Today we take a sneak peek Inside the Studio with Karin Olah, a Charleston, SC artist. We met through mutual artist friends in Charleston. She just had an amazing show at City Gallery of her paintings that incorporate textiles (LOVE). You can still find her work at Corrigan Gallery in Charleston. I’m thrilled to share Karin’s studio organizing tips and have her share her more about her process and creative space in this interview. These photo’s are not styled in any way, in fact the visit was totally unplanned and spontaneous so this is typical of what his working studio looks like on an average day.
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.
Interview and Studio Sneak Peek Part II
Miss Part I?—->See it Here
HKPS:: How or did you learn your organizing habits and systems? Do you consider yourself to be organized?
KO::I’m that girl that gets stars in her eyes at a container store or in the shelf department at Ikea. I love cubbies, compartments, and knowing things have homes. I’m a visual learner and can recall where things are when they are organized. To answer your question, yes. Sometimes my organization method looks messy, but it makes sense to me. I have a tendency to hoard cardboard boxes and have to keep myself in check. Kinda strange and stingy, But when I ship a big painting and I can do it complimentary for my collector, I pat myself on the back for keeping that damn cardboard box for over a year.
- I buy the frames for a show before I make the art.
- I know my car measurements and space limitations.
- I create a worksheet of blank canvas inventory and fill it in as I go.
- I write out a to-do list of the steps and layers of a work in process. Then I check in as I go and add to the list.
- I have weekly/monthly/yearly goals. When I put it in writing, I feel that I must live up to it.
- When possible, I enlist help from friends to keep it fun (installations, mix cd’s, title-ing).
- Family hikes and beach trips double as scouting missions for future landscape paintings.
- I cut up bad paintings to make into gifts and thank you cards.
- When I clock into the studio, I limit distractions of phone calls, snacking, kids, email, etc.
- Baby wipes are my go-to savior for wiping into wet painting, quick clean up, and dealing with my sticky glue-ing process.
Karin Olah Studio
HKPS:: Do you purge, clean or de-clutter your supply stash and space on a regular basis?
KO::I clean up as I go. Only when moving out of a studio space, do I purge. I find new homes for unused frames, sewing stuff. If a painting hasn’t sold after 6 years, I sometimes soak the fabric off, sand it down, and start it over.
HKPS::Is there anything you keep in your studio strictly for fun or inspiration? Is there anything you intentionally don’t have in your studio due to distraction?
KO::I have photos of friends and family, and silly gifts, love notes, my kids’ art, paint charts for color inspiration, home design magazines, and art I made in elementary school and college (as reference for how far I’ve come). And my Labradoodle keeps me company.
HKPS:: Do you notice cycles or phases of projects that are more or less organized in your creative process?
KO::After a realism series, I return to abstracts, and then repeat. It keeps me loose and adaptable. My palette and dye colors change with trends yearly. Between shows (if that ever happens), I take a month off to catch up on family time, vacation, and marketing. My floor is usually covered in tiny fabric trimmings in a beautiful mess.
HKPS:: How much thought do you give to your artistic body of work in terms of historic value and the overall legacy you will leave behind? How do you store/archive your work or records?
KO::I keep my inventory in a blank journal and in my computer. I learned the blank journal trick from my mentor, abstract artist Eva Carter. I note what shows, galleries this piece has been in, if someone liked it, if it was in a magazine, the collector’s contact info, and sales info. Everything is numbered and I can instantly pull up a random painting from years ago and know it’s whole life story. I use archival materials and products. I attempt to keep a favorite painting from each series in my personal collection. Or at the very least – I gift it and keep it in the family.
KO::Wondering where I can improve but also proud of my process, my organization, and my tricks. I’m lucky to have this studio and thrilled to share it.
Karin thank you so much for for sharing how you organize your space and your great tips for storage of your materials! A couple last ideas I want to point out are her clever use of two doors (with a storage space between for flat work and palettes) to create her work surface and her simple sorting of materials by category , color and size (for her fabric, scraps, paints and dyes), all great ideas! If you are in Charleston, go see her beautiful work, ongoing at Corrigan Gallery.
Is there a particular artist whose Studio secrets & tips you would like to see? Leave a comment below and let me know