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February 19, 2024

The Library Behind-the-Scenes: Ignite Studio

What do librarians and library workers do all day? It’s not just sitting behind a desk reading a book! Get to know how the public library works behind-the-scenes! This year, we’ll highlight different departments and services the Hamilton East Public Library offers to give you an inside glimpse into how the library serves our community.

Today, Sydney B., Arts Education Coordinator, will answer some questions about how Ignite Studio, the makerspace at Fishers Library, helps you to discover, collaborate, and experiment in creative ways.

6 people holding a paintbrush trophy. Caption reads Nickelplate Arts Ignite Studio Arts Partner of the Year.

Ignite Studio won Nickel Plate Arts’ Art Partners of the Year Award in 2023.

Q: How did Ignite Studio get started?

A: Ignite opened in July 2018 with the intention to be a space for creative people to do creative things! The Studio is open and accessible to people of all skill levels and ages, because we know that everyone has the capacity to be an artist and a maker. We provide equipment for all of your big “maker” ideas and materials for those who are interested in exploring and learning something new. Since we opened over five years ago, we have improved our available equipment by adding additional Cricuts, sublimation equipment, and upgrading our 3D printers, and our kit library is always getting new activities added for people to work on while they’re here!

Q: Tell us about a typical day in your position as Arts Education Coordinator?

A: My days are usually split between helping patrons in the space and doing behind-the-scenes work to pull off all of the great programming we do here! I can spend a morning checking kits out to patrons, tidying those up for the next person after them, teaching one-on-one certification courses called Book-an-Experts, or helping a patron troubleshoot a particularly difficult issue with a piece of equipment like our laser engraver in the Fab Lab or a camera in the A/V Studio. Then, I would spend the other half of the day planning classes to teach, like Homeschool Field Trips for kids or Sustainable Screen Printing for adults, or meeting with local arts organizations to plan collaborative events and exhibits. I might even be organizing entries to our latest group art show – entry is open to all!

Framed art hanging on an illuminated wall labeled Through Your Lens Exhibit.

Ignite regularly features shows and exhibits displaying art submitted by the community.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: My favorite part of the job is helping people have that “A-ha!” moment! It could be anything from figuring out that tricky origami step to finding out about a new art form from our Maker-in-Residence. There’s nothing more satisfying than learning something new, and we are all life-long learners here at Ignite. My background is in the fine arts, where I specialized in sculpture. Although, after working here for over four years and helping so many people with so many different projects, I think I am more of a jack-of-all-trades! I have had countless “A-ha!” moments myself here.

Q: What do people not realize they can do at Ignite Studio?

A: People are always overwhelmed at the sheer range of what is available to do at Ignite! Our Digital Media Labs (DMLs) are available to use for any kind of graphic design or digital work and have been used by sound designers to edit cable TV shows. Small business owners and portfolio-building artists can also use our DMLs to do product photography or vlogs. Our A/V Studio also always surprises people with the versatility of the space – people record podcasts, music and music videos, interviews, commercials, and even exercise videos in there! And of course, the fact that it is 100% free and accessible to all is always a pleasant shock that many people tell us that they are grateful for.

Display shelves with art books and sample art pieces.

Get inspiration from books and completed art projects when you visit Ignite Studio.

Q: What kinds of people could you meet at Ignite Studio?

A: We see people of all ages and skill levels in Ignite Studio every day, which is exactly what we’re here for! If you visit Ignite, you might run into one of our “super-users”, people who have taken advantage of all we have to offer regularly. You might also see many people getting tours for their first ever visit and even get to ask for one from a staff member for yourself! Ignite served 32,749 patrons in 2023, our busiest year yet. These are people who used Ignite for a variety of reasons – to repair a sweater at our monthly Mending Night, to take an interesting class from our Maker-in-Residence, or to just spread out as an artist who needs space. In January, we had 219 people check out our Kid’s Clay Handbuilding Kits with air dry clay – that’s nearly 8 people a day for one activity alone, EVERY day of the month!

Q: What goes into planning programming and resources offered at Ignite?

A: We really try to bring an elevated art experience to patrons without the premium cost – our classes and workshops are always free. This could include bringing our own expertise to programs, learning new art media ourselves so that we are confident enough to teach others, or hiring professional artists who have unique class ideas. We also work with local arts organizations like Noblesville Creates or the Fishers Arts Council to support our community’s artists.

Adults during an art class making prints.

Guests practice making art prints at an Ignite Studio class.

Q: Where can people learn more about how to get involved with Ignite Studio?

A: Check out our beautiful brand-new website! My favorite part about the new site is the interactive studio tour. There, you can also find our full list of upcoming classes and events, find blogs written by our staff members on unique ways to use kits and equipment, and even make your own reservations to use some of the equipment! If you feel overwhelmed by our many options, you could start by coming to Creative Happy Hour, a monthly artist meet-up where you can meet fellow makers. If that’s not your jam, you could also take the time to start with one of our drop-in activities, which might even inspire you to go bigger. And, make sure to keep an eye out for our Maker-in-Residence events, where you can meet a professional artist and get encouragement and advice from them in a collaborative environment!

Thank you, Sydney! Stay tuned to the HEPL blog each month to learn more about the library behind-the-scenes!