In today’s interview we will take a peek at art studio organizing with Tim Hussey. I’ve been following Tim’s work for a few years now, since moving to Charleston. He really came on my radar about a year ago when he was back in Charleston and we both participated in a local art event (called Awakenings::Solstice). Tim recently left gallery representation and has opened a private studio. His new space is open to the public, and his latest show Listing, is his first in this new Studio. I dropped by while the show was hanging but he’s also shared a few shots of how he works in his space. These photos are not styled so this is typical of what his working studio looks like on an average day.
Tim Hussey Art Studio Organization-Part I
HKPS::Please introduce yourself by sharing some or all of the following:
When did you realize you were an artist?
TH::I knew I could draw from very early on—as soon as I had motor skills.
I didn’t know I was an artist until maybe last year. It’s always a question in my mind, but lately I stopped judging whether I am an artist based on my output and realized that it’s a state of mind and a permanent fixed part of my existence.
What materials do you work with?
TH:I mix up oil, acrylic, house paint, graphite, charcoal, inks and collage.
How much time do you spend in your studio weekly/daily?
TH:: I am in the studio almost every day, but allow for days where I can bop around and gain new inspiration. I could live off of my income from art, at least as of late, but choose to have other income sources due to my expensive taste in food and motorcycles. It’s a hard habit to break.
Do you work in solitude/seek out solitude or enjoy company (music, other people etc)?
TH:I used to avoid music so it didn’t influence my work. I then started slowly letting AM radio enter the space—using small transistor radios. I did that for about 5 years. Now I know my process in a much stronger way—I have my own language and I am fluent in it, so I allow for any kind of music.
HKPS::Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
TH::I have a studio on upper King Street, downtown Charleston. It’s about 1200 square ft and the biggest I’ve had in years. I just moved in about 6 months ago. My smallest space was a baby room in a West Village apartment in NY.
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?
TH::By the time I moved into King Street, I had worked in over 12 studio spaces throughout the country. I have developed a good template now of how a studio should be laid out best for how I work. I can even take a mini travel studio to temporary spots and it’s a pretty thorough little kit.
HKPS::Do you use personal objects & memorabilia in your art? Do you collect mementos, found objects or other things that evoke your childhood or playful nature=sense of humor (ironic, kitschy)? What is their Value to you?
TH::I do have several boxes of old printed matter or handwritten journals– I find them at flea markets or auctions. They range from 20-200 years old.
There’s an attraction I can’t put my finger on exactly, I can only say that they are comforting somehow. There’s something about the proof of life before me that is encouraging and sad at the same time– seeing that through history we have felt the same mixed feelings, been rejected, mourned and used irony as humor. I like the idea of someone unknowingly collaborating with me after writing something that was meant to never be seen or to be only read once and discarded. There’s also something kindred about the nature of an old printing job– the way things don’t align and can be cut out and forced into environments that fit the advertisement. My work is meant to feel similar.
HKPS::Do these collections ever overwhelm you and if so how and when do you curate-edit them?
TH::They don’t overwhelm, as long as I keep them in boxes in a neat fashion. The more the better. I have held onto things for years until one day I find the perfect moment to incorporate them into a piece. And during that moment, I’ve never been so careful with placement — it’s their moment to shine after being stagnant for all those years!
HKPS:: Do you have a mantra, muse, mascot or area that you dedicate as an altar? OR-do you have any rituals, superstitions or routines you practice regularly in your studio?
TH::For fun, at most I keep a stack of artists books—whoever I’m enamored with at the time. But my main joy is napping, so this year I treated myself to a really cool couch and blanket to hide under. In all seriousness, I do need to lay down and sort of relax my focus (also known as staring into space) every so often. It’s my meditation– a way for my brain to kick into auto pilot and study on what I’ve just been painting. My unconscious is so much more effective than my conscious. If I sit and look at my pieces too long, I will overthink and lose my way.
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?
TH::I like my work to be owned by others—I don’t like to hang onto anything. For records, I prefer good books, catalogs, or at least photos. I am in the process of cataloging all I’ve done since 2000 and want to put out a new book in the next year. Otherwise, I use all archival materials, unless it limits me somehow. I don’t need to know my work will be around forever though. It’s about producing, being in the arts and using shows to travel and meet new people. I use art to feel satisfied inside and to open doors to new things on the outside.
In Part II Tim shares his tips on time management, storage and art studio organizing. You might also want to go to Tim’s new studio which opened during Piccolo Spoleto this past spring, check out the dates and times here.
*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!