There’s something irresistible about the energy + color that Fort Makers infuses into everything that they create.

This Brooklyn-based art collective’s work spans from huge public art installations to textiles, including these dip-dyed and hand-block printed tea towels they created for our LOCAL collection.

Did we mention their studio space is totally amazing?

See for yourself, plus hear what Naomi Clark, Nana Spears, and Noah Spencer of Fort Makers have to say about collaboration, advice for aspiring artists, and why fruit is so inspiring.

Fort Makers + west elm LOCAL

Fort Makers + west elm LOCAL

Fort Makers + west elm LOCAL

We’d love to know more about your studio! It looks like a pretty amazing place.

Nana: We have two different studios, a wood shop and a textile studio, that are a few blocks away from each other. Our studios are very close to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the area feels like a center for artists and young businesses. The area is thriving, and it makes me feel like we’re part of a makers movement. It’s exciting.

Noah: The Fort Makers wood shop is on the top floor of a warehouse building overlooking the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the East River. The office has an amazing view and a fireplace to keep us toasty in the winter. We share the shop with two other companies so it’s always bustling with projects and activity. One of our favorite aspects of the shop is the roof which provides awesome, 360 degree views of Brooklyn and Manhattan. It’s a great place to have a beer after a long day in the shop!

Fort Makers + west elm LOCAL

Besides having multiple spaces, what’s the creative process like, designing as a group?

Nana: We all work with each other to brainstorm and to come up with the best ideas for what we should make. Then we also have meetings to critique each other’s work. It’s hard to tell someone that you disagree with their ideas or that you think something could be done better, but we’ve gotten pretty good at doing this. After working with each other now for six or seven years, we’ve learned to be very direct and efficient in communicating with each other and solving creative problems.

Fort Makers + west elm LOCAL

Is there a recent project or installation that stands-out as a personal favorite?

Naomi: One of my favorite installations was made during our show ‘Action Painting’ at the 1708 Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. It was a Stick Painting made of 80 wooden square dowels that were painted on three sides. When the dowels were placed side by side, the full painting could be seen. The dowels functioned individually as separate, bright objects that could be arranged on the ground to make different compositions. I like that these pieces could be arranged in multiple ways. I love the look of a segmented painting.

Fort Makers + west elm LOCAL

What’s your advice for the aspiring artist who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Nana: Ask for help and share your ideas with people. Act, act, act! You know what Woody Allen said: “80% of life is showing up.”

Fort Makers + west elm LOCAL

Fort Makers + west elm LOCAL

What has been inspiring you lately?

Naomi: Fruit inspires me. Nature blows my mind. The colors and the texture and then the taste! I think it got me through this cruel, cruel winter. It’s like eating a little piece of the sun.

Noah: The people of New York provide a flow of shape-shifting muses for us to ponder and gain inspiration from. We recently attended the Armory Art Fair, and of course saw some fantastic art, but the people who were representing the art world kept pulling our eyes off the art and into the industry and the humanity of the art-exchange. Best place for inspiration? Go to a gallery opening and soak it up.

Nana: We’re working with a new artist, Christian Joy, and her work is really inspiring me. She’s best know for the costumes she makes for Karen O, which are incredible, but she’s done so much more than this. Stay tuned for a Fort Makers/ Christian Joy collaboration coming soon!

Fort Makers + west elm LOCAL

Click here to shop our LOCAL collection. And if you know of a maker that west elm should consider for one of our local in-store assortments, please let us know. Email your recommendations to:

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The Kentucky Gent

March 17, 2015

Couldn’t agree more – asking for help and giving help is 100% the key to success when trying to make it.

Josh – The Kentucky Gent

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March 20, 2015

[…] 1. Fort Makers, a Brooklyn-based art collective, chats and answers some questions about their studio on Front + Main. […]

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