“This place makes me really happy,” Becky Richards says on a recent shopping trip to InsideOut Studio.
Richards has become a familiar face at the studio and is among its most loyal, long-time supporters. She and her husband have been buying art from InsideOut long before its storefront opened on High Street in Downtown Hamilton.
InsideOut Studio is a social enterprise, jointly operated by Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati and the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities, that provides opportunities for artists with disabilities to produce, exhibit, and receive income from their art.
Richard recalls buying her first piece of InsideOut artwork at a display at IceFest. She and her husband spotted a small ceramic figurine they just had to have. “We fell in love when be bought it, and that was it,” Richards says with a smile.
Since then, their collection has grown. Richards says every room has a piece from InsideOut, and her yard is decorated, too.
“My entire outside – I live in the country and there’s a lot of it – but it’s full of garden things,” Richards says. “I’ve been giving my family some of my garden things, so they’re now in several counties.”
InsideOut has become Richards’ go-to destination for gifts, with some traveling as far away as Pittsburgh. “I love shopping for gifts. It’s always been my thing. I always find something for everybody. It’s so unique and very affordable.”
Store manager Monique Runzer says Richards brings a lot of visibility to the artists and the shop. “She brings in people from outside our general area and exposes them to InsideOut Studio. The excitement the artists get when she comes in, she’s formed friendships with them, too,” Runzer says.
In addition to loyal shoppers, Runzer says philanthropy plays a major role in the experiences available to the nearly 40 in-house artists. While store sales help cover the cost of most supplies and equipment, philanthropy elevates the experience by helping to secure adaptive art equipment specifically designed for people with disabilities.
Artists can also benefit from more trips out into the community. “They all come from different backgrounds. Some might live with parents, some might live in group homes in different settings,” Runzer says.
“They might not get out a lot to parks, museums, aquariums, or zoos. The money that we raise, we plan trips to take them out. That helps inspire them, get them out of their normal world, and it helps with their artwork, too, because it sparks new ideas.”
InsideOut is also sparking a new idea for Hamilton. It will be holding its first-ever major event in September 2019 called SHIFT. Runzer has secured a secret location in Downtown Hamilton for an electronic music festival that will be infused with live art demonstrations.
“The meaning behind SHIFT is a couple different things. The first is shifting mindsets around what people with disabilities can do,” Runzer says. “The second part of what SHIFT means is the event is going to shift in tone and style throughout the night.”
“The night will start off a little more serene with calmer music and lighting styles. It’s designed that way for people who have sensory sensitivities. The intensity will shift up twice as the evening progresses.
Back in the shop, Richards has selected her newest treasures after browsing through the colorful spring collection. “I keep telling my friends that they need to come here, and they’ll be as happy as I am.”
Runzer says she and the artists are always ready to welcome new shoppers and art lovers. “You don’t have to be intimidated to come in. Just come in for inspiration. If it’s a dreary day, come hang out. Talk with the artists. We love when the public comes in.”
InsideOut Studio is located at 140 High Street in Hamilton, Ohio. The studio is open from 10am – 6 pm, Monday through Friday, and from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturdays.
InsideOut features a wide selection of media including fused glass, clay, paintings, and jewelry.
All pieces can be customized. Artists are available for commissioned pieces and corporate art installations.
More from Mo –
“When you hear the word ‘commissioned,’ a lot of people think ‘expensive.’ What’s cool about our place is if you see something on the shelf, let’s say it’s a $22 nightlight and it has a black cat on it, but you want a white cat on it, or you don’t even want a cat on it – you want something completely different – we can make you that item however you want, and it’s the same price.
We do a lot of commissioned paintings where people will bring in pillow shams, or a picture of their carpet or furniture, and they’ll want something painted for a specific room. We can do that, too, in multiple price ranges.”