EDMONDS — Hoping to kick-start your creativity? Start with a big, mostly empty room.
“This is a clean slate for people to work in,” said Mark Malijan, 34, a freelance photographer who owns and operates the studio at 18521 76th Ave. W in Edmonds.
Need a backdrop? Stick with white or pick a color from olive green to lavender or orange.
Need illumination? The studio is stocked with strobe lights, strip lights, lighting grids and reflectors.
For a funky, urban backdrop, roll out an 8-by-8-foot gray stucco wall on wheels. For greenery, there are a dozen large and small potted plants. Tables, chairs, a changing area, kitchen space and a music console complete the space at the L-shaped studio.
“Everything is modular and can be moved around” except for shop dog Yuna, a miniature poodle, Malijan said.
Malijan named the studio after the Greek god Helios, the god of sun and light, “an important aspect of photography.”
He charges $50 an hour to rent the studio or 10 hours for $300. “I’m trying to get people to come here,” he said of the competitive pricing.
While central Seattle offers an abundance of studio space for rent, he said, there are fewer options in the north end of the city and the Edmonds area.
In December, he launched. Since then, fashion designers who want to shoot their upcoming line, makeup artists spotlighting their work and a local hip-hop artist, Ato Molaseng — who filmed a music video at Helios — have booked studio time.
“This month was really busy,” Malijan said.
A year ago, Malijan had plenty of time on his hands.
“I’d lost all my work because of the pandemic. All my contracts were gone and so I just kind of sat around for a while and didn’t know what to do,” Malijan said.
A month or two later, he spotted a vacant office for rent in a strip mall in Perrinville, near his home and 10 minutes from downtown Edmonds.
When he peered through the windows, he saw worn, brown carpet covering the floor, matched with hazy, yellow walls.
He saw past the hodge-podge of colors.
Malijan is a photographer who’s accustomed to visualizing the next great shot. So when he focused on the space, he envisioned a brightly-lit studio with polished concrete floors and white walls.
It just needed some work.
The landlord ripped out the old brown carpeting and sanded the concrete floors to remove carpet glue that clung stubbornly. The walls got a coat of white paint.
Finishing the space took several months. In the meantime, Malijan wondered if it was really going to happen, if he should really open up in the middle of a pandemic.
In the end, he took a leap of faith and signed a three-year lease. “I needed to try something new because my work was just gone. It all came together,” he said.
In Snohomish County, 7,824 new business were launched in 2020, a 17% increase over 2019. Overall, Americans established nearly 4.5 million new businesses last year, up 24% from 2019 and 50% higher than the 2010-19 average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which tracks business formation filings.
Malijan also uses the studio for his own business, Mark Malijan Photography. Those are his portraits on the wall. But his photos could use some company, and he hopes to feature artwork from local photographers and artists.
“I grew up in this area,” Malijan said. “I used to go to the Quick Mart around the corner and buy candy.”
“Perrinville used to be a dead spot. Now it’s coming back,” he said.
His retail neighbors include Wilder & Co. Salon, a hair salon, the All Wound Up Yarn Shop and Barbara’s Bridal Boutique and Alterations. It’s a nice bunch, he said.
Malijan eventally hopes to open photo studios beyond Perrinville — in Seattle and Los Angeles. Why L.A.? “I want a West Coast empire,” he said, smiling.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods