As one of the many intersections of American culture, Atlanta attracts an interesting and diverse group of individuals, unlike many other places.
The magnitude of artistic energy in the metro area is often staggering. Thanks to the media boom in Atlanta through film, television and the cultural spotlight placed on the city, there are endless outlets for creative folks to realize their visions.
Often, though, minority groups and populations aren’t given the same or appropriate spotlight to showcase their work, talents, and ideas. This is a global issue that will take plenty of work to address, but Atlanta has always been up for the challenge.
One local initiative to promote inclusivity is WUSSY Mag, a collective of LGBTQ artists and writers who, along with their digital articles and editorials, publish a quarterly magazine and a bi-weekly publication.
Their latest venture, though, opens up their multimedia workspaces to the public with the opening of BENT Studios in West Downtown Atlanta. Described as “an Atlanta-based gallery, photo studio, workshop and DIY think space,” BENT essentially functions as whatever its occupants want it to be.
“WUSSY always felt sort of like a clubhouse project, and now we just needed an actual clubhouse,” said Editor-in-Chief Jon Dean about his and his team’s latest venture.
At BENT you’ll find a full photography and recording studio with professional equipment. Plus, after a successful IndieGoGo campaign, BENT has its sights set on expanding into a space for public events such as monthly gallery shows and workshops. Nevertheless, BENT and WUSSY come from humble means.
“BENT Studios sprung out of our need for designated office and studio space to continue the magazine. Our vision of starting a bi-weekly printed rag could no longer be completed from our bedrooms,” said Dean.
“When we found this awesome warehouse space, we knew there was so much potential to offer this resource to others in the queer and artistic communities of Atlanta,” he continued. “The landscape of the city is changing rapidly, and affordable, creative DIY spaces in the city are dwindling.”
For other entrepreneurs and creative thinkers, Dean has sound advice: “Be prepared to hear ‘no’ more than ‘yes’. Ignore the negativity and ultimately trust your own instincts. People will always want to keep their finger in the pot, but don’t expect them to come through when you really need it. As long as you have a team of people you trust, your vision will shine through.”
Atlanta is a hotbed for stories like those of Dean and WUSSY as a whole. Young creatives, especially marginalized ones, need a space to think, create and express themselves in a professional setting, and BENT is committed to creating that environment.
All that’s needed is a group of friends, an idea, and a commitment to success.
Lead photo, L-R: Blake England, Matt Jones, Zaida J. Sanchez, Jon Dean and Ryder McEntyre of WUSSY Mag and BENT Studios (Photo courtesy of WUSSY Mag)