It has become an annual tradition at The Arsenal, the San Jose art shop, studio and gallery space. Each year, a mixture of graffiti artists, tattoo artists, fine artists, illustrators and designers come together to showcase their work in a particular medium. This year the artists have been limited to pencil and paper for the “Graphite Show,” which opens this weekend.

“When certain parameters are set, you have to be more creative”, says Sean Boyles, co-owner of The Arsenal. The show will feature more than 20 different artists, including such notable San Jose artists as Mitzy Avila Ovalles and Joe To. Other artists include Mr. Wim, Brian Canio, and Nancy Ahn.

In spite of its narrowly defined medium, the exhibition space seems to know no bounds. Boyles and fellow artist and co-owner Roan Victor have transformed the unassuming shop on The Alameda into a key player in the South Bay art scene.  With a keen eye for art outside the mainstream and a passion for enlivening the local art scene, The Arsenal has become a place where artists can buy supplies and exhibit their work, as well as a space where they may hone their craft and teach aspiring artists in regular drawing and painting classes. The result is an environment that feels like a perpetual art opening.

“Since we carry all these materials, we have relationships with all types of artists”, Boyles says. In fact, Victor and Boyles, both working artists, are also featured in the upcoming show.

Victor’s piece is an astoundingly detailed, a wild mishmash of flowers and faces. It is symbolic of the varied and eclectic talent in the Graphite Show.

Usually The Arsenal completely transforms its gallery space to meet the needs of a given artist. This time, however, they are keeping things simple—painting the gallery walls a stark white to give further contrast to the monochromatic drawings.

One of the artists featured in show, illustrator and concept artist Tony Nguyen, is a San Jose local and longtime friend of the owners. “I was failing in all my college classes and somebody suggested an art class, a life-drawing class,” he recalls. “So I just went full force with that.” He ended up with a degree in animation and illustration before plying his trade making concept art in the video game industry. Nguyen, whose work is inspired by “anything that has a lot of life and energy” has designed art for popular companies like Zynga, and now works for a game startup in Miami.

Whenever Nguyen returns home to San Jose, he finds himself hanging out at The Arsenal. “I miss the Bay Area”, Nguyen says, “Any time I come back, I come by [The Arsenal]. This is where the roots are at.”