Welcome to 2014!! Today’s a special Double Feature day Inside the Home & Studio of my dear friends Sarah and Brad. I met Sarah and later Brad, while attending college at SCAD. Sarah and I were both fibers majors, both focusing on weaving and we have been fiber friends ever since. She is a very talented weaver and woven textile designer for her industry job at Pure Country Weavers. Brad, Sarah’s husband is a talented painter and more recently has embarked on a career working with illustration for the comic book industry. His most recent work is as a colorist for Marvel and you can see some of the work he’s done here. This creative husband and wife team bravely sold almost everything they owned and moved out to San Francisco about 5 years ago. These days they both work from their home and have learned to live a more simple life, in less space and value what is truly important to them.
HKPS:: At what age did you realize you were an artist?
Sarah – I never had an “aha!” moment where I declared myself an artist. As far back as I can remember, I was just always innately drawn to arts and crafts. Growing up in the mountains of East Tennessee, a lot of my parents’ friends were artisans of varying crafts and media, so I think that greatly influenced me.
Brad – I realized by the time I was 4 years old. I would draw all day and often go through those 200 sheet school notepads in one day.
HKPS:: What medium(s) do you work with?
Sarah – My main medium is textiles, more specifically weaving, but I love to dabble in drawing, painting and collage too. I work as a designer in the textile industry, so I spend a lot of time on the computer working mainly in Photoshop.
Brad – Currently, I work in the comic book industry as a colorist, so most of my work is digital. I use Photoshop and Corel Painter. I’ve done a lot of work in oil painting, but my favorite medium is watercolors.
HKPS::Where do you make your art & how big is your space?
Sarah – I work all around my home. There is no official studio space, instead my home and studio are integrated. This is necessary living in the bay area where living space is greatly limited. Our furniture has to double duty as art supply storage and work surface.
Brad – Living in small apartments over the past 6 years has taught me you really don’t need as much space as you think.
HKPS:: Do you consider yourself to be an organized person?
Sarah – I’m fairly organized, but I’m not overly concerned with it. Over the years, I’ve become more relaxed with organization. Most of my stuff has a drawer or a box or a shelf where it belongs, but that’s about as far as my organization goes.
Brad – I’m an organized person out of necessity. I have various deadlines on a weekly basis, and I have to keep track of these obligations since I work for myself. With my personal art like painting and drawing, I’ve always taken an organized approach with my time management and layout of materials.
HKPS::How/Where did you learn your organizing habits and systems?
Sarah – My family was incredibly unorganized growing up, and I think that initially drove me to become extremely organized when I left for college. I guess I’m self-taught. However, I found myself being stressed out by keeping everything so orderly, and over time, I’ve learned to lighten up a bit and find a more balanced approach to organizational habits. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.
Brad – Early on in my life, I struggled with learning disabilities and I was extremely unorganized. When I went to high school, I had some great tutors that taught me some organizational techniques that I still use daily.
HKPS:: What types of cycles have you notices in your working process? Are there certain phases of projects that are neater or more disorganized?
Sarah – I actually work very organically. The more organic I work, the better my art turns out. I like to be spontaneous with minimal structure and planning. It’s where my magic happens.
Brad – When I have multiple deadlines with a hectic schedule, my working process becomes disheveled. So after a deadline or heavy work cycle, I take time to reboot and reorganize my space so I can start fresh.
HKPS:: What types of schedules, systems, tools or tips do you use to help maintain organization in your studio?
Sarah – I now use my iPhone for all task organization – list making, calendars, reminders etc.
Brad – I use gmail and all it’s features for most of my planning organization, however, I still like to make a list on paper with daily objectives.
HKPS:: What materials/tools do you find challenging to keep organized or locate when you need to use them?
Sarah – Having such a small living and studio space, I can’t hoard materials/tools. It actually influences me to be more purposeful with what I’m creating and less wasteful. And the added bonus is that I can locate my materials easily.
Brad – Physically, I don’t have any challenges with keeping my materials and tools organized. However, in my line of work, I have a tremendous amount of digital files that have to be catalogued. I find this to be extremely difficult.
HKPS:: How often do you purge or declutter your supply stash due to space or other constraints?
Sarah – Living and working in a small space requires constant purging of supplies. I evaluate my supply needs every couple of months or so. There are so many great re-use/scrap centers in the bay area, which is where I donate my purged materials. I also shop for new supplies at these reuse centers. Nothing goes to waste!
Brad – Every couple of months.
HKPS:: Please describe how creative cycles of organization or disorganization affect your creative process.
Sarah – As I stated previously, I work best in an organic state, so things can get messy. But I have to be respectful of my shared space with my husband, so I can never let it get too out of hand. This is where a separate studio space would be beneficial to me some day. But working with space restraints is a necessity and has been beneficial too. Living in my studio space keeps me constantly engaged with my art, a continuous creative hum to my daily living.
Brad – I begin my creative process in an organized state, but gradually as a project unfolds, my space becomes more cluttered. However, this doesn’t affect my productivity. After I’ve completed a project, I regroup and organize.
Thank you so much, Sarah and Brad for inviting us into your home and providing us with the photo’s and your responses. Each have shared some great insight and it’s fascinating how they both approach organizing and how plays into their creative process a bit differently. Living and working from home can be challenging and I’m certain these two have both had to evaluate and re-evaluate what it takes to stay successful. They have certainly created a beautiful and functional living and working environment. They will soon have the addition of a wee little one, congratulations!
My greatest wish is that through seeing how other artist work we can learn from one another. There is no ONE correct system or way of organizing. There are as many creative systems as their creative makers! My aim is to highlight these unique makers in each interview. A HUGE thank you to each one of this year’s artists for inviting us into their studio and sharing their systems and how organizing affects their creative process. There will be more to come next year and I’m working on ways to share this feature via other avenues. I am also planning to expand the series to include other sneak peek interviews into creative small business sometime around mid-2014. If you missed any of my previous Inside the Studio posts this year please go back and take a look!
* Inside the Studio was my brainchild in 2011. There are a lot of popular studio features on the web and in magazines but I’m specifically interested in showing how organizational process influences the artists studio work. These photo’s are not styled and are typical of how the artists working studio looks. I request that each artist leave their space as it would be on a daily basis (just like I ask my clients). This series is meant to highlight how artist REALLY work rather than showing STYLED shots (popular in home and organizing magazines and blogs). I’m sure just like me, you are fascinated by the “behind the scenes” sneak peek into these artists working lives!