A giant buzzing neon sign with the words "Mask Shop" lights up a section of Montrose near Damen where the Inside Out Art Studio sits. It's a pretty literal description, really, because crowding the storefront's window for attention is a colorful and eccentric mix of masks. But once you're through the studio's doors, crafting materials take over. Tubs of paint, paper figures, peacock feathers—every surface, including each bright purple wall, is covered.
Jeff Semmerling, one half of the ownership behind the masks, opened the studio in 2003. His year-round Mardi Gras spirit bubbles throughout the shop, which makes up for its modest amount of physical space.
More than just a mask retailer, the studio offers classes in creative journaling, French language, painting, leather mask-making, and a slew of other unrelated yet creative subjects taught by Semmerling and his wife—they even conduct summer art camps. Basically, it's a shop, a studio, a classroom, and a gallery in about 500 square feet.