Today we take another peek In the Arrowmont Studio with Austin Riddle. I visited Austin at Arrowmont in August where he shared details about how he set up and organized this pottery space for his 11 month residency. Austin shares insight into his studio habits, when and how he keeps tidy and organized and where he learned these habits. None of the photo’s of his studio are styled, what you see here is typical of what his studio might look like on any given work day.
Austin Riddle’s Arrowmont Studio Part II (see Part I here)
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once?
Austin:: I make my work one firing cycle at a time. A kiln load can have anywhere from 100-200 pieces of pottery depending on its size. During this making cycle I work through multiple sets of forms at the same time, allowing each set of pots to reach its ideal dryness for completing the next step.
Austin:: I always find myself searching for certain tools. I have recently tried tidying up my studio at the end of the day, putting all my tools back in my toolbox. Having all my tools in one box seems to eliminate a lot of searching.
HKPS:: Do you notice cycles or phases of projects that are more or less organized in your creative process?
Austin:: When I’m getting ready to load and fire the kiln, near the end of a making cycle, things always seem to get a little messy and unorganized. This happens because I’m usually pushing to get a firing done before a deadline. Once the kiln has reached temperature and is starting to cool I spend the next day or two tidying up the studio in preparation for the final clean up of the fresh pots. I also take advantage of this down time to start preparing and setting goals for my next firing.
Austin:: My artistic practice is definitely fueled through a strict discipline. This discipline is a direct correlation to the far-reaching expectations I set for myself. There were times in my life where I was working full time, going to school, and making pottery. During this time I learned to be organized and disciplined and formed habits that transferred to my studio practice and my pursuit of a successful ceramics career. I believe great things can happen through setting goals and having enough discipline to achieve those goals. HKPS::Do you set any self imposed limitations (to your schedule, material use etc)? Is there anything you intentionally don’t have in your studio due to distraction?
Austin:: In the past I have tried to make work while catching up on my favorite television shows. This ended immediately after making the realization that it took me twice as long to complete the same task while having the television on as it did without. Now I keep them separate and I use television as a reward system after a long productive day in the studio.
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?
Austin:: I consider myself very organized within my physical living and work spaces, but not so much when it comes to electronic correspondence or computer work. The desktop on my laptop is embarrassing cluttered, but is easily hidden with one downward motion. I learned to be tidy, clean, and organized through chores as a child. When my spaces are clean and organized I find I have less clutter in my headspace, which makes room for productive thinking in the studio.
HKPS:: Do you purge, clean or de-clutter your supply stash and space on a regular basis?
Austin:: When I find myself slipping or distracted, I often deep clean my living and studio space. This practice puts my mind at ease and makes me feel like I have less on my plate. I have a habit of keeping bad work for way to long that should have been thrown away directly after unloading the kiln. But on the flip side there are times where learn a lot from keeping those rejects around the studio. It’s a constant struggle.
HKPS:: What tips can you offer regarding your use of schedules, systems, tools or processes that help you maintain organization in your studio? Do you use sticky notes? How/where?
Austin:: My favorite trick for being productive is setting aside a half hour before bed to plan out the next day. I write down a list of things I want to make or finish up in the studio and also a to-do list of non-studio related obligations. For me, this practice eliminates those awkward “what am I gonna do today” conversations I have with myself first thing in the morning, which saves an incredible amount of time. Thank you so much Austin for sharing your ideas, space and tips on time management, storage, and studio organizing systems/tools. Check out Austin’s work on Instagram or if you’re in Gatlinburg, stop by Arrowmont to see his studio (during open studio hours please:)! Austin is also busy preparing for the Utilitarian Clay Conference (September 21st-25th) and an upcoming show in Knoxville!
*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 le