New York City // For Creatives: Workshops + Groups
When it comes to arts and culture, it’s no secret that New York City pulsates with creative energy, filled with start-ups, museums, art galleries, theaters, handmade fairs, and underground scenes. Now while it’s great to know that there are so many offerings around you, it can be a bit daunting to know which are the best that cater to us creative types so let me show you around. Why don’t we start with a guide for those wishing to enter the community, meet other creators, and be introduced to new hobbies and ideas? Below, a list of 16 NYC workshops, lectures, venues, and groups that’ll inspire, motivate, and stir up that artistic spirit within.
CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series that brings in interesting folks to talk on any number of topics for 20 minutes. What started here in New York City back in 2009 by Tina Roth Eisenberg, also known as the infamous Swissmiss, has now expanded to 23 other cities around the world. The best part? They’re all free and coffee is included! If you can’t attend the talks, head online to catch the videos.
The Brooklyn Kitchen is a kitchenware store that offers classes geared towards seasoned foodies and total newbies wanting to learn a few tricks like how to make seasonal dishes, start your own apartment herb garden, or how to wield a knife like a pro.
If you’re looking to learn something new, the 92nd Street Y has a nice list of workshops and creative programs. Likewise, the International Center of Photography, Cooper Union, and the School of Visual Arts offer continuing education courses that’ll have you collecting (or improving your current) artistic skills in a matter of weeks. I’ve taken drawing and language courses at the Cooper Union and a couple years ago, I took a greeting card design class at the SVA that introduced me to other designers while learning more about the stationery industry.
Speaking of paper goods, those interested in the art of letterpress can learn how to use a Vandercook proof press at The Arm Letterpress. They’ll teach you how to use metal and wood types, photopolymer plates, and hand-cut linoleum and wood blocks so you can just walk in and bang out your own projects in future visits.
Broke and lonely artists who are afraid of commitment can head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum has free drop-in sketching classes so you can pull from inspiring works of art and be in the company of other creative souls. No reservations required (you’ll just have to buy an entry into the museum) and the informal set-up lets you come and go as you please.
Brooklyn Brainery is an accessible crowd-sourced education center that welcomes locals with any quirky area of expertise to share their knowledge with others in the community. Are you an expert kite-maker, an awesome whittler, or skilled at macrame? Then teach the rest of us how to become one, too! Classes are intentionally cheap (and instructors are compensated) so you can easily learn and experiment with new hobbies and ideas.
The 3rd Ward serves as both a creative workspace and education center so you can either take a fun class or pop in to use their wood shop, metal shop, photo studios, jewelry studios, or their coworking space. Perfect for the freelancer or someone who’s run out of space in their tiny apartment.
Writers can look into Gotham Writers’ Workshop, which along with paid courses also offers free one-hour sessions at different bookshops. Or check out this laid-back writing group, which I’m a part of, that has us meeting in different member’s home throughout the city and provides a time and space to squeeze some writing into a busy schedule.
Everyone’s favorite handmade shopping network is based in Brooklyn and if you’ve yet to visit the Etsy Labs, you should! The staff regularly hosts crafty workshops and hands-on events where you’ll meet other creative folks in the community. Make is another wonderful studio that offers design, art, and craft classes for both children and adults.
Designers, entrepreneurs, and techies will want to look into General Assembly’s classes. You’ll learn business skills, techniques, and practices that’ll spark new ideas for and guide you on that start-up you’ve been dreaming about.
Brooklyn Creative is another art and photography education center that also collaborates with Rabbithole gallery to provide an underground art space, studio rentals, events, and monthly exhibitions.