Today’s Artists Studio Organization, Becca Barnet takes a sneak peek into the taxidermy and fabrication studio of Sisal & Tow. We met last year when she contacted me for a little studio organizing help. Becca’s space was very workable but we put our heads together to improve and make her small space even more efficient. I have to confess I was hoping all the creatures would be tucked away and they were, her freezers of critters are all well organized and were out of the scope of organizing work:) Becca was a dream to work with, full of energy, great ideas and open to suggestions. I was fascinated to learn more about all the different work she does and you will love learning about how she works in her “Double studio” space. She’s constantly working on multiple projects and will be exhibiting at SEWE in the coming weeks. These photo’s are not styled because I’m here to share real artists working studio’s in process, so this is typical of what her studio looks like on an average day.
Artists Studio Organization, Becca Barnet Part I
HKPS::When did you suspect or know you were an artist?
BB:: My mom always encouraged me to do art even at a young age, but I distinctly remember in first grade thinking, “drawing is the best thing ever, I’m actually good at it.” I remember feeling comfortable in the art room and nervous when it came to math or other stuff. My friends used to ask me to draw them all the time, and everyone said in grade school that I was the best artist they knew. That might not be saying much, but it gave me the confidence to keep making drawings.
HKPS:: What materials do you work with? Do you find it challenging to locate certain things when you’re ready use them and do you store things frequently used in highly visible locations?
BB:: Right now I work with lots of different materials, some I can order easily and others I have to find/source. In the studio, everything has its own place and since there is such a variety of materials, it’s important to have them organized and visible. I have an assistant and it helps immensely that we both can see where everything is easily. When it was just me, it wasn’t as important, I knew where I put things, but it’s pretty imperative that everything has it’s home so that both of us always know exactly where to find whatever it is we need.
HKPS:: Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
BB:: I make my art out of my home, I have two designated rooms for art making. They are about the same size, maybe about 12×18. One is for messy stuff, and one is for design stuff, more drafting and drawing. I’ve been here since May of 2013.
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once? Is this due to space constraints, creative process, organizing systems or other influences?
BB:: “nervous laughter” Because all of our projects are usually progressing in different stages, we may have around 30 projects at any given time. Ranging in size from an antler plaque or bug box, to a piece of taxidermy, to a restaurant installation. We are able to do so many projects at once because not only is our work so varied, but we use every inch of our work space.
HKPS::Is making art your primary “job” or source of income? How much time do you spend in your studio weekly/daily?
BB::Yes, art is my job. I spend all day every day in the studio, even on the weekends. I should put a cot in there.
HKPS::When you began working in this space did you plan any systems for the overall set up or did you let things evolve organically? How did past studio spaces or systems influence this space?
BB:: The studio was not organized at all in the beginning. It was based on what fit where and less about what each items use was and the order in which I used the tools. Like, this is for taxidermy, and this is for painting, and that kind of thing (how it is now). My studio at school was really small, I essentially had a cubicle. And I didn’t have as many tools because I was a student. I think having a really small studio, and then not having a studio at all in New York, followed by essentially a closet at my next spot, got me used to working with and in small spaces.
Thank you Becca for for sharing how you use your studio space and store your materials! Read Part II where we reveal more from her about her creative process, tips and advice she has to share. In the meantime if you are in Charleston check out the lineup for SEWE which will be held February 12-14th in various venue’s downtown. Sisal & Tow will be in the beautiful new Gaillard Center or you can see more of Becca’s work on her website.
*The idea for the Inside the Artist Studio series began while attending an art retreat where I curiously observed the differences in the creative cycle of order and chaos and what that looks like for different individuals. I’m very interested in sharing how organizing affects the artist’s creative process. Some systems and order are vital to our creative PLAY and learning to find a balance that works to enhance your creativity is what I hope to share with you through these interviews.
Is there a particular artist whose ‘Tool kit’ you would like to see featured? Leave a comment below and let me know!