This fall, Andrea Edmundson and Victor Quiros are opening a creative reuse arts center called Upcycle Tucson. Hoping to be in operation by October 1, the married couple has spent the summer networking, collecting materials and setting up inventory. Upcycle Tucson, 924 W. Grant Rd., will be a center for Tucsonans to shop, create and "be green" by buying inexpensive used or discarded materials for arts and crafts projects. Edmundson and Quiros, who were living in Washington D.C., came back to Tucson to become more creative and earn livings doing something new and enjoyable. The Upcycle Tucson arts center will not only be a retail warehouse with a sorting area, but will also have offices and classrooms for artists of all ages and skill levels to work in and enjoy.
What is Upcycle Tucson?
Andrea: It's almost like a thrift store for art materials, but people solely donate stuff. It's not just paint and fabrics; it's quirky stuff like the inside of hard drives. It's a place to get materials for art and also to learn about reuse and how you can repurpose things. We plan on having creative and fun classes. It's slightly used, brand new, donated and repurposed items. Someone might donate a faucet and we can turn that into a sculpture of a swan or something. It's a place that has a lot of different, non-traditional stuff, the inventory will always be different so people will want to come back because it'll be like a treasure hunt every time.
Victor: It really is a way to keep people who want to get rid of stuff to allow them to get them out of the landfill and into the hands of people who can reuse them. We don't buy inventory like you would at a retail store, we count on people wanting to get rid of things and then other people wanting those things to use in their arts, crafts or decorating.
Why do you think it's important to have a creative reuse arts center?
Victor: I think a lot of people dabble, they see things and they like them and they want to make them themselves, make something similar or exercise their creativity. Some people are really good at it and know what they like, maybe they studied art and are a natural at it. They can go to Michael's or Hobby Lobby and get just what they need, others aren't quite sure what they need or how to use it though and may not want to start by spending a lot of money. This gives those people a place where they can go and explore things to figure if they want to draw, make jewelry or build a mosaic.
Andrea: We can also make people realize that they're throwing too much stuff away, like CDs can become beautiful earrings. People see stuff and they think it's cool and so they get a chance to be creative in a non-threatening environment while also doing some good by decreasing what goes to the landfill.
What's been the best part about creating Upcycle Tucson?
Andrea: I think the best part is just knowing that we're doing something totally out of the realm...It's like your mother expects you go to school and become a doctor when you want to become an artist. ...Now I want to have some fun.
Victor: We're getting a really good response so far. We've got artists around Tucson who not only want to come and find things to use, but they want to teach classes also. So people will get the benefit of taking classes taught by actual experienced artists.
What made you choose to start this business here in Tucson?
Andrea: We love the weather; for God's sake the sun is out all the time. I am so tired of the East Coast gloom.
Victor: A lot of it is the sunshine, it's a whole different feeling here in Tucson; it's an energizer. Tucson has that small-town feeling and has done a lot in the last ten years...The artist's community here is fairly well known throughout the country, and we really like the diversity and depth that Tucson has.
Andrea: Tucson is just really laidback and full of great people, this was the ideal place to work, have fun and be close to family.
If interested in donating or buying materials, visit upcycletucson.com.