neighborhood: east williamsburg | space type: screenprinting \ events | active since: 2010
links (werdink): site, blog, myspace, facebook | link (ninja pyrate): facebook
contact (werdink): firstname.lastname@example.org; 917.204.2976 | contact (ninja pyrate): email@example.com
Even though I live about ten minutes away from them, I’d never heard of Werdink Screenprinting Boutique or Ninja Pyrate. And maybe you haven’t either—but believe me, that’s going to change. They’ve got an amazing hybrid space, encompassing a high-end screenprinting studio, a boutique shop selling apparel and skateboards (all printed onsite), a multipurpose event space with a rubber floor and an aerial rig, a DJ setup, and a recording studio in a pirate ship. A pirate ship. And they’re really eager to open the space up to the community, to see what people can do with it.
Who are these amazing people? Matthew is the Werdink screenprinter, and his sister Krisstina and her boyfriend Jeff are still figuring out more amazing ways to use the Ninja Pyrate space. Plus they’re all well connected to the crazy Brooklyn creatives: Werdink did a screenprinting truck for the first three Lost Horizon Night Markets and shares tips with Bushwick Print Lab; Krisstina pals around with one of the girls from House of Yes and Lady Circus who started Make Fun; their space is literally downstairs from Shea Stadium.
Scroll down to hear more from these awesome people!
[all photos in this post by Alix Piorun]
brooklyn spaces: Okay, tell me about Werdink.
Matthew: It’s a screenprinting studio and retail shop, based on high-end development for independent fashion and artists. I work with people who are looking to broaden their horizons, make their stuff bigger. I take my time with my clientele, and I build relationships with them and bond with them and become part of their creative process. I’ve been doing this for years, and I do a wide range of printmaking, so I have a lot to offer. It’s not just making t-shirts; I also do tip-to-tail skateboard printing, and lots of other things. I spent a period of my life working with high-end, bigger names and brands, and I want to be able to give more independent people that same experience.
brooklyn spaces: Who are some people you’re really excited to be working with?
Matthew: My friend Ian Hurst, he has a company called 333Theory, and we’ve been working together for three years now, developing his line. Right now we’re making a bunch of t-shirts, but the t-shirts are a side project for his graphic novels, which are coming out later. There’s Connie Wang, from Iconartistry, who I got to know through Ad Hoc Art. She worked with me here for a few years and has since moved on to start her own print studio. There’s Hannah, she interns here, she’s started a brand called Helplessly Happy. There’s Hull, they’re a metal band, they were actually my first intense project in this space. A lot of those guys work at the Anchored Inn around the corner—we love that place, it’s awesome, everybody should go there and drink. Our friend Tara McManus has a company called 3rd Earth Designs, she has some stuff in my boutique and is always expanding her line. It’s hard to pick favorites, I love everyone I work with.
brooklyn spaces: Okay, so let’s switch to Ninja Pyrate. You guys are doing a bunch of different things in here, right?
Jeff: Yeah, we have a lot of interesting hobbies, so we’re trying to do as much as we can. We want to do different yoga classes, like dubstep yoga, costume yoga, pirate yoga. We have a friend who wants to teach capoeira, and we have an aerial rig. On top of that, we have a lot of friends who spin fire, so we’re going to do some poi and spinning classes, and we’re working on making new kinds of fire-spinning tools.
Krisstina: And also stuff like craft nights, clothing swaps with live screenprinting, skill-building workshops, movie nights.
Matthew: We did a release party for a book I helped work on, Gutterfish, with some people reading poetry and a couple of DJs. We’re also planning to put in a little tea and coffee bar.
Jeff: And the space isn’t just for us. We’re going to have an open house soon, because I want to get people imagining, coming up with ways they could use the space.
Matthew: We’re starting to finish up the projects on the inside, so now I’m thinking about the outside. I want to do a party to get some graffiti up on the wall outside.
brooklyn spaces: The landlords don’t mind?
Matthew: The landlords are so cool! I walk over there and I’m like, “Hey, I know you just spent thousands of dollars putting in this new sidewalk last year, but is it cool if I have the city come tear it up and put in some trees?” And they’re like, “It’s you’re place, do whatever you want. You want trees, get some trees.”
brooklyn spaces: Whose is the recording studio? Is that Ninja Pyrate?
Krisstina: Yeah, I do music recording. And our band, Yar, uses it.
brooklyn spaces: And why a pirate ship?
Krisstina: The pirate ship is all found wood. I found it in the hallway of my apartment. I almost walked past it, because, you know, bedbugs. But then I was like, “Wait a minute! I’m a pirate, those are skeletons, this was meant to be.” I called Jeff and said, “Honey, I got you a present from the garbage.”
Jeff: It was the best present I’ve ever gotten.
Matthew: About 80 percent of this place was built with recycled materials. Everything in the boutique is reused. Build It Green is freaking rad. I can’t go there without wanting to spend hundreds of dollars.
Jeff: Krisstina really wanted a playground floor, and I was like “We’re never going to find that.”
Krisstina: And then one of the times we were at Build It Green, I was like “You wouldn’t happen to have rubber flooring here, would you?” And they totally did. We had to dig it out from under the snow in the back parking lot. It was filthy.
brooklyn spaces: Do you think places like this are what’s making Brooklyn what it is right now? Or is Brooklyn like this, and people come and find their place here?
Matthew: That’s a good question. I think it’s a bit of both. As soon as I came to this neighborhood, I was like, “This is where I belong.” I never want to leave Brooklyn.
Krisstina: In Brooklyn there are so many creative people who are really motivated, and who all want to share tips and ideas. It helps to pool your resources; you never know how far you can go when you do that. Space is rare in New York, and expensive, so people have to come together to make it work. And people in the Bushwick area are so supportive. People make an effort to check out what you’re doing and help you with it.
Jeff: I love our friends in Brooklyn, and even people who don’t have this sort of space know we’re here, so if they need somewhere to spread out and do something, they can come to us. We’ve got a lot of creative friends who need more space to be loud, and this is a place they can do that. We’re just trying to help people get together and do things.