Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop Opens Soon — In Fairfield

As a child of the 1960s and ’70s, Mike Stuttman knew Westport when it was filled with creative artist-types, and was a marketing mecca too.

He followed both paths. After Staples High School and the Cambridge School, Stuttman headed to the Rochester Institute of Technology for photography. “I loved it, but I couldn’t make ideas appear,” he says. Along the way, he was exposed to animation. So when he transferred to the University of Colorado, he majored in…

…math.

(Coleytown Junior High School teacher Otilia Malinowski had sparked that interest, years earlier.)

Mike Stuttman

Mike Stuttman

Stuttman embarked on a long career in direct marketing. He worked in New York and, locally, for the Ryan Partnership and Barry Blau. For the past 10 years, he’s consulted.

But around 2008 — when the recession hit — his phone stopped ringing. Stuttman — who’d never lost his passion for animation and computers — had an epiphany: Photoshop was just like cel animation.

He taught himself the software. Then in 2010, on a whim, he applied to New York’s School of Visual Arts, for an MFA in computer art.

It was a wonderful experience. Stuttman — newly energized — particularly enjoyed his technical classes, using software like After Effects. “I learned the craft of making digital art,” he says.

Next came a vision: replicating a space like SVA, to offer digital art classes locally. He could fill it with talented instructors, and students who want to make art with animation.

Westport — where his politically active mother Dora had run the Top Drawer store, and his father Burt owned a direct marketing firm — was the perfect spot. Stuttman — who loved the river — even had the perfect name: Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop.

Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop

He searched everywhere for the perfect location. He could not find one.

Finally, space became available in the old Fairfield Department Store building. It was within walking distance of the train station (he thought most instructors would commute from the city). There were great restaurants nearby.

“I’ve become that guy: a Westporter who’s a Fairfield convert,” Stuttman says.

He’ll offer software classes in computer art basics, digital darkroom, digital storytelling, digital sound for artists, computer sound, animation, editing and post-production, motion graphics, graphic design and small business marketing.

Classes typically run once a week for 2 hours, over the course of 6 weeks.

His potential audience includes “self-identified artists, and aspiring and working creative professionals” is vast: photographers, film and video makers, painters, graphic designers, musicians, sound designers, animators, editors, compositors, VFX artists, podcasters, DJs, makers and coders — and “the curious and creative.”

Students will use 8 “sexy, great and fully loaded 27” iMac workstations.

As it turns out, Stuttman has found a great pool of instructors right around here. They won’t need the train.

“And they’re excellent teachers — not just accomplished professionals,” Stuttman notes.

So when he opens right after Labor Day, why will Stuttman’s Fairfield space be called Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop?

“I love rivers. The Saugatuck is not only in Westport, you know. I would have loved a red-brick, individual space. But it’s tough to find an inexpensive, small place in Westport.”

Besides, he’s not the only Fairfield business with a Westport name.

Saugatuck Sweets is around the corner.

(To learn more about Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop, click here.)


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7 responses to “Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop Opens Soon — In Fairfield

  1. Thanks for posting Dan–this looks like a “back to school” blast!

  2. Jack Whittle

    With that kind of pedigree (I’m referring to Coleytown + Staples + CU, no offense to the other fines schools he attended) Mike was bound to be a successful human being and businessman! Good luck Mike, I hope your Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop is a resounding success, good things come to good people. Hopefully you will return to Westport with your business someday ; )

    (From a fellow Coleytown, Staples and CU alum – who also benefitted from having Ms. Malinowski as a math teacher)

  3. Hopefully, the students at Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop won’t just be youngsters. When it comes to the “new” technology, any age is school-age!

  4. Here’s the website of a friend of mine. I think the readers will find this very interesting. http://www.singlehandedstudio.com

  5. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Miss Malinowski… I was fearful of her, probably because math wasn’t my forte! I spent most of the class time trying to figure out who she was outside of teaching, her background, hoping she was happy (why she wore a lot of black and her ankles creaked)… all mysterious to a young teenager.
    The best teachers are the most memorable, for different reasons.

  6. Lisa Lawliss

    Love it❤️😀👍

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  7. Good luck with this exciting venture Michael. Your Mom would be proud.
    Joyce Losen