“We want to solve artists’ problems,” explains Kenneth Yuen (Art MFA 20), who with Casey Baden (Art MFA 20) recently co-founded Full Service Creative. Having graduated into the worst economy in modern history, the duo has found a way to support both themselves and the larger CalArts community though their new business.
Full Service operates primarily as a fabrication and consultation business. Recent projects range from modifying a sculpture for artist Shirley Tse—faculty in the CalArts School of Art, whose work was included in the 2019 Venice Biennale—to building out a loft for Gala Porras Kim (Art MFA 09). (The loft, for Kim’s LA studio, included a custom-molded concrete staircase.)
In May, after graduating, the Baden and Yeun had moved into a live-work warehouse space in central Los Angeles along with two other recent CalArts graduates. Given the abysmal job market, including closed galleries and museums, and the opportunity their new space provided, Baden and Yuen decided to strike out on their own, officially creating Full Service in July 2020.
Baden and Yuen, who met at CalArts and who are both artists in their own right, make an ideal match as business partners. Baden has worked in galleries such as 1301PE in LA and for artists including Vera Lutter, known for her large-scale use of camera obscuras. This background in arts administration has prepared her well for running a small business. She keeps Full Service running, “communicating with customers, setting up bank accounts, getting taxes paid, doing all the paperwork,” as she explained over the phone.
Yuen, meanwhile, is a master builder and fabricator, adept at welding and shaping metal. “I have a familiar history and making. Most of my uncles on my mother’s side either worked in construction, or craft, or trade,” he says. Yuen also worked as a preparator and, during his MFA, as a supervisor at the CalArts Super Shop, an expansive workspace for creating sculptures from wood, metal, clay, and more.
At the Super Shop, he helped art students plan and create their projects; he’s a problem solver, who believes in the visions of the artists he works with.
Full Service’s most ambitious project thus far has been rebuilding a studio space for Antoine Midant (Art MFA 19) and Anais Franco (Art BFA 19). They began by demolishing a deteriorating shed in a backyard, and then erected a new structure from scratch. The resulting 12-by-16-foot space is a fully-functioning studio, replete with a window and exterior slop sink.
Though fabrication may be the beginning for Full Service, Baden and Yeun also have other goals and dreams for the venture. They’ve been looking for a larger warehouse, with the hope that they can maintain a fabrication workshop in the back, and public-facing space in the front. One day, they hope to host exhibitions, workshops, and even a residency.
— by Annika Klein