With the rise of freelance in the workforce, has come a need for a new kind of workspace; a workspace that operates and can look like your typical office environment, but within which everyone works independently of one another. These shared spaces are part of a new phenomenon called coworking. The idea behind it is simple; Independent professionals need a place to work. Now freelance professionals can work in a home office, rent office space, or become a member of a communal working space – aka the coworking studio.
Coworking studios often offer many of the amenities you’d expect from a typical office environment: a desk to work on, a shared kitchen and bathroom, access to a printer and conference room, and access to the internet. What they also offer is a chance to work around like-minded individuals, fostering growth and creativity by encouraging networking and collaboration between members. It’s a chance to work away from the distractions that working at home can entail, and simply put – a way to be around people again. Some also offer education classes and dedicated desks, as well as mail service and locker rental.
Over the last five years, many coworking studios have formed throughout New York City. But none have focused on bringing animators, digital artists, and writers into the same room. Enter The Productive. The Productive was formed to fix that missing link, and bring the coworking concept to the animation industry. I sat down with Susan Godfrey, founder of The Productive, to gain a better understanding of what the facility offers the animation community.
What is The Productive? The Productive is a membership-based co-working studio, located on the fifth floor of 40 West 38th street, dedicated to providing an affordable and energetic workspace for animators or any kind of digital artists, writers and publishing professionals.
Why does the animation community need a coworking studio? Animation can be a very isolating profession. You often spend hours alone in your room working on a project, and turning down social outings with friends. Also as an animator you need a pretty steady hustle: you have to stay on top of your skills, you need a fresh reel, you need a good website, and then, almost in contrast to the dedication and isolation, you also need to get out there network and connect. The Productive offers the animation community a place to go for where people “get” all that. Where you’re challenged by the industry of the people around you to take yourself seriously, put your time in, and up your game.
How did the idea for the Productive come to be? After I graduated from school, I interned, eventually got work, got promotions, felt valued and liked and really thought I was on my way in my new “animation career”. Then along came my first period of layoffs. I interviewed around, had a lot of promising leads but when nothing was materializing I thought to stay productive. “I’ll work on my reel! Start up my own projects!” but though I had the time, the software, and the inclination I could never get anything going. I was frustrated and got reminiscent about the digi-comp lab back at SVA where as thesis film students we were all so dedicated to our projects. We would work round the clock on our films and we did so for months on end. I missed the camaraderie, the commiserating -the solidarity… Then I was at a dinner party, uncomfortably explaining my unemployment for the billionth time, venting about my lack of productivity and pining for some sort of studio to do animation in when a friend told me about a sort of place where writers in the city go to write called Paragraph. My friend actually knew one of the founders of Paragraph and suggested I meet her. I went to Paragraph, toured the place, interviewed the owner and became convinced coworking could work for the animation industry as well.
Tell us a bit about yourself: What is your background in the industry? Well I’m an SVA (School of Visual Arts) grad with a degree in animation. I’ve mostly worked in animation production at companies like Animation Collective, Curious, and Brand New School. I’ve also helped to produce independent animated films.
What do you hope to accomplish with the Productive? You can’t be a part of this industry and not feel/hear that the people within are disillusioned and have duress as to their careers and their futures. Looking around though, there are more and more examples of artists succeeding as individuals outside of the traditional “staff job” situation. I really believe this is the time and we are the people that with our ideas and art can make our own opportunities. I’m hoping The Productive can be a catalyst for getting everyone to stop complaining and start working on the great projects we all dreamed of being a part of when we got our degrees or otherwise joined this industry. That and I’m hoping to get down to work on the cache of projects and film ideas that I’ve been nurturing along in my brains all these years.
Where is the Productive located? What’s the area like? The Productive is located in Midtown at 40 West 38th Street, on the 5th Floor. I picked this area in an effort to have maximum accessibility from as many parts of town as possible. The studio is centrally located among the major transportation hubs of Port Authority, Grand Central, and Penn Station and is also pretty handy to most subway routes. There are restaurants, places for expensive coffee and two dollar/dollar pizza (none for me -thanks) in the area and we’re two blocks south of Bryant Park which is a great place for lunch or a break –especially in the summer.
Tell us about the studio itself: What’s the layout like? What amenities or services do you offer? What are your hours? The Productive is open every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year but access depends on your membership level. We offer workstations with chairs, desks, and power strips, and Ethernet ports, as well as a conference room, printer, wireless Internet, kitchenette, and locker rental. You can bring your own laptop but we also offer computer stations which feature Adobe Creative Suite (5), Maya and 3D Studio Max. We have dual monitor set-ups or Cintiqs. Computer using members have roaming profiles, enabling them to take their preferences, desktop setup and shortcut keys with them from station to station. We currently only have PCs but I’m hoping to have at least a few MACs in before this summer.
How many people does the studio sit comfortably? We have 30 tables.
What is the membership pricing? The Productive has three levels of membership – a Part-Time membership for evening and weekend access, a Full-Time membership for 24/7 access, and a Computer-Use membership for those who wish to use our computer stations and programs. All membership pricing can be found here: http://theproductivenyc.com/about/. A 10% discount on monthly fees is given to validated ASIFA-East and Graphic Artist Guild members. Free trial days available through our friends at Loosecubes.
How does one apply for membership? You can apply online (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGl6N0Y4RGN0UjdXeWd4T1NZWTVOWXc6MQ) with two references. You can also call us at 917-668-8574 to arrange a tour of the facilities.
What kind of security do you offer? Each member is given a unique code, which allows him or her access to the studio based on his or her membership level. We have security cameras on every door and locker rentals for equipment storage.
What kinds of events will the studio hold? We plan to hold networking events as well as education classes. I’m hoping to work with animation organizations, GAG, and WGA to hold events or co-sponsor events. So far, NY Creative meetup: http://on.fb.me/IqgCd3 will hold events here once a month.
Where can we go to learn more about the studio? You can visit http://theproductivenyc.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can also be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/anothergain.