Meet Conscious Creatives, a DIY Space for Artistic Expression

After the Ghost Ship fire, in which 36 people were killed in the DIY space in Oakland, and the recent closing of Rhinoceropolis, DIY spaces in Denver are more important than ever.

Co-created by Denver natives Jon Shockness and Akiala I, Conscious Creatives is part artist collective, part safe space for artistic expression. Meetings are held every Thursday at 3704 Downing Street and typically last from noon to 11 p.m. There is no set itinerary, and attendees (anyone is invited to join) discuss their creative projects and create art and music together. A movie usually starts playing around 8 p.m.

Akiala, who is interested in fashion, explains that the idea for Conscious Creatives stemmed from connections she made with musicians after she graduated from high school. She heard them requesting more support from their peers and expressing a desire to meet like-minded people. She started hosting brunches and occasional gatherings, which eventually became Conscious Creatives.

“I believe that everyone needs to know that they are supported,” Akiala says. “A lot of times, being young and an artist, there are so many challenges and insecurities you face that make you feel unsupported. A lot of times it seems like our society doesn’t value art and tells artists that they are lazy and need to get a job. But what a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that art is a full-time job, art is therapy, art is a movement, art is life support to some artists.”

For Shockness, who is a musician, Conscious Creatives is a place where people can come to be themselves, work on whatever projects they have going on, and share their perspectives.

“Conscious Creatives is a global brand, but we’re a local-minded, community-based organization,” Shockness says. “Meaning we want to be able to have a mission and a movement that impacts the world, but it starts from home. And more than that, it starts within.”

For Akiala, it’s all about making choices that feel authentic and creating the reality you want to live in. She feels art is increasingly important, and as Denver continues to grow and change, she says, her craft will, too.

“Conscious Creatives probably wouldn’t exist without Denver because I was inspired by the people,”
Akiala says. “Now that Denver is experiencing so much growth and change, so am I and so is my art. I may not know exactly what lies ahead, but I know I have community that will support me.”

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Riley Cowing has been writing with Westword since July 2016. She is originally from Kansas City and graduated from the journalism school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She enjoys connecting with local artists, drinking all types of espresso and loves any excuse to watch The Devil Wears Prada.
Contact: Riley Cowing