Austin’s print house and DIY space Raw Paw cross breeds creativity Raw Paw started in the style of many DIY groups—with a group of friends who wanted to be creative, and found that doing this in tandem spurred their efforts.
The Austin space has become a nexus of support for artists making music, t-shirts, posters, books, and so forth, with provisions of a workspace, gallery, and arts shop. It’s nicknamed the “art factory.”
“Whenever a lot of artists and ideas come together and mix, it’s sort of energetic. There’s a pull and a motivation to respond and further your work,” says Chris Dock, lead organizer of the collective, which consists of a small group of diehards, all of whom are paid by Raw Paw. “The central pursuit now is trying to balance business and art,” says Dock.
The group emerged out of college, when, Dock says, they were all trying to find their way as artists. Yet despite Austin’s reputation as a music capital, Dock explains, it lacks an infrastructure of support to level up emerging artists.
“In that search to improve our craft and find sustainability as artists,” he says, “we have to stand together and pool our resources.”
While all of the members of the collective have individual pursuits (Dock has a science fiction brand he’s writing), they’ve found that becoming a platform for production, including selling merchandise, has been profitable enough to keep the space going. “The scene here is really united because there’s a fresh perspective on using the Internet to become successful artists,” Dock adds. “We’ve become a high-quality production house and print shop for a lot of Austin creatives.”
The result, Dock says, is heterogeneity, as artists from different media and backgrounds intersect. “I think what DIY communities or little packs of rogue thinkers can do is reimagine and introduce new ideas into the realm of possibility,” Dock says. “I grew up in the suburbs, and I think I saw a culture that’s just really cloned. All the businesses are chains. I really believe in this concept of variance in the gene pool, so to speak, and the idea that if you were to clone something, it never gets better.”
Variance and creativity merge with organized production at Raw Paw, but the space has not been without serious challenges. Early this year, it was attacked by an arsonist—burned to the ground with significant equipment loss.
“The community really came together,” says Dock. Raw Paw received money from organizers and participants who helped them crowdfund, and the group also received a grant from Meow Wolf’s 2017 DIY Fund. The collective stands strong. “I feel like Raw Paw is a chosen family,” says Dock. “There’s a closeness and depth of pursuit that creates deep relationships.”
Raw Paw has since regrouped in a new location, which they’re working to get up to code. Dock and the rest of the crew there are steeped in preparations for their grand reopening on September 15, when they launch a new store and throw a gallery opening.
Following on the heels of that event is Raw Paw’s annual “Ditch the Fest” on October 6, which provides a very un-cloned alternative during Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Raw Paw was a recipient of Meow Wolf’s 2017 DIY Fund.