Welcome to our third installment for Gina Lee Kim week! Gina is a talented watercolorist and mixed-media artist, and today she takes us on a tour of her studio, which features fun storage ideas, beautiful color, and lots of room to create! ~ Jeannine
An art studio, for me, is not just an area for art-making, it is a deeply personal and sacred space we give to ourselves. For the past 13 years that I’ve been a part-time watercolorist and mixed-media artist, my studio has evolved from a kitchen island to the dining table, from inside a linen closet to the corner of a spare bedroom, and finally, after purchasing our very first home, a renovated living room that is now an art gathering place. All creative spaces are tremendously precious and invaluable. They serve as incubators of ideas, a safe haven to dream, and a permission slip to play.
Sometimes, I would take my art studio outdoors while on a nature walk or sitting down at a café. The point is, an art studio, no matter how tiny or spacious, rented or owned, conventional or unconventional, is ultimately a symbol of self-care. It is how I tune out the rest of the world so I can begin listening to myself. And as a person who craves creativity, it was particularly important to find my own artistic voice. An art studio is how I began designing my life.
Once I had a dedicated art space, something within me changed. I took myself more seriously as an artist. I became a bit braver each day. I began submitting my artwork to magazines and built relationships with publishers. Sometimes my art submissions would get rejected, but it didn’t matter. I was grateful for the opportunity to do something daring in my life, and also that I had a physical place to return to… to start making art again. A studio setting gave me the room to grow and nurture a body of work. My wish is the same for you. Please honor yourself, your creativity, and your dreams. You don’t need a fully decked-out, custom made studio; a cleared corner of a desk will do. You just need a warm and inviting space with good intention. The world needs to hear and see your art. You need to hear and see your art.
Decorating a creative space can be a joyful, rewarding process. Here are some organizational tips that worked for me, and a few backstories/explanations to go along with it:
- Hunting garage sale pieces, flea market finds, and furniture marked for clearance is how I slowly built foundational pieces for my art room. Also, Ikea is my BFF.
- Bookcases and bookshelves serve as great vertical storage. I use stackable boxes and trays to take advantage of every inch of shelf space.
- Storage doesn’t have to be expensive or uniform. You can be eclectic, thrifty, and pretty with your storage solutions. I love any design that is both beautiful and functional.
- Color is everything. It’s been said that your outer world is a reflection of our inner world, but I think it works both ways. When I am surrounded by calm, beautiful color, my heart feels like it’s being hugged, and I get inspired to create. Maybe it’s a cyclical relationship.
- I embrace a super messy studio because it means I’m blissfully creating or panicking over a deadline. But in order for me to keep a consistent workflow, I spend a lot of time cleaning, tidying, and reorganizing my studio between projects. No matter how late it is or how tired I am, I make sure I leave my watercolor station all prepped and ready to go with clean water and brushes for the next project. It’s how I honor the space. I learned this honoring-of-space years ago in karate class. Whenever we entered or left the arena, we had to bow to the space as a sign of respect. Today, I may not literally bow to my art studio, but I do know how lucky I am. I make sure to respect my creative space and show gratitude by taking care of it.
- I love being a mixed-media artist and testing out new art supplies. Plus, a good portion of my art supplies come from companies that have asked me to try out their products. But after learning about the KonMari Method of organizing and streamlining, and listening to The Minimalist podcast, I realized where my anxiety was coming from. I was holding onto way too much stuff. Now I treat my studio organization as a game: If I can’t find a place for an item or if I haven’t used something in a while but it’s cluttering my mind or mental space, I donate those art supplies to friends, schools, or a local charity. I want to spend less time decluttering and more time making art.
- Throw an Art & Wine party! I do this about once a month in my studio space and it is a dream come true. I can comfortably fit six people, and no one has accidentally dipped their paintbrush in a wine glass yet. As a working artist and a mom, this it is how I fill my creative cup. Nothing blesses a space more than sharing your life and your art skills with others. I knew I wanted to create a studio to uplift people, but the universe has blessed me back a thousand fold.
Gina Lee Kim is a self-taught watercolorist and mixed-media artist with a background in biology and nursing. Her paintings are all about the color and texture found in the natural world. She loves to take the fear out of watercolor and incorporate mixed media. Gina’s vision is to make art that’s joyful and approachable. She currently lives north of Chicago with her husband and young son. Watch for Gina’s watercolor and mixed-media book, available early 2018, from North Light Books. Her videos on watercolor and mixed media can be found at northlightshop.com. See more about Gina on her website, ginaleekim.blogspot.com.