Going back through the past year’s 18 featured Artists I realized there are some amazing artist studio tips on organizing and productivity to be learned from these creative’s! If you missed one or more, here are the highlights. I am so grateful to get to meet these artists and be invited into their creative sanctuaries and I’m especially happy to be able to share them with you! From Maine to Charleston, New Zealand, to Switzerland it’s been an inspirational year interviewing these artists!
Cobalt Sky:: I am always out of empty (yogurt) paint cups!! I just got wise and switched to cupcake liners! My pillows hang to dry, so my space is very product specific. I have exposed beams in the studio, without them I am not sure how I could manage. Last winter when we renovated the space- everything went OUT and only pillow business stuff came back. Now I feel organized! Doing this for my work space greatly improved the whole business.
Everything gets put away and the work table is clear after every work shift. In Maine we call that “ship shape”.
Karl B::Most of my sewing supplies are attached to my work table or in the closets behind me. I keep my trusty shears in a holster on my belt. I learned which tools I needed to purchase or make and hung them from hooks on my worktable, the wall or made shelf space. For safety’s sake I always try to keep the the floor clean and first aid easily accessible.
Ruth D::For the number of quilts that get ‘churned out’ each year, my stash of fabric is actually reasonable small, and easy to access and sort through. It’s all located in the black crates which we use all through our house. They are large, sturdy, and stack on top of each other if we need to. I thrive on systems, and am always reviewing to help me work more effectively. I keep a calendar on my iPad, always have several projects scheduled in there, broken down into manageable tasks.
On her “stash”…I actually enjoy the challenge of working with a limited range of techniques and materials.
On planning her studio…Desks and storage around the perimeter of the room, under the sloping ceilings made complete sense.
Selinde L::I have always been one to finish things that I start before launching something new, preferring to work linearly. We do so much multitasking in our everyday lives now that I actually find this singular concentration therapeutic and even luxurious. That said, I usually have at least two journals and a sketchbook going at one time, places to store the myriad of ideas that pop into my head so that I can access them easily whenever I need to.
Jennythreads::Growing up, I was naturally messy, and my dad remembers nicknaming me “Tornado Jenny” because my room was always such a mess. When I was in graduate school iI worked for an antique repair shop. This place was absolute chaos inside, my boss would take tools from my work area or leave his messes on my table and it started to drive me crazy. Fed up, I covered my table with white butcher paper and told him it was off-limits. From him, I finally learned how inefficient and exasperating it is to spend more time looking for tools or supplies than actually working, and that’s when I started making an effort to be more organized.I LOVE to purge things regularly. I keep a constant Goodwill bag in the garage as things get edited out of the house. At the studio, I tend to keep more things around because they are useful. I keep some stashes, but I keep them under control.
Finkelsteins::I consider myself an organized person even if my techniques for organization only make sense to me. My habits happen organically through necessity. Systems occur due either to space availability or the need to contain a certain type of material. I try keep like items together so I’m not running around in the middle of a creative process tracking down ribbon or thread. My productivity really drops if I’m pulled away to locate materials. A tip that works for me, I try to stick to buying only supplies that I absolutely need. I use to buy materials because it was fun to raid the craft store. As my space started to fill I stopped myself from doing that. I have slowly purged my storage bins of things that just take up space.
The Pixeladies::Deb doesn’t like to throw anything away. “We might need it.” Kris was born to purge. Since we work together every day we learn from each other. Both of our fathers were career Army/Air Force officers. That kind of discipline obviously rubbed off on us. We both remember having to “put things back where you found them.”
Marlis E::No one ever taught me to de-clutter, it came naturally to me, probably because I’ve always lived in small apartments. I like to live in a minimalistic zen-like space where everything has its place and where there is a lot of space to breathe. Most of us creative people have hoarding tendencies. We are so afraid we might need something “later” that we pile stuff around ourselves “just in case”. For example, if you love to work with paper, but don’t enjoy working with glue, why do you keep 10 different brands and qualities of glue? Keep only what you love and what you enjoy working with.
