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Thomas shifts focus of Railyard District studio

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – Local entrepreneur and photographer Audrey Thomas said the Greater Green Bay area has never been in short supply of talent, but spaces and opportunities to put that creativity into action, collaborate with others and share their workspace with the public, she said, is a different story.

“There are many people in the community currently working to provide these opportunities with their own unique approaches, all with a collective mission to provide artists with access and options at affordable rates,” she said.

Audrey Thomas

Thomas can now add her recently-refocused space – Evolve: Rental Space for Creatives – located in the Railyard District, as one of them.

Known to many throughout the community for her pictures, Thomas Photography opened one of the area’s only exclusive dog photography studios, a focus shift from her classic photography, just last year.

“I think creative people are always subconsciously looking for a challenge and ways to grow,” Thomas said. “So eventually, when I felt I had photographed people in all the ways I could, I was excited to switch things up and exclusively photograph dogs. That led me to doing some of the most fun, challenging and fulfilling work thus far.”

Nevertheless, after photographing about 150 dogs in the studio, she said she felt another itch for change and looked at things from a different angle.

“I had a beautiful studio that I was shooting in, but I was doing all of my backend work at home, and I knew I could better utilize the space’s potential to serve more people,” Thomas said. “It seemed obvious to open up my space to other creatives who didn’t necessarily want to sign their own lease somewhere, or might not operate as a business, but still need a place to be creative. That’s how Evolve was born.”

She said Evolve is a creative rental space open for hourly rentals Monday-Friday.

“Creatives can utilize the private space independently, with peers or with clients,” Thomas said. “One of Evolve’s missions is to showcase these creatives by hosting interactive public events on select weekends. Our first event is a sold-out tintype photography pop up with Silvergraphic, where you can come experience what it was like to get your photo taken in 1850. We are working on organizing everything from artist workshops to an unplugged concert series. You can keep up to date on our events calendar on our website, and if you’re a creative who would like to host something, we would love to talk.”

Thomas said a recent review left by an Evolve renter captures perfectly what she hopes the space would do for people.

“I’m seriously so grateful to be able to rent such an awesome space at an affordable price,” Emily Andrade, a makeup artist/boudoir photographer with Esteem Makeup and Photography, said. “I can’t even explain it to you. It is everything I could have dreamed of, honestly. Going from $700 in a space with no appealing features or natural light to this, is beyond what I could have asked for. Now I feel like I can finally start to get the ball rolling on this part of my career.”

Evolve is also set to host Yoga with Puppies – an hour-long, all-levels friendly session, followed by a snuggle-filled happy hour with the adoptable four-legged friends from Lucky 7 Dog Rescue, along with a complimentary tea and beverage bar.

Downtown fit

Thomas said Evolve’s location in the heart of downtown Green Bay, in a historic building with distinctive architectural features and tons of natural light, is much of what makes the space unique.

“People are so intrigued and always have so many questions when they enter the space for the first time, and I love that because I think people often think they know all there is to know or have seen all there is to see about Green Bay,” she said. “I’m definitely thankful to Base Companies, On Broadway Inc, city officials and all of the public support that led to restoring these buildings rather than allowing the land to be razed for a Walmart back in 2014. It’s exciting to see all of the businesses that have made themselves at home here, and I’m very proud to be in their company here in the Railyard.”

The future

Thomas said her hope for Evolve is that it can give creatives a new level of excitement for their craft and what they can do with it.

“When I was 22 and working out of my bedroom office, I would have been ecstatic to have access to a place like this,” she said. “I also hope it helps develop people’s perception of support for artists of all kinds in Green Bay. You don’t have to go to a neighboring city to find opportunity, rather, there are now multiple options right here at home.”

Thomas said she isn’t taking wedding pictures anymore, but continues to photograph dogs on a case-by-case basis, as well as sessions with her regular humans.

For more information on Evolve: Rental Space for Creatives, CLICK HERE.

Thomas said the Evolve space is lightly furnished for daily use.

“We also have tables and chairs on hand for events,” she said. “A full list of amenities can be found on the ‘Rent’ page on our website.”

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