LightBox, located downtown across the street from the Goshen Theater, is a studio space used by local artists to work independently or collaboratively on projects involving photography and graphic design.

The studio was founded by Rafael Barahona, a Goshen College graduate, who uses the space at LightBox as a graphic designer. Anne H. Berry, another GC graduate, is a professor at Cleveland State University, also specializing in graphic design. Stuart Meade shares the space as a photographer and business owner of his company. There are other recent grads who use the space for their projects, including Jordan Kauffman, and Jill Steinmetz, a senior, creates art there as well.

“The studio space is a pretty open concept,” Steinmetz said. “There are desks, tables and couches so that you can have client meetings and get your work done. It is an open area that fuels creativity.”

Barahona, Berry and Meade were the original three artists when LightBox was founded. They extended invitations to others, including Kauffman and, later, Steinmetz.

Steinmetz first visited LightBox when she was working on an advertising project. She talked with them about being a graphic designer at GC. By reaching out and making the connection, she was able to get involved.

“You must have an invitation, but they’re always open to new people,” Steinmetz said.

One of her favorite parts of the space, she said, is the huge, open window looking out on Main Street.

“It lets in a lot of light. That may have been what inspired the name for LightBox,” Steinmetz said.  

When founder Rafael Barahona graduated from GC in 2001, he left for a bigger city. He did not want to stay in Goshen. Steinmetz said that now that he is back and founded LightBox, he believes in the idea of a smaller community and wants to give back to the place where he was educated.

Barahona is inspired by the idea that Goshen is a place where people can thrive. Goshen is increasingly richer and more vibrant because of local artists and spaces such as LightBox. According to Steinmetz, Barahona promotes staying in the community as opposed to taking one’s talents and services to bigger cities like Chicago.

Steinmetz likes the amazing opportunity that LightBox has provided for her and other young professional artists.

“Everyone who works there splits rent, myself included, as we all receive the benefits from the space,” she said. “We have our own desks there and can come and go, using the space as our office whenever we want.”

Steinmetz said it is helpful to have people to bounce ideas off of, receive tips and support each other creatively.

“It can get lonely working by yourself,” she said. “Having a space to share is nice, and can foster more creativity as well. You also get the opportunity to make friends.”

Steinmetz has her own job as a freelancer and is also subcontracted by Barahona.

“He gets so many jobs, and so sometimes he can give something to me to do,” she said. “I am learning how to balance the experiences and things I do for free at Goshen College with the things I do for pay, like a real working person at LightBox.”

A few of Steinmetz’s most recent projects have been hand lettering for a Goshen artist showcase, layouts for newsletters, website design and updates for a downtown furniture business and creating a poster for a concert series.

In terms of advice for graphic design students or other young creative artists, there are a few tips that she recommends.

“Build connections, network with people and if you’re interested in getting involved, ask questions,” Steinmetz said. “It is important to find ways like this to gain practice and experience. Don’t be afraid to take the risk. It’s amazing to work with other local artists, and I encourage others to do the same as well.”