Make art at Better

Let’s face it, you can draw anywhere. Just pick up your sketch book and a pencil. You can draw at home, in a public space, I even draw at work during meetings (great to have captive models across the table). So why would you come to Better to draw?

I can think of nine reasons:

1. To use equipment that you don’t have at home

We see Better as being a place where more expensive tools can be shared and made affordable. So, for example, we have light box and a projector. We have a list on the wall where you can add what you would like to see at Better. We’ll do our best to add to the range of equipment over time.

2. To try out new materials and media without having to buy them

Better supplies a range of materials for drawing and painting that, as a member, you can use for free. Never tried pastels? Now’s your chance. Want to know what different papers are like to work on? Come and experiment. We even have an electric eraser! If you haven’t tried that out, you should. Check out this YouTube video to see what it does.

3. For the inspiration of new environments, people and conversations

When you work alone, without human interaction or even just the stimulus of new environments, you can get stale. Getting out and connecting with others can inspire you. Have new conversations, with different people. See what others are doing and steal their ideas.

4. For ideas about exercises to try (like a teacher, but less intrusive)

We curate information that’s useful for artists. We have a great collection of books that you can refer to, we are collecting information about exercises you can try and we are collating YouTube playlists of helpful videos. As a member of Better you get access to this information. So whatever medium you work in, there will be things for you to try when you’re not sure what to do next.

5. Interesting subjects: pictures, still life compositions, live models

Each week we compose a new still life to an interesting theme. (Our last one was on a gardening theme.) Come along and work on it whenever you like. We plan to hire models for life drawing, as soon as we have enough interest. We also bring flowers, objects, pictures for inspiration. This is not a class, just set yourself up and draw or paint.

6. The freedom to work on what you are interested in (not like attending a class)

We want to offer a mix of classes, and a work space to get on with your current projects, as you please. If you need structure, join a class. If you are a more experienced or independent artist, come along and work to your own pace and in your own direction.

7. It’s a non-judgemental environment where play and experiment are encouraged

We understand that doing art can be scary. It can be especially scary if you have been subjected to critique in the past. Better is a friendly space. We have no pretensions about what is good art or bad. As long as you are having fun creating, you are welcome and you will find a supportive space. Professionals and amateurs are all welcome.

8. It’s a nice space

The studio at Better is a large open space that is cheerful and comfortable. Unless you are lucky enough to have your own studio you’ll probably find it more comfortable than working at home.

9. The refreshments are free

Your Better membership includes free tea and coffee, rusks and fruit. Help yourself at any time. Lunch can be ordered in, or eat at a local restaurant.

 

Better is a place for working, sharing and socialising. We want to build a community of people who use the place regularly and get to know each other. We’d like you to become a member of Better and become part of this community.

Maybe your art is difficult to do at Better; maybe you are into installations or you are working on 10 meter high sculptures. In that case, please come and visit and bring the pictures to share.

Get in touch!

Our EFT details

For Electronic Funds Transfers, please use the bank account details below.

Bank:       First National Bank
Account:    62629805922
Branch:     250655 / FNB Client Resolution Centre
Name:       Crafty Humans Pty
Reference:  Your name

Payments can take a few days to clear. If you’re paying for an event which happens soon, please use your bank’s EFT interface to send a payment confirmation e-mail.

Confirmations:  patience@better.joburg 
             or betterjoburg@gmail.com

If you have any concern that we won’t be able to match the payment to your transaction, please e-mail patience@better.joburg explaining what the payment is for, the date it was made, and the amount paid.

We also have credit card facilities at Better.

Discounts for upfront payment

Better memberships are monthly, with no contracts. Your membership will run from the day you pay us to the same day in the next month.

For all the details about the three tiers of membership click here.

If you want to sign up for longer we offer a 5% discount if you pay upfront for 3 months and a 10% discount if you pay upfront for 6 months. So the discounted costs work out like this:

 

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

1 month

R550

R1200

R2600

3 months (less 5%)

R1650 R1567

R3600 R3420

R7800 R7410

6 months (less 10%)

R3300 R2970

R7200 R6480

R15600 R14040

 

Sign up here, or come and visit us, or get in touch.

 

 

 

Better for academics

Sabbatical?

Nagging publisher?

Trying to finish your thesis?

Conference deadline looming?

…we can make it Better

 

Better is a place for people who do creative work that is often solitary, to get together to work, share and relax. This makes it an ideal place for academics to escape from the bustle and interruptions of campus, to focus on research writing.

Working together with other writers makes writing easier because

  • there is camaraderie,
  • there is some social pressure to sit down and write
  • it’s inspiring to work with other writers
  • there are fewer distractions – you can’t go and stack the dishwasher
  • and when you get stuck, coffee and a chat can help you to get unstuck.

