An Alief-born trio of brothers is shaping the future of Houston’s creative identity. Ira Ace, Seth and Steven Rogers founded Sanman Studios in 2018 and are on a mission to fill a void in the city’s art community.
Located off the I-10 freeway and nestled in the center of a strip of old warehouses, the 10,000-square-foot, open-concept studio hosts events and provides space for photography and video shoots.
Sanman, an acronym for See a Need, Meet a Need, has its roots in a mentorship program their father created in the 1990s. By following in his footsteps, the Rogers brothers have built a space that is stewarding artistic collaboration in Houston. In addition to its inclusive and affordable hourly rental rates, Sanman is equipped with lighting, A/V equipment and props that allow for creative project production.
Houston has historically struggled with connectivity and lacks accessible, communal spaces where artistic types can find each other. For the past four years, Sanman has worked to become a destination where creatives, especially those of color, can meet and mingle. However, the passion behind the studio’s mission might not exist if the brothers hadn’t left the city.
“At one point, we left Houston because we didn’t feel like we had a place where we could connect to others,” says Steven Rogers, 31, the eldest brother, whose roles range from creative director to production designer. “Now we have kids that come in here and tell us that they don’t feel like they have to leave anymore; they don’t have to go to Los Angeles or New York.”
During the day, the studio is bustling with photographers, stylists and visual artists working on projects like music videos, commercials and photoshoots. At night, it hosts these same players for some of Houston’s most popular underground events, from fashion presentations to art exhibitions, and hip-hop shows like Night Ride Experience and Deep Down South.
Seth Rogers, 28, who also handles creative direction and spearheads much of the day-to-day operations, attributes part of Sanman’s success to the increased need for in-person connection following months of shutdowns during the pandemic.
“People are wanting to collaborate and work more now. We need community, we need each other,” Seth says.
But for the brothers, operating the studio is just one part of a larger vision to meet the needs of Houston's creative community. Their other ventures include Concrete Club, a vintage fashion showroom that opened next door to the main studio in November; a nonprofit offshoot that manages an emerging artists residency program; a creative design house; and Native Tongues, a branch for music recording and production managed by Ira Ace, 25, a DJ/engineer and the trio’s youngest brother.
And, just like Emmanuel Alia’s creative agency, Prauper, Sanman has influenced the rise of Houston’s newer, Black-owned studio spaces, including Theory Studios in Third Ward and Omni Studios on Commerce Street.
Though the brothers have years more work ahead of them, they are committed to building for the next generation of Bayou City creatives.
“It’s a real team effort here, and we’re showing people they can do it, too,” Steven says.
Sanman Studios is located at 1109 Providence St. For bookings and more information, visit here.