Highlighting new and unique studio spaces, I met up with James Black, creator of 3rd Eye Studios located in Bloomfield, CT. Started in 2019, 3rd Eye Studios was created as a way to give artists the opportunity and space to create comfortably while learning how to effectively market themselves and their artwork.
Written & Photographed by
Lifting up the garage door to enter 3rd Eye Studios, you’re immediately surrounded by colorful artwork as this garage-turned-studio is filled with paintings, sketches, poetry, and art supplies. “The space came intuitively because I was here in the summer, I knew I needed a space to create, and I realized that the garage was closed off. I thought, that’s perfect! It must have been preserved for this specific purpose; it felt ideal,” James Black says about the location of the studio space for 3rd Eye Studios.
Originally from Jamaica, James Black moved to Connecticut in 2015, and when asked why he simply states, “Destiny invited me.” The concept for 3rd Eye Studios came to Black during the summer of 2019. The mission: to create a space and platform for creatives that’ll allow them to create comfortably and learn how to market themselves efficiently. He connected with Trasloof, a current member of 3rd Eye Studios, who helped him to create the right atmosphere in the studio space.
“The people who you’re around can support you, and as they grow to know you, they can know when you’re not at your best.”
Each wall in the space is covered with bright and bold images, ranging from abstract paintings to realistic portraits to well-known cartoon characters. Mixed in with the paintings are snippets of poetry and phrases meant to encourage and inspire, such as “Shine Bright” and “All is impermanent.” One wall in particular showcases a large abstract painting, featuring the word “LOVE!” alongside the word “ELEVATE” in smaller letters.
A framed painting can also be found stuck to the floor in the middle of the studio space, which at the time wasn’t intentional, but can now be seen as a happy accident. “In creating this, I was experimenting with epoxy so that the glass would be almost shatterproof and the canvas would be stuck to the glass. But, there was some space between the frame and the glass so the epoxy leaked out and it got stuck to the floor,” Black laughs as he retells the story. “And I was like, hell yeah, that’s dope,” he continues, “It’s staying right there. I’m not even going to try and move it.”
One of Black’s main goals when it came to 3rd Eye Studios was to use it as a way to help support artists emotionally. “That’s one thing that many of the great artists struggled with, mental health issues, and they turn to hard drugs or suicide as a result,” he explains. He was motivated to create a space for people to collaborate on projects where the end-goal can help keep the artists going through any low times they may have. This kind of connection can allow artists to create a sort of family with others who understand their craft and the drawbacks of being an artist. “The people who you’re around can support you, and as they grow to know you, they can know when you’re not at your best. They can offer a nudge, a helping hand, a kind word to support you in those low points because family isn’t always there, even though they should be,” Black states. He understands that it’s a crushing experience to create something from your heart only to have it be rejected or not well received. “It’s a hard hit to take,” he says, “Especially for people who are empaths, and many artists are.”
3rd Eye Studios currently has 7 members consisting of abstract artists, photographers, writers, and musicians. The members are Sehrish Khan, a visual artist; Trasloof, an abstract artist; Greg Aimie, a collage artist; Sarah Rose, a singer, songwriter, musician, community builder, and activist; Kelly O’Brien, a model, artist, climate change activist, photographer, and author; Sain’t Phifer, an abstract artist and idea guru; and James Black, an author, poet, artist, semi-pro soccer player, musician, and public speaker. Because of his biblical background, Black hopes to have 12 members in total. “You know, the idea of 12 Disciples,” he explains. “Plus, I learned that 12 means completion, so I just thought, beautiful. It’s perfect.” When it comes to the type of artists Black is looking for, it ultimately comes down to who you are as a person, rather than the kind of art you create.
As for the future of 3rd Eye Studios, Black states that he will be taking a keen look at its business model. “There must be some measure of profitability as well as creativity,” he elaborates. He expects the next year or so to be filled with changes until the model is perfected. “Much like any other business, it’s that duality that we’re navigating,” he continues. “How do you take care of the person as well as the business?”