Looking to pick up a new hobby? Indigo Studio is here to help.

Do you enjoy the thrill of picking up a new hobby? You’re not alone. 53 percent of Americans picked up at least one new hobby over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But new hobbies can be expensive and time-consuming. The internet has an endless supply of videos and blogs with instructions or material recommendations, but it can be overwhelming to figure out what to buy to get started on something new. 

Art lines the shelves at Indigo Studio.Serial hobbyists will tell you they often spend big bucks to pick up a new hobby, only to drop it after weeks or months because it wasn’t something that suited them.  If you’re crafting on a budget, you might find yourself wondering if name brands are always worth the higher costs. 

That’s why Jennifer Zartman Romano started Indigo Studio. A serial crafter herself, Zartman Romano knows the struggle of fellow arts and craft enthusiasts who want to try everything. 

Eliza Romano and Jennifer Zartman Romano at Indigo Studio in Fort Wayne.
“Every form of art, I’ve jumped in fully at some point in time,” says Zartman Romano. “You get all this stuff and realize that maybe this isn’t something that fits well into my lifestyle, or maybe you can't even get all the supplies you want to have. When you come in here, we have all the stuff for you to be able to try it.”

Nestled on the second floor of the building on the corner of W Wayne Street and Fairfield Avenue in Downtown Fort Wayne, Indigo Studio is the homely arts and crafts studio meant to give kids and adults alike the opportunity to access and explore arts in a stress-free, fun environment.

“We think it’s important for people to have access to arts opportunities for all ages– not just kids, not just adults,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to come try different things without feeling like they need to fully invest in something. You might want to get into painting pouring, for example, but you don’t know much about it or what’s involved. This would be an opportunity for you to come and try something and get started on that.”

Indigo Studio in Downtown Fort Wayne.Indigo Studio is a family affair, Zartman Romano says that’s mainly because it was her daughter, Eliza Romano, who persistently told her they should have an art business. 

Last summer, Jennifer says she was healing from an illness and had to take a break from her usual hobbies, so she picked up watercolors for the first time since her childhood and rediscovered the love she had for the medium.

She grew up in a home full of art. Her mother was an artist of many mediums. Growing up on a farm in a rural part of Columbia City, with the closest neighbors being miles away, she found ways to entertain herself with the arts.

“There was always something creative going on,” recalls Jennifer. “I spent a lot of time watching my mom paint.”

Art lining the windows at Indigo Studio.From painting to drawing and basketweaving, art was part of Jennifer’s daily life growing up and that’s something she’s tried to pass down to Eliza– encouraging her to explore her creativity.

“Eliza is really creative,” says Jennifer. “It’s one of the things that’s got her to focus and it brings her a lot of joy, so we started keeping a lot more art supplies around the house and keeping her busy with that kind of stuff.”

Currently, Eliza says she most enjoys painting, sketching and crafting with paper or duct tape.

Artwork done by Eliza Romano.Jennifer wasn’t sure what an art business would look like for her family. She laughs as she explains that as much as she loves her daughter's art projects, she couldn’t imagine making a business out of selling them. 

Eventually, Jennifer started working with Leaha Meinika, Owner of Roy G Biv Creative Space in Columbia City. As Meinika decided it was time to close her business, Jennifer sought her approval to start a business with the same structure.

“When we decided to go out and do our own thing we had to put it all together from the ground, and we did that with Leaha’s blessing,” says Jennifer.

In February of 2023, Indigo Studio opened in Fort Wayne. A month later Indigo Studio opened another location in Columbia City, to fill the gap left by the closing of Roy G Biv. 

Jennifer says for her, it’s all about making art stress-free and accessible while reaping the benefits of letting your creativity flow.

Indigo Studio offers a wide variety of arts and craft projects.“One of the things about art is that I don't think you need to be great at it to be able to do it and to get the benefits of it,” she says. “It’s really beneficial to be able to do creative and artistic things. It can have a big impact on your health and your mental well-being to do creative things. We want to be a space that is inclusive and comfortable and helps you nurture that part of yourself that you might normally put to the side.”

Walking into Indigo Studio, customers are greeted by art-covered walls and shelves, including some by Jennifer and fifth-grader Eliza, who enjoys the creative atmosphere at Indigo.
A sign, which is updated daily, lets customers know which projects they can pick.
“I like seeing what people do with their art,” says Eliza. “Sometimes it can give me inspiration for what I want to do for my next project. With my art, I can show people some inspiration. I like seeing people with smiles on their faces after they’ve finished their art they’re proud of themselves and they feel calm and soothed.”

Each day there’s a new sign letting customers know which projects are available. Prices are listed clearly, ranging from $5 for smaller projects up to $30 for bigger projects, with no studio fees or hidden charges. Jennifer says all projects are able to be taken home the same day too. 

“Walking into an art studio can be really overwhelming, so we list all available options on a board and help you pick out the project you want to do,” says Jennifer. “We try to have different kinds of projects so that you can always be trying something new and different to find the thing that works for you.”

Whatever type of project you pick, Jennifer and Eliza, or their staff, are there to guide you and provide support or encouragement.

“It's a starting point,” explains Jennifer. “You can get familiar with some different brands you might like or want to try. It’s a more educated starting point on what could be your new passion, rather than just going into a store, standing in the aisle, and being like ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing.’”

Another benefit to stopping by Indigo Studio to try a new project? They clean up for you.

“You can come in here, make all the mess you want to, get paint, as you can see, all over the place, and we’ll clean it up,” Jennifer says. “The point is that you do the project, that you try and open yourself up to doing something creative. You might surprise yourself.”

Indigo Studio offers a wide variety of arts and craft projects.In addition to open studio hours where you can walk in or make an appointment, Indigo Studio offers Creative Coaching, where clients can get one-on-one help to explore their project options or start a new project.

“One-on-ones are great for people who might get anxious starting a project or trying something new,” says Jennifer. “It’s just one-on-one figuring out what they want to do and going from there.”

They also offer classes in their studio, and Jennifer says they plan to host more and hope to have more kid-centered classes in the future as well. Previous classes have focused on watercolor, clay and multimedia. 

Aprons and other supplies at Indigo Studio.The studio is available to rent for birthday parties or other occasions as well.

Regardless of what brings a customer to Indigo Studio, Jennifer and Eliza say they are eager to help encourage others in their creativity.

“It is amazing what art does for someone at any age,” says Jennifer. “When you’ve completed a project and feel that sense of pride– it’s just a nice thing to be a part of.”
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Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne's Managing Editor. Previously she served as Assistant Editor and participated in the College Input Program. She also volunteers for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.