Local artist opens creative studio downtown

Annie Ross has many creative passions: dance, photography, makeup. But her biggest one is guiding the creative passions of others.

That’s why the Auburn native will open a new studio, Atelier, on the first floor of the city’s historic Phoenix Building this weekend.

The name of the studio is a French word for a space where artists create together, Ross told The Citizen, which is what she’ll offer there. At an hourly rate, the studio can be rented by makeup artists who need to teach a class, for instance, or photographers who need to take a headshot. The natural light of the space makes it ideal for those uses, but any number of artistic possibilities await there.

“Auburn is so rich in talent — actors, pianists, singers, dancers,” Ross said. “It all needs to have a space where it can all go.”

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Ross grew up dancing, and cheerleading at Auburn High School. Both passions turned into teaching, including time at the Sonja Ward School of Dance in Auburn and Tiffany’s School of Dance in Syracuse, and a period as coach of the school’s varsity squad. At Onondaga Community College she majored in photography, and over the years she has stepped on the other side of the camera as a model.

In 2016, Ross also became a licensed esthetician. She has served clients at Heads Up Hairstyling in Auburn and throughout Europe, as she lived in Germany for a couple years. She returned to the area in 2018, and shortly thereafter began conceiving of what would become Atelier. Among other reasons for opening the studio, she knew from working with local photographers that they could use it.

“They usually have to travel to Syracuse or Rochester,” she said. “I heard their complaints, and I wanted to do something to help.”

The hourly rate offers photographers and other creatives minimal commitment, Ross said, whether it’s a last-minute shoot relocated due to weather or a mini-session during the holiday season. The space is currently set up with a photography backdrop, massage table and comfortable seating, but it’s fully convertible based on the needs of the person renting it, Ross said.

Ross will also use Atelier herself. Her makeup and lash clientele are mostly brides, she said, but the studio will give her a new space for wedding trials. She plans to program micro events, workshops and markets there as well, and will be able to expand to the neighboring Havana Room on the building’s first floor. Whatever she’s doing there, she’s excited to work with other creatives.

“I really enjoy bringing a vision to life,” Ross said. “I’m a person who has so many ideas in my head and I want to get them all out, whether I’m the one using them or not.” 

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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