Creative Connections

The two artists behind the STUΔIO bonded over sharing a communal creative space.

It was their shared Greek heritage and journeys as creative female entrepreneurs that artists Theodora Miller and Vana Chupp first bonded over.

Miller picked up a paint brush after a traumatic brain injury when the doctors suggested she do something with her hands. It began with slinging paint and getting out her frustrations, but the hours spent painting allowed her to lose track of time, paused her racing thoughts and decreased her symptoms. Artful living took on a new meaning, becoming an essential part of her healing.

She eventually recovered and went back to work, but continued painting. Posting on Instagram provided positive feedback, so she started an LLC, built a website and began selling as a side hustle while working full-time and raising a family. “After seven years of developing my artistic voice and growing the business organically, I took a leap of faith and became a full-time artist in 2022,” Miller says. “Since then, I’ve expanded into ceramics, textiles, wallpaper and other artful products.”

Chupp stumbled upon the art of silhouette-making as a new mom looking for a creative way to document her son’s ever-changing baby features in a unique way that wasn’t just taking a photograph. “I treasure those early silhouettes because they capture his true essence. At the time, I didn’t know what I was actually drawing was his silhouette,” Chupp says. “As moms, we long to relive the moments when our babies were little.”

(From left) Theodora Miller and Vana Chupp. Photographer: Kristi McKeag.

Transitioning to a full-time art practice gave Miller some new insights about herself. Since so much of creating is done in isolation, she realized that she still needed a healthy dose of being with people. Their individual leases were ending, so they played around with the idea of sharing a workspace that would allow them to feel supported and energized by each other. One thing they knew for sure was that they wanted the space to be bigger than themselves.

When they came across a vacant space in the Fan, they fell in love with the natural light, location and proximity to some of their favorite places.

“As we began dreaming what this space could look like besides a workspace for our individual businesses, we both thought it could be a place that brings community together, connects us with other like-minded people and fosters creativity,” Chupp says. “The Δ behind the STUΔΙΟ was a representation of the 3 C’s – community, creativity and connection – as well as an ode to our Greek heritage.”

Inside the creative space of the STUΔIO at 2510 W. Main St.

The STUΔIO is the artistic home of Vana Chupp Studio and Theodora Miller brands. Beyond being a space for creating and working, they share their talents with others through client consultations, appointments, studio visits, workshops, pop-ups and special events. “I find leading workshops so rewarding. Creativity is within all of us, we just need to be brave enough to tap into it and learn to play again,” Miller says. “I love witnessing that moment when someone goes from thinking ‘I’m not creative’ to settling into the joy of exploring and being wonderfully surprised at how much fun they had.”

Recent events have included a creativity workshop featuring Miller’s Blooming Girls and Chupp’s Silhouette Art and a private painting workshop for a group of mothers and daughters, with other workshops planned for garden clubs and health organizations. Next up are open studio shopping days, seasonal pop ups, art workshops, self-care workshops, private parties and fundraising shopping events for organizations. “Our Business Besties program is launching soon for women entrepreneurs to share their expertise, wins and challenges,” Miller says. “We envision this to be a small group event happening monthly.”

Although the STUΔΙΟ is the artistic home where the two artists dream and create, they say it’s also well-equipped as a place to meet with clients to collaborate on custom pieces. Both their businesses operate online, while local customers are welcomed by appointment only. “We want people to feel at ease and surrounded by positivity and good energy, whether they come in to attend one of our workshops or by appointment to design a custom piece or commission,” Chupp says. “We also want to empower and inspire other women and show that community over competition is always the way forward.”

Miller and Chupp praise Richmond’s creative community of small businesses, but believe it lacks unique places for people to come have an experience rather than just shop. Facilitating such events in a world that’s increasingly digital provides a chance to step away from screens and connect with the people around us. “These shared experiences foster a sense of belonging and community,” Chupp says. “Whether you’re learning a new skill alongside others at a workshop, cheering on a local artist at a community event, or simply striking up a conversation with a fellow shopper, these connections create a richer, more vibrant experience that strengthens the social fabric of our neighborhood.”

That vision where community, connection, and creativity intertwine is the essence of what they want the STUΔIO to be. “These values not only inspire our individual creative endeavors,” Miller says. “Together, they fuel our dream for fostering a vibrant community space.”

The STUΔIO is located at 2510 W. Main Street. Visit their website at www.studio-2510.com. 

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