What may be the “most unique studio in New York” (and the only one to continually throw a party featuring a live llama) has left its longtime home on Williamsburg’s North 3rd Street and Kent Avenue. As of June 1, ACME Studio has moved its operations entirely to its Bushwick warehouse location on Meserole Street, as well as consolidated its business to focus on props.
“Our business has evolved as the neighborhood has,” says Brian Colgan, ACME’s studio director. “In the beginning, we would say yes to anything. Parties here, photoshoots, all kinds of stuff.” Founded by set designer Shawn Patrick Anderson in 2010, ACME has been host to a bevy of weird and wonderful Brooklyn goings-on; Colgan says in addition to their standard (and occasionally star-studded) professional work of photoshoots and prop rentals the space has had weddings, memorials, parties, taxidermy workshops, lectures, and screenings, to name just a few.
“It’s been the great joy of my life so far to be able to facilitate a space that can be available to that,” Colgan says.
ACME notably provided a space for creative ventures that had a built-in personality. Rather than the standard white box space that began and ended as a blank slate, it was “a prop house you could shoot in.”
“People have always said for years, Does anyone live here? I used to take that offensively, but actually over time I’ve realized that’s actually a huge compliment,” Colgan says. “It’s like a lived-in, homey, welcoming space. A lot of other photo studios in the city, you wouldn’t think anyone lived here.”
The Meserole Street space they’re moving to isn’t brand new; ACME had been operating out of both that space and their North 3rd one, with the former serving as more of a prop warehouse and the latter as a photo studio. Now, they’ll be ending the studio rental component of their business and expanding their Bushwick space over the summer, citing a changing photo industry combined with a booming prop business.
In addition to making it easier to confer with colleagues (“There’s only so much you can communicate through Slack”), having only one space and one focus has made organizing their vast collection of stuff a bit more feasible. “A popular group text among all of us [was], ‘Where is this?’ We all unsubscribed from that group chat, we know where everything is.”
I ask Colgan if he’s worried the L train shutdown will impact their business at all. “In talking to owners around here, no one knows,” he says. “There’s two general theories of what will happen. One is that business is gonna suffer because people won’t be able to get here. The other, and maybe this is wishful thinking, is people won’t be able to leave, so there’ll be more loyalty as far as people who live locally.” He also notes that more people live and work in Brooklyn nowadays, even in historically more Manhattan-based industries like theirs.
Though ACME’s more mature Bushwick self won’t be having quite the same degree of parties and revelry, some lively events will remain. Their annual llama party will continue (though, Colgan clarified, the notorious llama doesn’t actually live there), as well as a holiday event where they invite local families to participate in a photoshoot at a “really over-the-top crazy set” that serves as a more unique alternative to the typical pictures with Santa.
“The other night at the [closing] party, people were like, This is the end of an era. Also, a lot of people were like, I never come to this area anymore, it doesn’t really serve me,” Colgan says, noting the studio’s Bushwick neighbors (a metal shop, a lighting design and fabrication company) have more of a community-oriented feel than those now on North 3rd (J.Crew, the Apple Store).
“It’s been really cool to be able to offer a space where people can play out their fantasies in. I will miss that, but moving forward we can carry that spirit.”
ACME is located at 350 D Meserole Street in Bushwick.