- Published: Wednesday, 28 January 2015 9:15 AM
It is 3pm on a sunny winter day in January, when I pull up to Studio 404 in my boss’ little blue car.
I’m meeting Ross Davidson-Pilon to chat about his photo studio and its recent conversion into a shared space for artists.
I pull up to the side of the building at 404 York Road and the parking signage stops me in my tracks. The signs are graphic and yellow and remind me of scuba diving flags, not parking signs. “The Really Big Boss” space is taken so I slip my borrowed car into the spot reserved for “The Big Boss” with a little smirk.
Until May 2013, Studio 404 occupied the entire 5000 square foot building, but after 34+ years in the commercial photography business it’s time for Ross to ease into semi-retirement. “Growing is much easier than shrinking,” he tells me, which on reflection, seems to be full of universal truths. The studio is still shooting lots of commercial assignments and the picture frame shop and digital lab are fully functional but Ross himself hopes to be fully retired by 2016 to focus on his personal art projects , teaching , and gallery shows .
Photo credit: all images © Ross Davidson-Pilon
This shift in focus, or “The Big Collapse” as he lovingly refers to this transition, appears to be more about a morphing of form and function than it does a collapse. Out of this, new opportunities for the creative community have emerged.
For many years Ross has been a supporter of the movement that has been working towards the creation of a visual arts centre for the community; it is no surprise that he has made this decision to open up his space to invite the arts community to share his success.
The once giant commercial photo studio has been divided to make room for a large open space that can be rented by performing groups and visual artists for rehearsals, workshops, classes and gallery shows etc. The rooms are equipped with laminate flooring, digital projectors and screens, track lighting, a full kitchen and surround sound. The building is fully accessible with free parking and has three washrooms including an award winning zen-like spa bathroom . The space is very inviting with a cozy ambiance. Ross jokes that Angus, from Ed Video, who is working in the kitchen behind us, "likes spaces that have lots of atmosphere".
From the second that you set foot in Studio 404, you know that you are in a creative space. There is visual art everywhere - from sculpture, oil paintings, watercolour and encaustic pieces all created by local artists. Even the chairs resemble something from a fighter aircraft cockpit.
Aside from the flexible workshop space, there are also two additional gallery spaces, a fully equipped photography studio and picture frame shop that are available for rent. Artists who show at Studio 404 galleries pay what they can afford - fees are very flexible as the studio’s mandate is to provide the local visual and performing arts community with an affordable safe space to showcase their talents.
Most of Ed Video’s educational workshops and programs are taught on-site at 404 York Road where community members can rent filmmaking equipment or use the fully loaded Final Cut Pro video lab for as low as $2/hr. This internationally renowned member-based charitable organization has been in existence since 1976 and is an integral part of the creative and collaborative community in Guelph.
I can imagine using Studio 404 for a weekend exhibition of new work, inviting the community in for an opening reception, and staying late into the evening to enjoy an intimate after-party by the side of the roaring fire.
If you have not yet discovered this gem of an arts space, make sure to reach out and say hello and see if the space could possibly be a match for you.
For more information or to arrange a tour at Studio 404 contact:
For more information about Ed Video Media Arts Centre contact: