ACOLAB is a vibrant workspace for digital artists in the Epworth Building. Originally a Renew Adelaide venture, it has blossomed into a thriving hub for gaming and animation professionals, fostering community and propelling the growth of Adelaide’s digital art industry.
Written by Renew Adelaide
ACOLAB is an office space situated in the Epworth Building on Pirie St. It’s a place where digital artists work on various projects, and you can find them at their desks surrounded by concept art and VR headsets that provide insights into their ongoing endeavours.
Nic Cutts, the operations manager, highlights that despite working on diverse projects in different fields, the open environment of ACOLAB promotes mutual assistance, troubleshooting, and even hiring among the artists. Nic explains, “Essentially, ACOLAB provides them with a workspace, and because everyone is in the same space, they move between desks, chat, receive feedback on their work, and have even been employing each other. It has created a valuable work pipeline, as you’re in close proximity to professionals in your field or adjacent fields.”
Inception of ACOLAB
ACOLAB was born when Darcy Holmes and Thomas Meakin, both freelancers in the gaming industry, conceived the idea of establishing a collaborative office space for digital creatives. Eager to have a dedicated workspace, they launched ACOLAB, turning their vision into reality with the support of the Renew Adelaide program. Darcy expresses gratitude, saying, “Renew Adelaide provided us with the necessary resources and a deadline that motivated us to take action.”
Renew Adelaide has a strong partnership with the Epworth Building, initially activating level one with a cluster of five independent fashion labels in 2016, followed by a further nine activations across various emerging industries from tech studios to creative agencies. This continued partnership spanning multiple years has resulted in Renew building a thorough understanding of the creative ecosystem that exists in a multi-tenant building such as Epworth.
ACOLAB recently embarked on their first major independent project—a film. While their team typically undertakes contract work for other companies, having a project of their own is a significant milestone, and they aspire to pursue more in the future. Nic expresses excitement, stating, “We’ve gone from helping other studios and businesses fix their problems—which we’ll continue to do because it’s great fun—to now we’ve got a project we’ve written, done the design for, and will animate. It’s really nice to have something that’s uniquely ours”
The Future of ACOLAB
The next phase for ACOLAB involves transitioning from a coworking space for freelancers to a more structured company model. Nic explains, “ACOLAB has cemented itself as a space provider, while Darcy and Thomas continue as independent contractors outside the office”
Their plan includes taking on contracts and subcontracting work to artists within the space, aiming to enhance profitability and ensure reliable payment for artists’ contributions. By adopting a company structure, ACOLAB seeks to have stronger negotiating power and address the common issue of delayed payments prevalent in the creative industry. ACOLAB’s commitment to providing opportunities for digital artists and fostering industry growth in South Australia drives their ongoing efforts.