UTSA alumnus-owned business: Spin Art Nation

UTSA graduate, Peter Carollo, co-owns paint studio

Sarah Ofsdahl, Contributing Writer

Atlanta-based art franchise, Spin Art Nation has made its way to San Antonio with a UTSA alumnus as a co-owner. With a mind for entrepreneurship and a passion for working with people, Peter Carollo has made a career out of providing people with unique experiences at Spin Art Nation.

Spin art, generally referred to as a type of “action art” or “action painting,” is a style of painting which intentionally emphasizes the abstract process of painting, elevating the artistic method to a component as essential as the finished work. 

The concept of emphasizing the process of creating artwork lends itself to practicing being in the moment; and Spin Art Nation under Peter’s direction and care ensures a carefree, creative and even stress-relieving moment.

Q: What did you study at UTSA? What was your major?

A: “Well, the major I finished with was communications. I started with education … and then I went into the business college … then I landed in communications, which I really clicked with more than anything else … I specialized [in] public relations, which I really enjoy.”

Q: When did Spin Art Nation open?

A: “We opened with Axe Master first, in December 2021, and then Spin Art [Nation] opened [in] March 2022.”

Q: What inspired you to open Spin Art Nation?

A: “[My partner is] the one that invented the whole concept and brand. I think the genesis of this kind of started as one TikTok video on a Russian YouTube channel or something like that, and he said, ‘This would be great in the States.’ He started to carry it over here and expand and kind of build [the] concept. I honestly didn’t understand it at first. Once we had the tables in and we got our paint I did the first one and I go, ‘Ah, okay. This clicks.’ There was this ‘Aha’ moment [and] I said, ‘Okay, this is really fun [and] stress relieving. It’s like a rage room. But without the rage.’ It’s still a really cool expression of creativity.”

Q: What is the most rewarding part about owning Spin Art Nation in particular?

A: “Oh man. Really being able to follow the whole process through. Yeah, it’s another Thursday to us, it’s just another party, we’ve had five this week; but to them, it’s their first time and probably only time, they’ll all be here together as a group, and they want everything to go really well. So, to be able to answer all their questions and relieve them and say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna handle this, all you guys have to do is show up, try to wear close-toed shoes, and then we’re good to go and we’ll take care of everything else.’ Being able to see that thing come through and eventually, about 20 minutes after they get here, they get to relax.”

Q: When you first started doing spin art, did you find the process particularly inspiring, or is there something about the process that you think is unique to art?

A: “[What] a lot of people say when they hear about anything involving the word ‘art,’ is ‘Nope, that’s not me, I am not artistic.’ I’m the exact same way. I’m performance artistic, [and] I am articulate, but fine art is not my forte. When I did this, for me, it was strangely transformative, that there’s no direction. I didn’t go in with a goal. I just got paint[ing] and started making a mess. And the great thing about this, if you don’t like it, cover it with more paint and start again. For me, that was really nice. I enjoy — and I think a lot of people here enjoy the process of making art. Where it differs is that [spin art] is something that you get to take home, that you’re actually proud to hang up. Not only was it fun doing it, but it looks cool. It’s literally the only piece in the world that looks like it. It’s super fun and it’s something that people wouldn’t necessarily expect. It just kind of goes back to that elemental kid phase when we played in the sandbox. There [were] no rules, and this is kind of that in adult form.”

Q: Is there a student discount?

A: “Yeah, why not? Let’s make a student discount. We [have] never officially had one but certainly, we can do a 10% student discount for UTSA students or really any college students. Bring a student ID and we’ll get them all set up.”

Q: Did you picture yourself as a business owner,?

A: “Yeah, absolutely. Entrepreneurship and having my own business was always an idea that I knew I enjoyed. In high school, I started doing magic professionally. It started out as a hobby, and then became a really expensive hobby, and then a hobby that paid a little bit, and then a hobby that paid a lot. That really opened me up. [Performing magic was a huge opportunity to really be able to see at a massive scale, how that business works and how people carry themselves while I still have my job to entertain.”

Q: What is the most difficult part of the business?

A: “It’s an entertainment spot. Inflation is going up [and with] talk of recession, entertainment is always the first to go. You’ve got hospitals, taxes, mortuary – those are all rock solid, not going anywhere. Entertainment is the first [to go]. That adds quite a bit of pressure. Luckily, we’ve had a great staff. We were able to give them more hours, that’s really important to me. But generally, making sure that staff is happy is a really big goal for me and that’s wildly difficult. Growing up and seeing how other staff worked and what we talked about [and] what was appropriate – it’s changed, and it changes with each generation.”

Q: How many employees do you have at this location?

A: “Right now, I think we have 10. We have a hiring event coming up that we’re really excited about. A lot of our staff works for Spin Art [Nation] and Axe Master and the mobile side. It really allows us to be able to give a lot of hours and opportunity – a lot of flexibility.”

Q: Do the instructors help with inspiration?

A: “Yeah, absolutely. Our spin artists over here, they’re really important to kind of start that experience on a nice level, where [people are] confident about what they’re about to do. There [are] a lot of different techniques, we provide [the customers with] different tools and their spin artist is going to walk them through and say, ‘Here’s everything that we have available to you. I can show you how it works and give advice.’ Like, if you’re going to use the pendulum swing, overload on paint. Use way more than you think you’re going to use because that’s gonna give that really cool water [looking] effect. Or the leaf blower – say if you do a lot of paint – especially white with any color or black with any color, the white is going to steal those pigments away and you’re going to get that really cool shaded smoky look. If [they] have any questions, we’re always one hand away and that’s our goal.”

Q: Are there specific life events or inspiring events that you would suggest as a good idea for students specifically to come in for?

A: “Back when I was a student – all the problems I had – nothing was focused on helping myself. I think that’s a great thing that’s come from this –  a lot of that self-care and mental health and I couldn’t be more supportive of that. I love that. The great thing about this [is] we have people come by themselves to throw axes or come by themselves to do spin art, it doesn’t necessarily have to be with a group. There is something really nice and stress-relieving about just being with yourself, pop[ping] some headphones in [and] not doing it for social media, not doing it for everyone else. I think a lot of pressure – especially nowadays – with social media is putting up that facade. And you know, look at this cool thing I’m doing. You don’t have to worry about that. There’s no pressure. Come by yourself, come for whatever – whatever floats your boat.”

Q: Is there anything else that you wanted me to ask you or that you would like to have included that I didn’t cover?

A: “I guess what’s coming next – what we’re looking for next, what we’re looking to do. A big request that we’ve been getting a lot lately is rage rooms. I love the concept, I love the idea. Myself and my partner, we’re always going to conventions and seeing what’s next. We really have to keep our finger on the pulse and then figure out the business later. Because that’s the cool thing about entertainment — normally work first [and] play later. With [entertainment], you have to play first – that’s important. You got to fall in love with it and say, ‘This is great,’ and then worry about the business afterward which is kind of counterintuitive. It has to be fun and then you can make a business out of it. Next year [there] could be a totally new thing that comes and sweeps the market, and it might only exist for two years, but we’re gonna be there.”

Spin Art Nation is located at 8015 Bandera Rd, Suite 105, San Antonio, TX 78250. Contact Spin Art Nation by email at [email protected] or by phone at 210-799-8505. Visit Spin Art Nation’s website at spinartnation.com. Carollo will have a table at the UTSA Fall 2022 Part Time Job Fair on Aug. 31. Peter Carollo’s other businesses including Mobile Escape Rooms and Mobile Axe Throwing can be found at https://poplme.co/magic0628.