create, mingle, inspire: the lab at velocity art and design with artist matte stephens


I had the good fortune to meet Paola Thomas of MirrorMirror over the weekend, and subsequently was invited to attend The Lab, a brand-new design community get-together she helped put together with John Tusher, owner of Velocity Art and Design. I expected it to be interesting, but found it to be nothing short of inspiring.

The Lab was inspired by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge, whose Biz Ladies Meetups were “the catalyst for realizing how necessary creative gatherings such as The Lab are to the vitality of our design community,” says Tusher. He envisions the monthly events as places where everyone who is creative, from interior designers to collage artists to cheesemakers, can meet, share ideas, socialize, and find new outlets for their art and new inspirations for their businesses.

John Tusher introduces Matte Stephens to the crowd at The Lab, held at the Velocity Art and Design store in Seattle’s South Lake Union.

Featured artist Matte Stephens spoke to the crowd about his secret to artistic success: “I was gonna make this work or die. I didn’t give myself an option to quit.”

Click the link for more photos, inspiration, and information on attending the next event. –Mary T.

Stephens’ sheer determination has led to both work and friendships. He first contacted Tusher in 2001, only to have his art rejected. After Stephens worked for years to finesse his style (“I wanted my art to be design,” he says) Velocity began carrying his work, and Tusher became both friend and mentor. Such determination has also played out on a personal scale: getting up the nerve to make a phone call to one of his idols led to Stephens’ friendship with iconic designer Irving Harper.

Stephens, who mixes his own colors, told the crowd, “Red and black mixed together make the weirdest brown in the world. And I like it.”

The next event is scheduled for May 28. To learn more or to suggest ideas for future events, visit Velocity Art and Design online. Sign up to be notified of future events here.

Following a Q&A session with Stephens, the energetic Lab crowd lingered past the official end time of 8 p.m. Here Amanda Kindregan, whose art Stephens collects, laughs with his wife Vivienne.


Megan of Not Martha, Kristen Rask of Plush You! and Schmancy fame, and painter and collage artist Anna Parker.


Paola Thomas with printmaker Bradford aka “Uncle Beefy.

From our partners

Oh dear. Next month I’m going to have to get creative with some extensive plastic surgery… that is so my wrong side!

Thanks to everyone for coming. It was great fun and I hope it is the start of something really special..

Thank you so much for the great post and to everyone for attending The Lab last night. I had such a great time meeting everyone that attended. What a great group of interesting, creative-minded folks. We hope that you all will come to The Lab on May 28th: Blogging in Seattle. Should be a very interesting panel discussion. Thanks again!

oops- I meant to say red and black made a nice brown:) hehe

Mary T

I wonder if I wrote it down wrong?! I’ll change your quote — wouldn’t want any rogue painters out there getting *really* weird browns.

I made the mistake:) I knew it as soon as I said it LOL! It was so nice meeting you! Great blog!!

Great to meet everyone last night and to share ideas and stories with such fantastic creative types! I expect the Lab will take shape into a fantastic venue for artists, designers and other creative folks to connect and contemplate the trends and happenings.

Megan B

Wow! Looks like I missed a cool event! Think we’ll be at the one on the 28th!!

do i need to move to seattle? i’m craving this lab series! i’m jealous. me want.

so fun to see your pictures of people + artwork i’ve admired online for so long. the lab will surely be a catalyst

That would have been amazing to attend!!

Mary T

I think the main thing is, these labs can happen in any city! Why not start one of your own? I’d love to hear about it if you do!

so i’m doing this thing… « Straight from the Container

[…] More deets. (I’m definitely too old to be saying “deets”.) And check out my little write-up of the previous Lab, with the super-illustrious Matte Stephens, here. […]

These social events are a great way to give back to the design community. Way to go Velocity

The Lab

[…] go and read Mary T’s (who actually had her camera with her at the beginning of the evening) great write-up over on Shelterrific, Tim Gunn’s alter ego Uncle Beefy has also written a splendid […]