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Creativita owners' flexibility and vision drive success

BYOB and DIY art studio expands offerings

February 24th, 2020 4:54 PM

Creativita owners Massimo and Jessica Luciano opened shop at 7512 Madison St. in 2014. Since then, they have expanded their offerings to include not just canvases but pottery, mosaic art, wineglass painting and more, plus special events like painting with a real-life sloth. | Alex Rogals, Staff Photographer

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By Maria Maxham

Creativita will celebrate its sixth anniversary in Forest Park in September, and the studio has become an integral part of Madison Street in its years in town. Under the ownership of Jessica and Massimo Luciano, the business has grown from a place to paint your own canvas to a thriving artistic hub that features paint-your-own pottery, mosaic art, silk scarf marbling and even painting with a sloth. A real sloth.

It all began when Jessica Luciano, who has a bachelor's degree in art and painting and a master's degree in business, was working in the corporate world. She went to a social painting event with a friend and thought, "I can totally do this."

"This" meant hosting painting parties, and the more she thought about it, the more she was positive it was not only something she was capable of doing, but a way to get back to her artistic roots. So she opened Creativita, though she kept her day job at first.

"In the beginning, we only offered canvas painting," said Luciano. "Right away, there was interest from kids and families, and I realized it was an opportunity to provide something to children who weren't exposed to art and painting on a regular basis."

Her own kids, she said, grew up with art, and some schools have robust art classes and departments. But not all children have access to painting and drawing.

"We started bringing painting into schools," said Luciano. "We offered fundraising opportunities, which also function as community building activities. And we worked on painting projects in underserved schools."

From the beginning, Luciano said she started thinking about adding pottery painting to her offerings. But it took four years for her to bring that to Creativita.

"It's a big undertaking," said Luciano. It's not just buying pottery and paint and letting people go wild. In fact, the "paints" used on the pottery is actually not paint at all: it's glaze, which, when heated at a very high temperature, almost turns to glass, said Luciano.

And using quality glaze results in a better finished product, said Luciano, who orders her glaze supplies from Italy.

"Lots can go wrong," she said. "There might be something wrong with the pottery itself. Maybe the batch won't fire right or the glaze won't adhere. A tiny fissure you can't see might ruin the finished product." The most difficult part of it is that you don't know until you fire it, she added.

"That's the big difference between working on a canvas and working with pottery," said Luciano. "With canvas, you can see right away how something looks. With the pottery, you don't know what the finished product will be like until it's been fired."

But the pottery has been edging in on popularity over canvas, said Luciano. She attributes this to the fact that people can go to a craft store and buy a canvas and paints and do it at home, and to the wide availability of painting parties.

"A lot of people have done canvas painting already," said Luciano. "But most people don't have access to a kiln for firing pottery."

As for the painting parties and events, Luciano said they've evolved over the years.

"We used to walk participants through one particular design, but people wanted a variety," she said. "We've shifted to individual projects and more tableside teaching." And although there are standard paintings Luciano and her staff present regularly – the four main genres are cityscape, landscape, wine and fashion – if someone holding a painting party sends a design ahead of time, the Creativita staff can create a painting based on it.

For drop-in times, during which anyone can just walk in and create art, Creativita has the following available: wineglass painting, canvasses, woodboard art, mosaic creation, pottery painting and the newest offering, clay handprints.

Special classes include fused glass, silk scarf making, hot wax painting, window painting and stenciling on woodboard.

She runs a spring break camp and summer camp, perfect for kids who want to explore art, including clay, canvas, mosaics and pottery.

And for special events? Not only has Creativita hosted neon black-light painting and drop-off events just for kids, but recently they hosted Steve the Sloth. Participants painted Steve and got to interact with him. And Luciano's working on bringing in baby goats so participants can paint with them too.

Her favorite thing about running the business is seeing people have a chance to get a break from their worries.

"Working on art doesn't take away problems," she said, "but it allows someone to stop thinking about them for a few hours. And that's pretty powerful."

Learn more at creativitafp.com.

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