and Curation. We aspire to create a space where creative concepts and solutions can be born, refined and produced. Currently we are working with such a diverse scope of clients, from corporations to artists, start ups to fashion houses. The art/artists from the gallery are also informing our design, and visa versa; it is a complex blend but it seems to be working. Going forward, aside from outputting client work, we hope to create and promote self-initiated print, apparel and art projects.

Myself, Andy Hawgood and Lance Geng are the three partners of The Popular Workshop. We all grew up in San Francisco and have been friends since high school. Although TPW is a new business, its been 15 years in the making.

The Popular Workshop Gallery is located at 1173 Sutter Street, and is open Tues-Sat Noon-6 pm and The Popular Workshop Studio is open Monday - Friday 10AM-6PM. Feel free to check them out!

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