Our History

Open Studio's original location at 310 Queen Street West, Toronto

Open Studio was established in August 1970 at 310 Queen Street West, Toronto, by artists Richard Sewell and Barbara Hall. Chicago artist, Don Holman, joined in 1971 to help set-up a lithography area for the space. An honorary Board of Directors made up of artist members and associates from the broader arts community helped incorporate Open Studio as a non-profit charity in December 1971, subsequently allowing the organization to gain charitable status in January 1972. From 1971 to 1996, Open Studio was located at 520 King Street West, Toronto, moving to a larger space at 468 King Street West in September 1996, with increased area for production facilities, exhibition spaces, and improved administrative capabilities. In January 2004, Open Studio relocated to our current home in 401 Richmond Street West, where we gained significant additional production space and established a much larger gallery area where we could promote and exhibit the work of our artists.

The Studio was founded as an ‘open’ space governed and supported by artist members who wanted to continue their printmaking practice in an inclusive, communal setting. Printmaking requires specialized equipment, space, and expertise to manage complex chemical processes that demand specific health and safety measures. Open Studio was founded as an ARC to fulfill these needs, providing a studio space where artists can work using a variety of print media techniques including intaglio, lithography, relief, screenprinting, and more, with expert help as required.

Today, Open Studio is the only artist-run printmaking centre in Toronto providing affordable, comprehensive access to printmaking facilities and related programs to local, national and international artists. Outside of full-time post-secondary programs, Open Studio is the only organization offering this range of facilities in Toronto for use by printmaking artists. We continue to serve artists through facility rental, residencies, scholarships/fellowships, printing services and art sales. Through our artistic programming and education services, we provide the public with opportunities to appreciate printmaking and its substance in the contemporary art world.

Our Archive

A little-known aspect of Open Studio is its vast print archive, made up of one edition of every print pulled at the studio between 1970 and 2018. This is the first ledger used to record the works taken into the archive, items 1-1108. More details about our January exhibition here. We are extremely excited to have received a Canadian Heritage Museums Assistance Program (MAP) grant to begin formally accessing and digitizing our archive in the coming months!

Funded by the Government of Canada.       

Open Studio Milestones

1970 – Open Studio Facility Rental & Archives founded.
1971 – Incorporation as a Non-Profit Charity.
1971 – Publishing & Collaborative Printing programs introduced.
1972 – Print Sales and Education programs initiated.
1981 – Nick Novak Scholarship for artist members launched.
1983 – Open Studio Gallery & Visiting Artist Residency program implemented.
1985 – 100 Prints & Artist Proof Sale and Open House annual fundraisers established.
1988 – Don Phillips Scholarship for recent graduates introduced.
1996 – Open Studio Print Sales Gallery launched & expansion of education program.
1999 – George Gilmour Members’ Gallery introduced.
2004 – Guest Renter Residency program created.
2008 – Annual Open Studio National Printmaking Awards established.
2010 – Printopolis International Symposium staged to celebrate the 40th Anniversary.
2012 – Hexagon Special Projects Fellowship for mid-career/senior artist members introduced.
2016 – Jeannie Thib Mentorship Residency for emerging artists created.
2016 – Inuit Artist Creative Residency program with DFA & Kinngait WBEC Studios launched.
2018 – Renovated the galleries, and introduced the Feature Wall exhibition area.
2018 – Redesigned the archive storage area and introduced the Open Studio Shop.
2018 – Upgraded health and safety equipment and became a barrier-free space.
2019 – Members’ Project Space (formerly the George Gilmour Gallery) established.
2020 – Relaunched the Publishing & Collaborative Printing programs.
2020 – Open Studio celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

Mission and Vision

Open Studio’s mission aims to enhance new and familiar audience’s experiences of the visual arts through contemporary print media. We contribute to the development of the arts by providing artists with opportunities to create and exhibit print work in a well-equipped, accessible and safe space. Open Studio is an artist-run centre that offers inclusive and affordable printmaking facilities, programs and services for artists from Toronto, across Canada and abroad. Open Studio’s priority is to provide support for artists in an open-minded and collaborative environment. We are dedicated to serving the public by providing opportunities to appreciate printmaking and its role in the contemporary art world.

Our goals and objectives are to:

  • Support local, national and international artists working in print media;
  • Provide excellent resources for print production for professional artists with comprehensive facilities, and the highest level of technical support;
  • Provide professional development opportunities for local, national and international artists through visiting artist residencies, scholarships and exhibitions;
  • Provide educational opportunities to the public through exhibitions, artist talks and hands-on courses and workshops taught by professional artists;
  • Preserve traditional printmaking techniques while contributing to innovation in printmaking and excellence in contemporary visual arts;
  • Work on behalf of artists by ensuring the payment of artist fees and acting as an advocate for artists’ rights;
  • Promote the work of living Canadian artists to the public through the print sales program;
  • Facilitate strategic partnerships and alliances between artists, arts organizations, educational institutions and funding agencies; and
  • Operate as a non-profit, charitable arts organization funded through self-generated income, cultural grants, foundations, corporate sponsorships and individual donors.