The Alpha Workshops was founded in 1995 in the Chelsea area of Manhattan and modeled on the famed Omega Workshops, the Wiener Werkstätte, the Bauhaus, and the American Arts & Crafts movement. The multi-faceted organization encompasses The Alpha Workshops Studio School (AWSS) and The Alpha Workshops Studios, an award-winning professional design and decorative arts atelier staffed exclusively by AWSS graduates.


The AWSS is the only nonprofit vocational training program in the decorative arts in the state of New York for individuals with visible or invisible disabilities and other vulnerabilities including HIV/AIDS. The AWSS assists adults in reclaiming and refocusing their lives by embracing the powerful healing tools of meaningful work and creative self-expression.


Licensed by the state of New York, the AWSS provides a vocational training program that includes classroom instruction and an internship/externship.

Total Duration: 24 weeks (18 weeks of instruction + 6 weeks of internship/externship)
Days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
Time: 9:30am – 5:00pm

Overview: This program includes a project-based course and internship/externship experience that will teach students about the history and current practices in, and application of, Decorative Arts. The program also provides direct individual and group instruction as well as employment planning and work-readiness for careers in the Decorative Arts.

Students will learn the fundamentals of surface preparation, color theory, faux finishes, traditional transfer and enlargement technique, Venetian plaster and other troweled materials, gilding, wallpaper stamping, stenciling, architectural drawing methods, and mural-making. Students will also learn Professional Practices and assemble a finished portfolio which will be reviewed periodically and presented in the final week of class for the students’ Portfolio Review.

The program intentionally designed to enable students to see, understand, and analyze the foundational aspects of visual art and the creative process more deeply. Understanding the above elements and principles will help students begin to develop technical skills and artistic concepts. Although it is not required, it is helpful for the student to be familiar and comfortable with basic math and an Imperial ruler. It will also be helpful for the student to actively maintain a sketchbook or artist’s journal.

The six-week unpaid internship or externship takes place either in the Alpha Workshops Studios or in a complementary interior design firm that partners with the AWSS to offer our students work experience in their firm. The internships consist of hands-on work ranging from assisting in the AWSS Wallpaper Department, Fabrications and Finishing Department, or within the School itself. The externships consist of opportunities within art-related companies or firms such as decorative painting companies, galleries, wallpaper manufacturers, framers, gilders, and interior design companies. Projects may include executing painted treatments in residential or corporate interiors, setting up for trade shows, organizing samples, preparing presentations, and carrying out other daily tasks.



Prior experience in the arts is not required. In order to be eligible to apply, you must:

  • Have a disability, defined as any visible or invisible, physical or mental, impairment that results in a substantial impediment to employment;
  • Have a desire for vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, secure/regain, and retain employment, and can benefit in terms of an employment outcome from the AWSS;
  • Be able to provide proof of US citizenship, permanent residency, or otherwise able to work legally.
  • Be at least 18 years old.


For further information and to apply to AWSS: