Today’s Interview is the second half of blog series, Art Studio Organization with Stephen Elliott Webb who I met as I was a panelist for a talk on organizing as part of the creative process. He currently has an show at Mitchell Hill so you can go see his work in person! I’m thrilled to share this sneak peek into Stephens new “tiny” studio and have him share more about his process and creative space. These photo’s are not styled so this is typical of what his working studio looks like on an average day (go see for yourself next time you are at Redux!).
Art Studio Organization with Stephen Elliott Webb-Part II (see Part I Here)
HKPS:: How or did you learn your organizing habits and systems? Do you consider yourself to be organized?
SEW:: By sheer necessity, I am organized now. Not so much with paper and bills at home, but here…yes.
HKPS:: What tips can you offer regarding your use of schedules, systems, tools or processes that help you maintain organization in your studio?
SEW::I think one of the very best pearls I can offer is “make sure that your space can handle as many steps involved in your process as an artist as possible”. My desk, where the support of my web presence and all correspondence about my art career, is mere inches from where the work is created. The photography happens right beside that. The framing happens on either of my two large surface tables. This helps create a more seamless flow between the steps. Making work surfaces / spaces “multi-use” is paramount. Scheduling framing and other supply deliveries around having dry space to put them and work with them is key.
I believe that you should only buy tools once. Buy it well, buy it right, take care of it, and it will take care of you. Some of the worst mistakes I have ever made were a direct result of being cheap. “Cheap” only costs you in the end. Cheap means buying a lower quality. Frugal ( or simply being smart ) means you bought good things at an even better price. A dollar is, after all, still a dollar.
HKPS:: Do you purge, clean or de-clutter your supply stash and space on a regular basis?
SEW:: Clean…yes. I keep a vacuum plugged in and at-the-ready. There may be paint splatters on the walls and tables, but that only means I had fun putting them there. All of my other surfaces stay pretty clean. It all goes back to my “getting ready for a date” analogy. As far as supplies are concerned, I find that making use of every single paint or material I have makes me think outside the box as an artist. You teach yourself new techniques when stretching old supplies or experimenting with new ones.
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?
1. An original Nancy Drew painting is always there to keep me from taking life too seriously
2. I bring in my portable Bose speaker to make sure that music, which is ALWAYS playing in my studios, sounds really good.
3. Everything I cook to eat or drink in my studio is organic. The food itself makes me feel physically healthy. The idea of keeping it all organic reminds me that I am doing all of this, the painting, the sculpting, the career in general to be all that I was meant to be, for myself and my family.
HKPS:: Do you notice cycles or phases of projects that are more or less organized in your creative process?
Artist:: Yes. My preparation of my canvases is very methodical. Several steps are taken before any color ever hits a canvas. I wish my paint storage was a little more categorized and more within arm’s reach, but I think I will tackle that part of this studio after my current show.
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?
- A lot of thought goes into all of this.High quality digital photography is done of each piece, with lighting being a strong consideration.
- I catalog each piece on spreadsheets that are shared with each gallery / space that displays my work.
- For every piece that is sold, I create a customized “Provenance Package” for the collectors that contains Certificates of Authenticity and Insurance Values, along with a photograph of each piece with dimensions, dates, and media used. (Brilliant Tip Stephen!)
- EVERYTHING is saved in 2 separate places in “The Cloud”
HKPS::What if anything did you learn about your own organizing process through this interview?
SEW::It has made me take stock in the thought process I went through to make all of this work. Thank you.
HKPS::One last note about Safety (see his white board above “No Fumes”)! Stephen created this great ventilation “Attic Fan” for his small space. You can never be too careful with your health!
Thank you Stephen for for sharing tips on how how you use and stay organize your new tiny studio space and in your art practice! Stephen’s newest series “SHELL SHOCKED” is up through March 30th at Mitchell Hill Gallery in Charleston, go check it out!
*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!