How to Create a Personalized Art Studio

A couple of weekends ago I spent the better part of two days sorting through the stuff in my home studio. By Sunday evening I emerged with a feeling of accomplishment: everything within the room had been sorted and stored in categories and I had two worktables cleared and ready for action.

lynn krawczyk art studio
Mixed-media fiber artist Lynn Krawczyk's studio
(shown in the Fall 2011 issue of Studios) has storage,
inspiration, great lighting, and plenty of work space.
But she'd be the first to tell you it doesn't
always look this clean and tidy!

Much, much more needs to be done. The paper category, for example, needs to be sub-sorted so I don't have to look through the entire bin to find the cancelled postage stamp with a castle on it I saved or the background pages I made last February. And although the yarns have been corralled in one giant laundry basket, some of the skeins are still hopelessly tangled.

But I made enough progress to consider: how do I want the studio to function and look? And then I realized I could take my own advice. Here is an interview I did when my book Inside the Creative Studio: Inspiration and Ideas for your Art and Craft Space first came out.

What makes a good studio? Are there a few essential elements?
At minimum, a good studio is any place that inspires you and allows you to work on your art or craft in a safe and efficient manner. Whether you set up a "studio" in a closet or a corner of your basement, or you have the luxury of a dedicated studio space, there are a few essential elements: a flat surface where you can spread out your work (fabric, mixed-media, painting, etc.), set at a height that makes it comfortable for you to sit or stand (given your preference); clear or labeled storage so you can find what you need quickly; a place to set items that are finished or in progress; and an inspiration spot or itemthis could be a pin-up board, a window, artwork, etc.  

How important in lighting?
Lighting is crucial for your art and your health. Poor lighting can lead to headaches and eyestrain. The most important kind of lighting is task lighting, bright light that focuses directly on your work. Natural lighting is also important for artists, because it's the best way to see colors truly. Artists tend to prefer north facing windows, as the light is bright not harsh. Finally, you need ambient light from table lamps, ceiling pot lights, etc. This kind of light generally lights the room, creating ambience and preventing shadows.

genevieve gorder art studio storage
Simple storage solution from HGTV's
Genevieve Gorder, featured in the
Fall 2011 issue of Studios.

Does a studio have to be well organized to function properly?
That is a hotly debated topic on our message boards! It seems to come down to this: If you create best when each time you walk into your studio the worktable is clear and all your tools and materials are right where you expect them to be, then yes. If you thrive when your materials are strewn about and you have to push them aside to find a spot to work, then "creative chaos" with no formal organization is the best way for you to function as an artist. I will say this, though, whenever we do a survey asking readers what kinds of articles they most want to see in Studios, "organization and storage ideas" always tops the list. My thoughtfrom personal experienceis, if you spend more time looking for your tools and supplies than creating, it's time to get organized.

Finally, how do you make a studio your own?
Althought there are "best use" guidelines, ultimately, each art studio is as different as the artist who creates there. Conventional wisdom might be that white walls are optimal, but if orange and turquoise sets your mojo on fire, go for it. If you prefer to work standing up, get a counter-height worktable instead of a desk. Small collections (or big ones), rotating "exhibits" of your friends' art on a string, a red velvet fainting couch for musing…whatever inspires you is what "should" be in your creative space.

Looking through back issues of Studios helps me solve problems and get inspiration for ways to organize and decorate my home art studio. Even though I have figured out what organization tricks work for me (see-through bins, for example) I always find some new trick, idea, innovative idea for upcycling, or clever color combination I never would have thought of.

The 2011 Studios CD Collection (containing the Ty Pennington issue) has some of my favorite studios in it. Having all four of that year's issues in one place makes it so easy to browse through them all, find exactly what I'm looking for, and click through to the resources and artists' blogs. If you don't have all of 2011's issues and you're looking to redo or refresh their studio, solve a problem or two, or just take in all the creative eye-candy, you should get the 2011 Studios CD Collection.

P.S. How do you personalize your own art studio? What makes it unique? If you don't have a studio, what would be your dream feature? Comment below!

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Art Business, Blog

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