Jules Hinmon never goes a day without making his signature cardboard cutouts at Make Studio in Hampden. He takes a piece of cardboard, cuts out a character’s general shape, then fills in the details with marker and paint. He makes other work on paper, too, using watercolor, marker, or “anything to get the creative juices flowing,” he says, but these characters are his bread and butter. Varying in size and appealing to an array of buyers, Hinmon’s gestural interpretations of Shrek, the Powerpuff Girls, Charlie Brown, Sonic the Hedgehog, and others of his own creation are highly sellable.

On a late-winter morning, Hinmon made about five within an hour. “Fulfilled,” he says when asked how he feels making these cutouts, putting the finishing touches on a Pokemon. “It’s a new form of art, you know, I always like to try new things—they’re my toys of sorts.”

At Make Studio, artists are free to experiment as much as they want while honing their practice. For ten years, Make Studio has carved out studio space for artists with developmental disabilities. The strength of that artwork has helped Make Studio grow over the last decade, and the artists’ ever-increasing visibility (from Make’s partnerships with other galleries, shops, hotels, and festivals) has allowed them to sell more work—hundreds over the last decade, totaling about $120,000 and counting.

Dontavius Woody, Two Kittens Around, 2019, mixed media.

This open but focused environment offers something for everyone. The viewer, encountering work by Make Studio artists, can riffle through a rack of drawings and cycle through imagery that feels alternately serious, comical, revelatory, playful, joyful, inscrutable. According to Cathy Goucher, one of the studio’s three co-founders, artists are drawn to this place by a natural understanding of what their artwork is doing for them—it feels good to create, others appreciate it, “and they have life and a presence in whatever medium they’re using.” Sharing their work also offers the artists “a sense of bigger identity and impact” within their communities, Goucher adds. Make Studio helps strengthen these opportunities for connection.

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