A hidden gem: the K.A. Artist Shop

The K.A. Artist Shop may not be easy to see with its entrance tucked away in downtown Athens next to Pita Pit. Filled with anything an artist could need from pens and pencils to sketch books and canvases, the shop also holds space for classes, camps and clubs. 

Kristen MacCarthy, a local artist, opened up the small art store in 2014. She didn’t originally intend to open a shop, but that all changed when she found a space to rent at 127 N Jackson Street. 

“I just kind of fell in love with the weird upstairs downtown space and knew I wanted to make something of it,” MacCarthy said. 

She was trying to find a studio to make artwork for her Etsy shop, but once she found the space she decided to start selling art supplies. 

The business grew on its own starting with art supplies, then with prints and eventually with hosting classes. At the beginning, only a select group of other local artists were excited about the shop.

“It’s kind of funny, I didn’t hang a sign for three or four years. We were just known by word of mouth,” MacCarthy said. 

As the business grew steadily, people started asking about the staff teaching art classes. One of the original teachers, Hope Hilton, suggested starting art clubs for kids and teens on Friday nights. The main focus of the clubs is making art trading cards (ATCs) which are exactly what they sound like: small pieces of art traded and collected amongst the members.

Amelie Huff, 14, is a patron of the store and has been participating in the art club for three years. They first started attending after receiving a pass for 10 classes from their godmother.  

“ATCs are really fun to make because you get to look at different types of art that other people do. It’s almost like seeing into someone’s brain,” Huff said. 

ATC’s are a way to expand artistic style while also connecting with people. 

“Just getting to make art and hanging out with people, you really get to know different people and see where their art comes from,” Huff said. “Towards the end of the semester, everyone gets really comfortable with each other, it kind of turns into a family.” 

The ATC art clubs are every Friday, 4:30-6 p.m. for kids 12 and under and 6:30-8 p.m. for teens 13 and older. MacCarthy is happy that her shop can provide the club’s experience  for young artists. 

“It’s absolutely essential for young people to have a safe place where they can be both thoughtful and playful,” MacCarthy said.  

Maggie Gillan

Freshman Maggie Gillan is a Staff Writer for her first year with BluePrints Magazine. They have aspirations to become an author because of the relationship between her love of writing and her vast imagination. In her free time, she is heavily involved in the arts including ballet and painting. They hope to explore different styles of writing in their time with journalism as she collaborates with the supportive staff.

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