There’s no question that Santa Cruz exudes creativity and is filled with artistic characters. The creative industry includes many talented designers, illustrators, photographers, videographers, architects, Etsy-based businesses, makers, craftspeople, musicians, dancers, and more. A 2011 Atlantic Magazine survey rated the Santa Cruz/Watsonville area as the 5th most artistic area in the USA.
We place a strong value on hand-crafted products and boutique services. This attitude comes through in the unusually high concentration of unique businesses operating throughout Santa Cruz. From large to small firms, home-based businesses, and solopreneurs, creative ventures are thriving here.
The creative industry has long been a resilient and entrepreneurial community. Since the early days of Santa Cruz’s founding, the community came together to learn and promote the arts. The first organization, the Society of Decorative Arts, was founded in 1885 to promote art in Santa Cruz through classes and the creation of a depot to display and sell art. This led to the creation of the Woman’s Exchange in 1891, and the Santa Cruz Art League in 1919.
The Arts Council, Santa Cruz County, headquartered in The Tannery Arts Center, has been a leader in arts promotion and the business of art for over 35 years. They pioneered the Open Studios Art Tour, which has been emulated by arts organizations across the country.
This affinity for the arts was further bolstered by the creation of UC Santa Cruz in 1965. The creative community responded to the first class of 650 students by opening businesses to serve these new intellectuals, dreamers and artists. Many students choose to stay in Santa Cruz after graduation. Fueled by the atmosphere of a small, liberal-arts college amongst the redwoods above the city, they become the next wave of creative professionals.
Graphic Design Firms
Art Galleries & Studios
Just the Type: Sentinel Printers Is Local All the Way
From finding ways to provide environmentally sustainable printing options, to their dedication to paying a living wage to employees, to their promotion of supporting other local businesses, Sentinel Printers is a Santa Cruz business that thinks local.
In Depth: Tejal Sood, Bayside Hotel Group
Last summer we had an opportunity to interview local hotelier, Tejal Sood. She and her family have been in the lodging and tourism industry here in Santa Cruz for decades, and they are up to some great things!
The human genome was first mapped at UCSC, and the University remains a leader in the genomics field. The discoveries and research conducted at UCSC have resulted in the creation of several private genomics based companies.
The presence of creative and artisanal goods has promoted a range of retail offerings from boutique outfitters to world-renowned international brands.