Michael Clements Founder

Michael Clements is an artrepreneur, who synthesizes experiences in the arts, media and entertainment, tech, live events and business to form startups that disrupt traditional arts paradigms.




Washington DC


Paint and Sip




If paint and booze sound like a messy combination to you, that’s totally okay to Michael Clements. “It’s kind of fun to get your hands messy,” Michael says with a laugh. The founder and owner of ArtJamz in Washington D.C. wants you to remember that if you’re combining those two elements the goal is have fun - everything else is a happy accident. “It’s all really fun and part of who we are. Without entertainment and without creativity and without outlets, what do we do all this work for?,” he asks. We all work hard, now more than ever, so it’s even more important to take the time to rejuvenate ourselves. It’s up to us to take care of our bodies, but ArtJamz is there to help us take care of our minds and in some ways even our souls.

Throughout his entire working life Michael has always identified as an ‘intrapreneur.’ “I’ve always been pushing the envelope internally at the companies I’ve worked at. And I think I just got that itch,” he says. The itch was to start his own business and challenge himself in a new way, and he wanted to create something that he would love to be a part of every day. So he combined art with commerce and threw in a few bottles of beer.

ArtJamz was founded in 2012 to create a place where customers could walk out of their bustling lives and find a canvas ready to receive whatever they walked in with that day, whether it was a tough day at the office or a hectic week at home. The three ArtJamz studios offer a range of classes and free time where customers can come by and paint at their easels (or the walls of the studio), following a guided class or their own impulses. Plus there’s a fully stocked bar. “There’s a freedom in painting that you don’t get to experience in other parts of your life,” says Michael. “Art provides you the freedom to express yourself and an opportunity to put your brain on the sofa for a little bit and just decompress and relax.” Painting on a canvas is something we all know and understand, even if we don’t consider ourselves artists or have a little bit of anxiety about whether or not what we’re creating is any ‘good.’ None of that matters when you walk into ArtJamz. The instructors, who happen to be local working artists, are a support system for the customers, and ArtJamz is a support system for the instructors.

Michael wanted to make sure that he was taking care of his employees not just because he felt it was the right thing to do, but also because he considered it a investment. “We provide a place where our artists not only help you create a painting, but have multiple options to help advance themselves as artists in their own careers,” Michael explains. “If you have staff that are part of a team, that belong to a studio, that are not only just going there to teach but are also selling their art on the wall or trying to get commissioned pieces, the actual customer service will be better and that serves the business in the long run.” Michael has his eyes set far in the future and knows that the heart of ArtJamz is the relationships that his employees build with his customers every day. If he’s going to create a consistent customer base that keeps coming back he needs to support his employees. Michael is quick to point out that if he had to answer to shareholders they probably wouldn’t like this kind of an investment, but it’s something Michael isn’t willing to sacrifice.

ArtJamz is currently in the process of opening a fourth studio: one that utilizes all the lessons that Michael’s learned so far. He opened his current three studios by bootstrapping and financing them himself which was a tall order, but he knew he needed to make the next step a big one. And one that counted. There were a ton of financing options available for him and he spent years investigating them all. He found some great options, but the tradeoffs were not what he was comfortable entering into. When he found Bond Street everything fell into place. The interest rates and payment schedules made sense, but what was most important to him was how he felt with Bond Street. “Bond Street really singles out small businesses and creates community,” Michael said. “And I thought that aligning those two things was really smart and just made a lot of sense. I felt like I was joining a community.” It was all about the relationship. “I felt like Bond Street took the time to understand my business and where we were. It wasn’t just about a loan. And that, to me, was important.”

ArtJamz’s mission is that “We Want to Make the World a More Creative Place,” and when you step into their studio you’re helping that mission grow. Just don’t forget to visit the bar.

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