 

Better has been put together by Judy Backhouse, based on her experiences of running writing retreats for academic writers, and in response to the difficulties of writing on university campuses.

Think of Better as your permanent writing retreat, a place to drop in and write at any time. You could use Better

  • once a week to make a habit of research writing
  • for a week or two when you have a paper to prepare
  • for two or three days when you are chasing a deadline
  • every day to make the most of your sabbatical
  • to attend a workshop to inspire you now and then
  • to run a workshop, on a writing theme

 

Better has cosy rooms with tables and chairs to work at, armchairs to read in, free Wi-Fi, books and curated information on research writing, as well as other resources for writing. The venue is homely, warm and welcoming, with a large garden. There is free tea and coffee. Lunches can be ordered in, or taken at a leisurely pace at one of the many nearby restaurants. It’s located along Oxford Road, between Killarney and Rosebank.

Better supports slow scholarship, the idea that, like slow food, good writing (and thinking) must be “carefully prepared, with fresh ideas, local when possible, and is best enjoyed leisurely”. The process is respected here, more than the product. There is aso a programme of workshops and events for learning and sharing.

To ensure that you have access to this environment all year round, become a member. Memberships are monthly, with no contracts. Visit us to see the place or get in touch.

Membership options at Better

Make Better your regular work and play space by becoming a member of Better.  We’d love to have you join our community. Here we explain our membership options.

The free stuff

All members of Better get, for free

  • fast WiFi,
  • coffee, tea and snacks,
  • access to books and curated information, and
  • the use of a range of creating equipment and materials.

Members can attend many of our events free and get discounts on workshops and training.

The membership options

There are three tiers of membership:

As a starving artist (tier one) you want access to Better more than four times a month, but your budget is tight. For R550 per month, you get:

  • access Better up to ten days in the month
  • 5 pages of printing free each day, and
  • a discount on one guest per day.

If you are at the point of creating every day, and want a place to work regularly, leaving your stuff overnight, then the regular maker (tier two) option is for you. You pay R1200 per month for

  • access to Better as often as you want
  • 10 pages of printing free each day,
  • a discount on two guests per day,
  • off-street parking, and
  • your own locker.

If you run a successful freelance business and want, not only a place to work, but the kind of services that will free up your time for more important things, then we consider you a creative agent (tier three). At this  level, for R2600 per month you enjoy

  • access to Better as often as you want
  • 20 pages of printing free each day,
  • a discount on four guests per day,
  • off-street parking,
  • your own locker,
  • 8 hours exclusive use of a meeting room in the month
  • 12 free secretarial services in the month
  • 2 hours of tech support in the month

There are no contracts. Our memberships run from whatever day you sign up to that same day in the next month. We’d like you to renew each month, but only if you love being here.

You can pay for 3 or 6 months at a time, and we’ll give you a discount of 5% or 10% respectively.

Sign up here.

The pay as you go option

You can also pay R150 per day to come and use the space. Once you are inside, you will have access to the free stuff for members. You can also pay for other services as follows:

  • Printing R1 per page
  • Locker RR30 per week
  • Meeting room R200 per hour
  • Secretarial services R110 per task
  • Tech support R400 per hour

The discounted rate for guests of members is R100 per day.

Or sign up here.

Self-care for freelancers

Freelance work is better than full-time employment in many ways, but as a freelancer you depend heavily on your self – your health, your state of mind and your own skills and abilities. So you have to look after yourself.

This workshop forces you to focus on yourself for a change and think about how well you are doing and how you can take better care of yourself. We discuss your physical and mental health, how to be a good boss to yourself, managing money and time and how to cultivate networks that work for you. We share ideas, hacks and hints for a saner freelance life. Take away a portfolio of resources and your own self-care plan.

The workshop is very hands-on, working through exercises. We work with small groups so that there is time to listen to each person’s story and discuss specific strategies and solutions for you.

This workshop is for freelancers at all stages who want to lead a saner, more balanced life.

Weekday afternoon, 2:30pm to 6pm, Wed 20th September

Cost: R400 (R300 for members of Better), click here for our EFT details

Six places only, booking essential! Contact Patience on 011 327 6098 or patience@better.joburg.

Better is a co-working haven

You love the freedom of freelancing, but you miss having colleagues and the casual chat in the kitchen. Your local coffee shop has free WiFi, but you have to pack up your laptop to go to the bathroom and that coffee machine can be noisy. You might have tried shared offices, but they are pricey and can be too trendy to be comfortable.

So what if there was a space like this?

  • A comfortable, homely place, with a range of workspaces from tables to armchairs
  • Quiet areas and more social areas, and a big garden
  • Other excellent humans as colleagues
  • Books and curated resources to enhance your freelance work, and courses and seminars to share ideas
  • A safe workspace for members only

…plus fast WiFi, tea, coffee and snacks, lockers for your stuff, safe parking, administrative support, tech support, and meeting rooms?

Well, we made the space, and we want you to share it with us. Better is a shared workspace designed by freelancers, for freelancers. Judy (an artist, writer and academic) and Andrew (a writer and programmer) wanted a space to work and to meet up with great people like you, who have also chosen a freer style of earning.

We wanted something warm and welcoming, rather than edgy and self-conscious, and we wanted to make it accessible to freelancers just starting out, as well as offering substantial value-adds for the more-established. Join us to work, collaborate, share information and support, relax and play.

Read our story to get a feel for who we are.

Visit Better and see the place for yourself. Work here for a day, for free.

Join our community as a member. Membership gets you in on your terms.

So you plan to write a book?

If you are anything like me you have four or five books outlined in your head, or even in a document. You may even have started writing one or two of them. I have a good 10000 words down for one of mine. But “finally writing a book” has been on my to-do list for the past four or five years.

I’ve decided that actually getting it done needs me to make some kind of change – a change in my habits and way of working.

The habits of published writers have been dissected and reflected on and so we know that writing is about discipline and that successful writers cultivate the habit of writing. Among prolific writer Henry Miller’s commandments for writing we find:

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  3. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  4. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  5. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  6. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

I can see I need to work on 1 and 5, but I like 4 too!

I’ve learned in my academic life that the only way to make sure that research papers get written is to schedule time for writing and then to guard that time ferociously. Students and colleagues who knock on my office door when the “I’m writing” sign is up, get snarled at. It also helps to make writing fun and to do it in great surroundings, hence the growth of writing retreats at universities.

An interesting outcome of writing retreats has been the realisation that, while the actual act of writing is solitary, there are lots of supporting roles for other people to play in the process. My academic writing has benefitted from the support of colleagues to egg me on, give advice, suggest new directions, make me stick to deadlines and generally to commiserate during the process. Those who attend retreats are pleasantly surprised at how productive they can be writing in a room full of writers.

While I have academic colleagues on tap, when it comes to the other books I want to write, I don’t have much opportunity to include others in the process. So part of the story of Better is to make those opportunities. I am hoping that Better is going to be habit-forming. I certainly want to use it to improve my own writing habits and perhaps it will help you to improve yours.

Better offers a conducive environment and the company and support of other writers. If you are a writer with experiences to share, or an aspirant writer wanting to establish new habits, come along to our Regular Writer’s Tea on Friday mornings for a chat.

Regular Writers’ Tea

The Regular Writer’s Tea is a fun morning for all sorts of writers who want to be more regular in their writing practice.

Meet with other regular writers. Enjoy tea – and coffee and cake – while you chat, share what you are working on, seek inspiration and support, and swap writing practices with other writers. It’s informal and casual. You can just hang out and listen if you are shy.

After tea, we have some activity. Participate in a writing exercise devised by a member of the group. We have written collaborative stories, played with memories in the first and third person, and written to music. Stretch yourself by trying something new! Bring a notebook and pen with you.

You can also stay and write! This is your time to add words to your current book, short story or poem, in a comfortable, wi-fi enabled space. You will be surrounded by other heads-down writers who understand the importance of writing regularly.

The Regular Writer’s Tea happens every Friday morning from 10:00 to 12:00.

  • FREE for Members of Better
  • R50 for for the tea and chat (10:00 to 12:00)
  • R150 to stay and write for the day

No need to book for this one, just come along and pay at the door. We take cash or credit cards.

back to Events

Sneak previews of Better

We thought you might be interested to see something of Better, so here are a few pictures. Above is the facade of the building.

Better occupies the left side of the building with the reception, lounge, kitchen and studio on the ground floor.

Lovely light in the kitchen
Judy’s workspace in the studio this week

On the top floor we have two rooms that we call the meeting room and the writing room, a bathroom, as well as the use of that lovely veranda.

A quiet spot to read in the meeting room
One of the work areas in the writing room

But that’s not all! We also have the use of the garden, with space to enjoy your tea, hold a meeting or work under the trees.

Space to sit in the garden

Do come and visit to see the rest of Better. Click here for directions. We are open weekdays from 9am to 6pm and you can drop in any time for a tour. We have scheduled times to Meet the Dreamers when both Andrew and Judy will be around. We’d like to meet you in person to chat about our plans and yours.