Opening Up

Forging Creativity

artisan forge offers flexible space to create

Gigi Roelant, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

HAMMER TIME. Greg Johnson demonstrates his metalworking at the new Artisan Forge Studios in Eau Claire.
HAMMER TIME. Greg Johnson demonstrates his metalworking at the new Artisan Forge Studios in Eau Claire.

There’s a lot to love about the Chippewa Valley. I could ramble on for a good long while, but I believe it boils down to one singular truth: We love our home because of just how much love it has to give. We have a reverence for community and it shows. You can see it in the music scene and in the arts, in how we support new businesses and work to revitalize old ones. Greg Johnson, owner of the new Artisan Forge Studios, understands this truth; in fact, it’s the inspiration behind his new venture. With experience built upon 25 years of working on homes, Johnson was tired of the forced competitive nature of the business. “Every person has something to learn from someone else. If only we viewed each other as opportunities instead of as threats,” he says. It was in this frustration that his dream for a collaborative haven for artisans was born.

“Working from home might be free, but there’s no network of support, no chance of outside inspiration.” – Greg Johnson, owner of Artisan Forge Studios, on the advantages of a collaborative work environment

For a complex that was just purchased in August, Artisan Forge Studios, 1107 W. Clairemont Ave., has already attracted a surprising number of local artisans as tenants. Though perhaps it’s less surprising when you hear the vision Johnson and facility director Jackie Boos have for the space. They want Artisan Forge Studios to become a “one-stop shop for creative development,” Boos says. The hope is that Artisan Forge Studios will become a veritable farmer’s market for local artisans, with galleries showing both their tenants’ work and that of artists in the larger community.

As Artisan Forge Studios builds upon its impressive 20,000-square-foot complex, which formerly housed a trucking company, it also builds its community. It has six standard studios open for new tenants and a large industrial space available for flexible renting. Be it for a week, a day, or just a few hours, Artisan Forge Studios wants to make allowances for the whimsy of creative inspiration, and the complex will be open to tenants at all hours for this reason. The complex will serve as a place for artisans of all walks of life to work and find inspiration and growth through collaboration. “Working from home might be free,” Johnson acknowledges, “but there’s no network of support, no chance of outside inspiration.”

Speaking with Johnson, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in his enthusiasm. Plans for the future are broken into phases, always moving forward, and most importantly, never leaving anyone behind. There is no end, no destination to fully satiate. The goal is to keep learning and growing and to keep a full event calendar to provide a desirable destination for lovers of all things creative. There is talk of getting involved in local schools, of offering tools and resources to students and of providing a place to practice their craft. And while Johnson understands the importance of having a passion and drive for the arts, having supplemented his income for years off of his custom metalworking, he wants to give local artists a more solid grounding. The cliché of the starving artist doesn’t have to be a reality, and Johnson hopes to eventually start classes to teach local artists to deal with insurance and taxes for self employment and all those other less glamorous skills required to become financially successful.

You don’t have to wait until the official grand opening in the spring to see what Artisan Forge Studios has to offer. The first event of the season is coming up soon. Come down Dec. 4 and 5 for the Winter Artisan Market. The event will run from 4-9pm on Dec. 4 and from 10am-7pm on Dec. 5. Enjoy free coffee and other refreshments while you take in the creative talents of our Chippewa Valley artists. There will also be a Davis Dogs food truck on site. Artisan Forge Studios is looking forward to becoming a part of the Chippewa Valley community and to showing just how much love they too have to share with us all.

For more information, visit or check out their Facebook page: