Chicago: I’m Hiring a Workshop Apprentice

Now Hiring

As of 9/30/2014: No longer accepting applications.

Hey. I need some help shipping things (and making things) at my Chicago workshop. Come work with me.

The Fringe Focus workshop in Logan Square is an art studio, production center, office, and woodshop. Fringe Focus designs (and sells) screen prints, posters, and laser engraved housewares via There are occasionally gallery shows or fairs as well.

I am looking for an entry level part-time production assistant (only 10 hours per week). I produce new work every month, and you’d be assisting me in producing art and housewares for customers all over the world. This means cutting wood, gluing projects together, staining / finishing, and operating a wide variety of small power tools (table saw, drill press, hand tools). You’ll get to make products every week, and (importantly) ship products every week.

Did I mention there is a laser cutter? We’re gonna burn things.

Fringe Focus Inc. is a successful independent art studio. It’s not huge, but it’s a successful machine and requires great care. The workshop is the design and illustration office, the production studio, and the fulfillment center (all in one). The workshop assistant would primarily be working in the woodshop / finishing area, and the shipping / packaging station.

An apprenticeship means I’ll be producing work, and you’ll learn to replicate it. You’ll also learn quite a bit about running a small business, and working for yourself. Fringe Focus Inc. has no clients, and nobody to answer to. There are no conference rooms, no phone calls, and no set schedule. If you’re detail oriented and can follow instructions, you’ll be able to learn how to operate every machine in the woodshop (including the laser cutter).

There will be a bit of administration work, like printing shipping labels, packing lists, and organizing areas of the workshop. But most activities will have you using your hands, and we’ll try to keep your time sitting at a desk to an extreme minimum.

Production tasks will vary wildly every week, but may include:

Cutting wood and other materials.
Staining / Finishing / Painting.
Operating a laser cutter.
Gluing or fastening projects together.
Drilling… holes… into stuff.
(Production tasks will be repetitive, we may make thousands of one item)

Shipping tasks will be more standardized, and include:

Printing lists of all customer orders.
Filling boxes with packing material and artwork.
Packing tubes with rolled posters.
Printing and applying shipping labels.
Mailing postcards and small items.
(Shipping tasks are very repetitive, usually 20 to 100 orders at a time)

Organizational tasks may include:

Keeping workbenches organized
Cleaning & vacuuming dust
Printing detailed labels / instructions for various tools & machines
Building jigs to make boring tasks easier for both of us
Building workshop furniture, like shelves, racks, and tables (to be used as infrastructure here)
Going on quick runs to the hardware store or art store for supplies.

Skills & Qualifications:

Skills you’ll learn here! But if you have experience, that’s cool too.

  • Operating wood shop power tools.
  • Operating a laser cutter.
  • Operating laser cutter software & and design software.
  • Wood finishing techniques.
  • Using a spray booth.
  • Building furniture.
  • Fulfilling online orders.
  • Efficiently packing boxes, tubes, etc.


  • Having ‘an eye’. That means being detail oriented and having taste.
  • Can follow strict instructions exactly.
  • Focused, responsible, and awake when operating power tools.
  • Have better handwriting than me.
  • Enjoy, appreciate, and practice the visual arts (in any capacity).
  • You’re confident, intelligent, and curious.
  • Ideally you are looking to become a successful independent artist in the future.
  • You like to make things with your hands.
  • You’re cool with repetitive tasks. (Packing 200 boxes, sanding 400 coasters, etc.)


  • Graduated High School (mandatory).
  • Graduated College is optional, if you’re currently a student that is fantastic as well.
  • Can operate most Google apps, spreadsheets, etc.
  • Familiar with Photoshop & Illustrator (any skill level is fine).
  • Familiar with basic hand tools (drill, hammer, hand saws, etc.).
  • You’re only looking for part time work (this position is ~10 hours per week).
  • You live in Chicago.

To Apply:

As of 9/30/2014: No longer accepting applications.

Write an interesting email with the subject Workshop Apprentice to concierge <at> fringefocus <dot> com

If you have artwork, or pictures of previous hobbies, send those as well. Show me stuff!

This is a an entry level paid part-time job. Pay and any decisions regarding schedule & timeline will be determined later. But you should have 10 hours available per week. Schedule will be very flexible and can be shaped to your needs.

No phone calls. Ever. Ever. Ever.

As of 9/30/2014: No longer accepting applications.

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