Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Perfect Studio

If you're the creative type you have probably daydreamed at least a little bit about your perfect studio.  Lots of open space, high ceilings, huge walls for pinning up work in progress and inspirations, acres of worktables, large windows (north-facing, of course), a comfy couch for a nap, lots of shelving for supplies, neatly labeled bins . . . .  ah, wouldn't it be grand?

In fact, there's a whole industry out there devoted to selling you on the mystique of the Perfect Studio.


Of course the messge here is, If you had the Perfect Studio, you could make Great Art.  The right space is a magical super-highway to brilliant creativity.   Conversely, if you have to make do with, say, a corner of the kitchen or space in the basement, then you're going to be hopelessly constrained and never make anything good.

Well, with all due respect . . . bullhockey!  Of course, having your own space is good, and more space is better.  It's great to be able to put your materials out and leave them there until the next time you can get to work.  No doubt.  And I know artists who swear by renting studio space separate from their homes.  Going to the studio, like going to the office, helps them get into a working frame of mind and stay there, undistracted by the chores, comforts and people at home. 

But my studio has always been in my home. In fact, for about seven years I did all my work on the dining room table.  I made full-sized bed quilts and a number of smaller pieces there.  When we had people over for dinner, I put everything away.  It worked fine.  Later my fiber professor told me she knew a professional painter whose studio was for decades a corner of the dining room.  And for years a talented jewelry artist I know turned out stunning work in a dungeon-like basement space, under the stairs, lit by a bare bulb.  She made gorgeous pieces that sold as fast as she could make them.  So: beautiful work does not require a beautiful studio space. 

For the past 20 years I've been fortunate to have a dedicated studio space, a room of my own with a design wall, some storage, work tables, and room for my equipment.  It's been wonderful.  But my studio hardly resembles the fantasies one might see on Pinterest or in magazines.  For one thing, it's a room without windows, about 10' x 10'.  No room for a couch.  One smallish worktable, placed on bed risers to reach the right height.

The studio does have this very useful shelf running around two sides of the room.  And there's a large wall I covered with foamcore where I can pin up work in progress, visible on the left.  And room for my sewing table and machine, currently buried under stacks of stuff.  (The machine is wearing a red cover in case you're having trouble locating it.) 

And I have storage, sure!  On shelves. . .

 on a re-purposed computer desk, a cardboard box, the sewing table. . .

in dressers, in clear plastic bins, on the floor. . . .

I haven't included photos of the odds and ends of space I've commandeered in closets (storage for supplies and finished work), other rooms (looms), and my office where all the business stuff happens.  No matter how much space you have, you always want more.

If you've been putting off pursuing your desire to make stuff until you have more room and more time--don't wait any longer!  Even a small space and a little time here, a little there, adds up.  Make the room, find the time, get going!

And please, share below what kind of studio space works for you. (Comments are now published automatically rather than being approved by me first.)  


  1. I agree with you, in part. There is no need for huge expensive beautifully manicured design space. But I do work better when my space is not cluttered. I enjoy it more and, as a result, I feel more creative. That's just me though.

    1. I know you're right, Martha! As I wrote this post I began to feel my studio is overdue for a de-cluttering. I also function better when things around me are tidy.