- August 30, 2016

Here Is Your Guide To Austin’s Most Creative Neighborhoods!


Central East Austin “East Side” (78702)

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When national attention from the media highlights Austin as the #1 city for hipsters and millennials, it’s always the East Side that is the focus — and for good reason. Between the urban farms, the food trucks and concept restaurants and coffee shops, the art spaces and Open Studios, the music venues, the breweries, the Made in Austin retail and vintage shops, and the highly sought-after walk/bike score to downtown, neighborhoods like Holly and East Cesar Chavez quickly gentrified as the housing market heated up.

“When I first moved to town I was a South Sider do-or-die, then those creative folks and friends started moving farther south, and I hopped over to the East Side,” says Kate Payne, local cookbook author (The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking) and co-founder of Salud Bitters. “There are pockets of old school and new Austin all over town as our city continues to evolve. It obviously depends on budget, as housing in this city isn’t cheap any longer, but I’d say anywhere East is a good bet. Plus this is a less burdened traffic channel, so you’ll spend more time doing and less time sitting in traffic waiting.”

While it’s true that the increased cost of Central East Side living & studio space has priced out some creative professionals, others put a premium on plugging into the established energy of the neighborhood, like local Western Wear designer Kathie Sever, owner of Fort Lonesome, whose chain-stitched patches and cowboy gear have graced the pages of Vogue, the festival stages of ACL and SXSW, and the shoulders of Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club.

“We’re pretty excited to be moving our studio over to the East Side just off East Cesar Chavez near Bearded Lady,” says Sever. “It’s a super vibrant neighborhood full of nice folks doing interesting things!”

But a little farther north and east, there are thriving pockets of affordability and new projects driven by the city, cultural committees, and die-hard East Siders alike that are working hard to keep creatives in the ‘hood. The City of Austin has the Cultural Arts Division’s CAMP, a crowdsourced project established to collect, map, and hopefully protect all of the creative resources that help Austin’s creative community thrive.

One group protecting the cultural diversity that has always made East Austin a hotbed of artistic collaboration and creative inspiration is Six Square, an arts, culture, and historic preservation initiative to protect and provide visibility for the heritage of Austin’s Black Cultural District and its many current black artists. “Professor Dumpster” Jeff Wilson of Huston-Tillotson University has a new tiny house company, KASITA, that is working to keep creatives in the ‘hood and is currently building a prototype affordable micro-housing community on the East Side. And the East Side is also home to many of Austin’s creative-driven co-working spaces, like The Paper + Craft Pantry, which opened this year and offers donation-based co-working for creatives on Fridays as well as skills-based workshops throughout the week.

“If I had to pinpoint a spot in town that’s manifesting a new creative energy, I’d have to name-drop Six Square and local artist/community organizer Miriam Conner,” says Jane Claire Hervey, founder of creative women’s networking group #BossBabesATX. “I love her eye for event synergy and collaboration. Victory Grill is buzzing right now, too. The Red River district and the East 6th bar district are great places to meet people. If you’re looking for Austin’s creatives, that’s where they hang at night. I also like hitting up 11th Street for businesses like Olive, Catchtilly, Hillside Farmacy, and Charm School Vintage. I can always count on inspiration when visiting them.”

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