Tucked in a neighborhood of San Francisco never seen by tourists, a gorgeous, eclectic artist-maker space thrives.
At The Box Shop, it’s completely unsurprising to find someone taking a blow torch and a hammer to a sheet of metal, someone else casting a shimmering cascade of rainbows across LED strips, or an artist pulling brushstrokes across a canvas taller than themselves.
The Box Shop includes an 8,000-square-foot warehouse filled with a dizzying array of metalwork and industrial machinery. In the yard outside the warehouse sits stacks of 60 shipping containers (the boxes to which the space owes its name). Each container is rented and used as an individual studio by an artist or art collective, and these artists form the incredible, collaborative community that makes this place so special.
Metalworkers, stone carvers, seamstresses, painters, woodworkers, sculptors, bicycle engineers, and electronic car producers are among the artists who call The Box Shop home.
In the past year, the shipping containers themselves have been transformed into astonishing pieces of art. The containers now host over 100 different murals each painted by local artists.
Many of the art spaces in the Bay Area have disappeared in recent years due to rising costs, but the Box Shop persists.
Know Before You Go
The Box Shop has no official tours but does host occasional Open Studio days. Since it’s an active maker space, artists are working there almost every day. If you stop by when artists are working, you may find the huge, blue, corrugated metal gates peeled open. Wander in, and chat with whichever artists you find inside. If the doors are closed, knock and give a holler in case there’s anyone inside.
Even if you don’t manage to get past the gates, it is still more than worth the visit to see the Box Shop from the outside. Visitors can still see dozens and dozens of murals on the containers and various sculptures installed outside.