I’m a graphic designer and my wife is an artist. We’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay area, Oxford, England, Austin, Texas, New York City, and Houston, Texas. Of all the great places we’ve lived, Houston is where we’ve decided to finally settle down. It’s unmatched for the warmth of the people, the vibrant art community, work opportunities and low cost of living.
Our idea is to be a sort of “halfway house” for artists right out of school. They’re passionate, excited, in need of structure and poor as dirt. That last little detail is how we ended up with shipping containers — they were (and mostly still are) a cheap way to build. It took a while to find a property that was the right combination of central location, size, price and neighborhood suitability. Houston has no zoning, but it does have deed restrictions established by neighborhood civic associations, which are enforcable as law. Most of the city is covered by some sort of deed restrictions, but there are pockets that have none.
The property we found had a house big enough and weird enough for our needs, sitting on a half-acre lot in an unrestricted area that already had a community of artists nearby. After buying the house and making a few essential fixes, we began working on how to build a studio building on the existing 1,000 s.f. slab in the back of the lot.