Today we look into Art Studio Organizing with Mary Carol Koester of Azalea Bindery who I met while in Asheville back in January. She was introduced through a mutual friend and I was excited to be able to visit her working home studio and meet her in person while I was there. I’m so happy to share this sneak peek into Mary Carol’s studio. These photo’s are not styled so this is typical of what her working studio looks like on an average day.
Art Studio Organizing with Mary Carol Koester Interview Part II (see see Part I Here)
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once?
MCK:: When I’m making books, I usually working on 3-15 projects at once. Some are individual orders and some are production orders. When I’m marbling paper, due to the process, I have to stop all binding work.
HKPS:: Do you notice cycles or phases of projects that are more or less organized in your creative process?
MCK::The process of what I make definitely has different phases which are defined by time. Things have to dry for several hours or overnight, machines have to heat to just the right temperature. These types of things dictate the daily flow of work. Design cycles happen at their own pace, something or someone just sparks an idea.
HKPS::Do you think your creative success and or your process is helped or constricted by discipline? Do you find that limitations or boundaries can help fuel your creativity?
MCK::I find discipline comes naturally for me, although, I, like most artists, have to triangulate the job before I dive in. Sometimes, if the work is difficult, I will stop often and walk around. My favorite definition of creativity is “confusion endurance”.
HKPS::Do you set any self imposed limitations? Is there anything you intentionally don’t have in your studio due to distraction?
MCK::I wish I could ditch the m&ms but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Mary Carol-Part II
HKPS:: How or did you learn your organizing habits and systems? Do you consider yourself to be organized or alternately do you tend towards hoarding stuff?
MCK::I’m organized by nature and I have always had to have a clean work area to begin. I find as I work, things get scattered about and I occasionally stop and reorganize. I use glue constantly so I have to be careful of every surface all the time. I’ve worked out some ways to minimize glue “fairies”. At the end of the day, I will clean up what is necessary and then wipe down the tables before I start binding the next morning.
HKPS:: Do you purge, clean or de-clutter your supply stash and space on a regular basis?
MCK::Yes, I do, but only when needed. I still keep a higher supply level than I’d like of some things, esp. decorative papers. Although, I don’t follow this advice to the letter, I still keep it in mind, “Only keep what you need to get the job done, everything else must go”.
HKPS:: What tips can you offer regarding your use of schedules, systems, tools or processes that help you maintain organization in your studio?
MCK::Artist:: The most important thing I learned with NC State is that you really need systems to stay in business. Once those systems are established, you need to keep them functioning. After you start hiring help, it becomes esp. necessary that everything, and I mean everything, has a home which is clearly marked. If not, you both will lose productive time which translates into costly waste.
Thank you Mary Carol for for sharing a bit of your personal creative process and your organized and productive studio space! Mark your calendars to go see her work in the Asheville area (Weaverville) at Art Safari May 7-8. I hope you were inspired by her space and found some creative organizing tips to use in your own studio!
*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!