Next week, Ink’d Art Studio will open its Scudder Avenue door to curious neighbors for the first time, to see a space Northport resident Clark Ruggeri has been picturing for years.
While the idea of a community space in which he could practice, teach and share his passion has manifested in Clark’s mind many times over the past decade, it wasn’t until he saw the open, airy loft (and its 1,000 square feet of possibility) at 19 Scudder Avenue that everything sort of… clicked.
As the owner of Ink’d, Clark’s mission is to offer a safe space for people of all ages and skill levels to gather, brought together by a shared love of visual arts. Clark himself has a bachelor’s degree from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, with a concentration in cartooning and illustration. His favorite medium is pen and ink, focusing on unique – and sometimes bizarre – subject matter, including creatures and wildlife. From 2009 until 2019, Clark worked as a high school art teacher at his alma mater in New Rochelle, where he taught classes on a range of topics, including portfolio development, architecture, cartooning and still life. Now, he’s extending his reach, targeting kids, teens and adults with a passion for visual arts, and offering them a space unlike any other in town.
Clark and his wife Chrissy have been contemplating the idea of a creative community space since they began dating, dreaming of a place that could house Clark’s passion for art in an inviting and collaborative environment. When the loft on Scudder, right above Sand City’s brewing facility, became available, they jumped at the opportunity.
“There's something about this space specifically that I feel would work better than almost any other space,” Clark said from the studio he was busily readying for unveiling this weekend. “It speaks for itself. It’s open, it’s airy, it has high ceilings, plenty of windows, plenty of natural light. This is what people want to be surrounded by when they come into a creative environment, for a class or to collaborate, because they feel more comfortable. People can spread out, people can have space, but still be part of the same environment at the same time.”
“Ink’d is a place – and this is why this is a kind of dream concept and dream space for me – where people will choose to be,” he continued. “This is a space that kids and older people will want to come to, and for that reason they’re going to be motivated as to why they're here and what they want to put their time and effort into.”
At the time of the Journal’s visit, Clark was assembling six 8-foot long tables to use as workspaces. Four full-size drafting tables for more advanced students lined a wall. A television for streaming visuals was already set up, with a projector and screen to help facilitate step-by-step instructions during certain classes in the works.
Classes start this October, a month that provided Clark with an easy and obvious theme to open up with: goblins, ghosts and ghouls, famous monsters and ghastly tales. Classes are available as one-offs or month-long courses for ages 5-18. A “Freestyle Friday” is open to ages 5-12 and 13 and older.
This, though, said Clark, is just the beginning.
Recurring courses, such as cartooning, still life and comic book making, will be opening up soon. Other possible offerings include a clay course, and a focus on anatomy and other concepts. Drop-in sessions, birthday parties and game nights are in the planning stages as well.
For many courses, students will rely heavily on pen and ink (India ink, a dark and beautiful medium, bold black on top of pure whites, said Clark) and ink wash (using brushes with ink diluted with water), and segway into other mediums like watercolors. Each class and course will be tailored for the group’s age range and abilities; Clark, a father of two young children, said he used his five-year-old daughter as a benchmark for the youngest classes and is confident he can connect with a class of children as well as he connects with adults.
As an instructor, Clark will emphasize not just technique and subject matter, but “also how we’re looking at the art we create here.” The work that is created ultimately is the students, he said – and the results should show that in individual expression. For example, two kids taking the same portrait course could produce work “and one may look like an abstract Picasso and the other a surrealist kind of bizarro illustration done by Dali,” he said. “Two way different worlds with two way different impacts, speaking to each kid’s individuality.”
In addition to all the instruction he plans on giving, Clark sees Ink’d as a place for older kids to come for one-on-one portfolio development, a space they can both work on their own, and ask for advice.
“My hope is that kids who are more motivated to develop their own body of work want to come and spend time in a space like this, get away from the noise at home, and have a place where they can sit, relax, have space to breathe in a cool environment, be able to work on their own, and have guidance if they need it,” he said.
He envisions the space as somewhere for kids to go, “a controlled, safe environment that they want to be in, that’s enjoyable,” he said. He pictures kids sitting in the studio’s lounge, grabbing a few comics or graphic novels, or some books off the bookshelf, listening to cool music, with their friends.
Also on the table is an adult Arts and Crafts (as in craft beer) class, where attendees can BYOB, have a can or a bottle share, and be creative in each other’s company, as well an “art revolver”-like class in which up to six passionate, motivated artists partake in a revolver-style of collaboration. Each artist chooses a subject matter or theme to start his or her drawing with, and for a set amount of time, and without seeing what other artists are working on, begins creating. When an alarm sounds, artists rotate canvases, and begin drawing based on the theme of the previous artist. The final product, at the end of multiple rounds, is a truly collaborative piece of artwork combining multiple styles and forms of expression.
“Ultimately this is an art studio, but by no means is it simply an art studio,” Clark said. “My hope is that I have people coming in here that are as motivated and excited about this space as I am. This is something that I’m passionate about. As much as this is a business, it’s also something I want to see in this town, and even if it wasn’t mine, I’d want to see it succeed in this town.”
Ink’d Art Studio is located at 19 Scudder Avenue in Northport Village. The Ink’d open house will take place Friday, September 24 from 2-6pm and Saturday, September 25 from 2-4pm. For more information, visit www.inkdartstudio.com.