Studios are by their very nature, inspiring. That's why I love getting glimpses into other artists' studios. Everything from the way someone organizes their space to how they decorate to what they're working on gives me ideas (and brings me joy -- what's a happier sight than someone doing passionate work, creating their art in a space that is uniquely their own?).
My own space is constantly evolving and I think that might be one of the things I love about it. The space, how I put it together, how I organize and use it are just as creative as what I'm making in that space.
I've shared my space before (here and here) but have been wanting to share it again and to talk a bit about creating (and revising) my studio space and finding inspiration in others' studios. I was recently inspired by WeWork to write just such a post (have you heard of WeWork? Beautiful shared workspaces in cities around the world designed not just to facilitate working, but to create community. They have an online magazine, too).
So, welcome to my studio! (I would love to see your studio space, too. If you have a blog post or photos of your studio somewhere online, please share a link in the comments).
I'm very fortunate to have an entire room for my studio. It's one of the upstairs bedrooms in the house where we live. I kind of have a lot of stuff. Craft supplies. Art supplies. Fabric. Yarn. Books. Magazines. Notebooks. Sketchbooks. Shipping supplies. Office supplies.
For a long time I thought that having a lot of stuff was necessary for a studio (and that therefore having a lot of space was necessary, too). I've come to realize that you don't need a lot of either in order to be creative or to make art.
Sometimes I feel a bit stifled by having too much stuff around (that's why earlier this year I made a point of decluttering and organizing). I try to keep everything put away in its own place.
Shelves, drawers, closets, cabinets... I use them all so I can always have plenty of open workspace.
Having open table space keeps my work flowing smoothly.
I use two long tables. The table in the middle of the room folds down when needed and the one along the wall (actually a door) has storage underneath. I like to spread out when I'm working, bring in inspirations for my current projects and be able to move from project to project, working on more than one thing at a time.
I used to keep part of one table reserved for sewing, but since I've been doing so little sewing my sewing machine is now stowed in the closet. Someday I'd love to have enough room for a permanent sewing space, but now I'd rather be able to spread out.
Although I like to have everything put away, I also like to have all my most-used tools and supplies nearby. One of my favorite organization solutions is also one of the cheapest: a nail in the wall.
I hang all my rulers on that nail and keep them directly above my cutting mat. So handy whenever I'm cutting and trimming things (which is often).
I also love my rolling cart from Ikea.
It keeps my tools and supplies within easy reach no matter where I'm working in the room (plus it's one of my favorite colors, making me happy every time I see it).
Surrounding Myself with Inspiration
I bring flowers and other bits into my studio as inspiration for my paintings and drawings, but I also keep some things around just because they bring me joy. The paper patchwork on the back of my desk at the entry never fails to brighten my mood as I walk through the door (see this post to see how I created it). My patchwork-backed shelf (find the tutorial here), a couple reminders in pieces by other artists (the print by Mati Rose McDonough says "Show the World Your Magic" and the two prints by Kelly Rae Roberts say "remember" and "create"), some colorful supplies and bits of nature inspire in one corner.
Throughout the room I hang a rotating collection of small paintings, lino cuts, sketches, images cut from magazines and other bits that make me happy.
It's as if the whole room is my inspiration board.
I like having reminders in the form of words, fortune cookie fortunes, handwritten or painted quotes, mantras and other inspirations.
I'm only at my desk when I'm doing computer work, but it, too, is filled with inspirations: books, notebooks, notes, art, photographs. (Even my computer brings me joy. My husband fitted out a vintage Mac with new parts so I could have a fun but also powerful computer).
My studio windows face south and west giving me good exposure for a collection of plants.
They provide inspiration for my paintings and help keep me sane during our long winters.
My garden outside is an extension of my studio and someday I dream of having a studio that's within my garden, or at least much closer to it than I am now.
The biggest challenge I struggle with is having enough light. Even with the two windows the room can get dark. It's hard to see well enough to paint without supplemental light (hence that chrome lamp on my painting table).
In January I painted my studio white to help make it brighter and throughout the room I've added lamps and other lighting (string lights and paper lanterns). I want to eventually replace the low-wattage lamps with brighter lights and switch out the ceiling fan for an overhead lamp of some kind.
There's always some improvements in the back of my mind, like replacing the plastic storage drawers with something sturdier (perhaps even building something like this or this to replace the door-table and storage drawers), hanging picture rails for quick and easy (changeable) displays and squeezing in a little bit of cozy seating (though I know who'd immediately claim the cozy seating as his own -- my studio is his favorite room in the house).
Eventually I'll get around to those things and others, too. My studio, after all, is a work in progress.
Inspiring Work Spaces
In the meantime it's fun to look at other people's spaces to see where and how they work. There is such a spectrum. I have a room in my home. Some artists have only a part-time corner tucked away. Some artists rent loft spaces or like those members of WeWork create in shared spaces in the middle of busy cities. Some have whole buildings in which to work and store materials and stock. Some have space for gatherings and classes. We can learn something from each of them, don't you think?
Here's a bit of inspiration to get you started:
Here's a bit of inspiration to get you started:
- My friend Dana Barbieri doesn't have a dedicated studio in her busy family home and yet she is able to claim time and space to make her art (read her interview in Marissa Huber's series Carving Out Time for Art to learn a bit about how she makes it work and get a glimpse of her space and her thoughts about it in this blog post).
- My friend Jaime Haney's studio sounds a bit like my dream studio. It's on the lower level of her house and opens out into her greenhouse and studio gardens (complete with koi pond!) where she finds constant inspiration for her art (Jaime shared four new videos of her studio and gardens on her blog the other day. You can see them here).
- One of my favorite things to discover and pin on Pinterest is photos of studio spaces. You can see my "studios and workspaces" board here.
- A while back I found this blog post featuring a little art space in the corner of a laundry room. A lovely inspiration if you're looking to claim a bit of work space in a family living area (take a look at Sara's sweet blog while you're at it, too).
- I love the story of how Amanda Blake Soule's studio (and her plans for it) have evolved over time and that she decided to keep it in her home so she could remain in the middle of family activity. Sometimes what you already have is what you really wanted (and needed) all along.
- Reading Where Women Create gives me glimpses into some amazing spaces and lots of fuel for my imagination (if you don't have access to the magazine, take a look at their Pinterest boards).
- One of my favorite articles from Where Women Create featured Lauren Decatur's studio. Rikki Snyder, the photographer for that article, shares photos of it here on her blog. That it's a cozy little cottage in the woods, surrounded by nature and gardens, is what makes it so appealing to me.
- The Etsy Community page regularly features inspiring workspaces, too, and stories about the makers who work there (recently this gorgeous stained glass cabin caught my eye. Imagine creating in a space that is itself a work of art!).
- It's also fun to look through the photos with the Instagram hashtag #inspiringworkspaces. So many inspiring makers. So many inspiring spaces.
What about you? Everyone, whether an artist or not, needs a space to work or journal or dream. I'd love to hear about (and see!) your workspace and learn where you find inspiration, too.