Whitney K::I have always been a list-maker and have folders and books with everything written out. I have to have all my busy work finished in the morning- dealing with clients, commission emails, working with galleries, etc.- and then have a large block of consistent time to only concentrate on the actual painting. I do a big purge a few times a year. And I wouldn’t be able to live without a big old school calendar to see the month mapped out.
Hirona M & Alan J:: On storage…Alan-Organizing large drawings with flat files and storing materials came from my experience in architecture school and architectural offices. I’ve learned other habits through trial and error and looking for products that solve specific storage problems. I’ve also had furniture built to help with storage challenges. Hirona-I am very compartment oriented, if not organized in a traditional sense. I try to mark things, but sometimes materials are hard to categorize. Things that reflect light could also be things that magnify or are metallic. I’d say that I learned these methods from my parents. Both have very specific ways of fitting and organizing things that make sense mostly to them.
On schedules and systems…Alan-I have a Monthly Planner where I keep track of all appointments, deadlines and other significant dates. This is invaluable for keeping me on track and aware of what’s coming up. I also have a daily journal where I keep my daily To-Do lists and where I write down events of the day. Hirona-I don’t set a schedule for myself, I let the pressure of deadlines or genuine inspiration motivate me. By rotating my focus from piece to piece and seeing everything together I can keep tabs on my progress and regulate the pace I’m working at.
Morgan S::I like heavy items on wheels. My studio needs to be able to easily convert into a makeshift woodshop, a photo studio, a show space, a painting studio, and an office at any given time. If space is limited take advantage of vertical space and build the necessary storage accordingly. Building a large table on wheels, one that is specific to the studio space and my painting needs was important.
Heather AH::I like to know where to find things so I have developed my own systems for organization. For 7 years I had a studio that had a mandatory sprinkler system that propelled me down a path of using clear plastic boxes to organize and store materials etc. It allows me to see where things are and allows me to easily carry things to another studio and they are already packed for moving! Everyone is different and so it is best to be aware of how you work and support your innate logic and way of working. Whenever I see a “system” at another artist studio or home, I use it for inspiration and modify it to fit me. My studios are constantly evolving to suit my needs.
- Beth MS::All of my surfaces re recycled. We collect them from our daily travels. My husband brings many things home from his treks to rural places. We don’t have much of an organizational system but we won’t give up trying
On her legacy…I feel like what I’m leaving behind is more than a piece of art work…..it’s the idea of making use of objects that others might discard.
Jamie B-IBU::On inspiration…I’m surrounded by inspiration! We have a huge inspiration board that has great magazine photographs and clippings.
On knowing her limitations…usually work on up to three items at once. Any more and I might get un-organized in my thoughts and processes and be more prone to make a mistake.
Craig C::On his art…Things change. Very simply I would say I make systems and these systems are constantly being updated. A few years ago I had a very romantic vision of being a full time artist; I would sip tea and think in a bright colored robe. In reality I’ve never done that. I don’t even have a robe. I spend most of my time promoting what I’m doing and\or chasing new opportunities. Which is certainly not a bad life. I have always thought art could expand beyond the work.
When I was younger I had a great memory. I could remember whole tour itineraries not anymore. I save everything I can now mostly so I can show my daughter someday. But I’m also leaving myself a breadcrumb trail. I meet so many amazing people in my travels I hope to document them all.
On Sound + Light…I’m coming at this from a touring musician’s start, I deliver and install everything myself. I have created a life that allows me to pack the van and hit the road. I am very proud of the pack. I like the idea of space and how we can manipulate it.
Rob M::My paints are all in a central location, stored in my taboret. I don’t line my colors up in a row or organize my brushes but they’re all right there ready to go when I want them. I must admit I keep a lot of material that were passed down from my father, which I never use. I keep them around because they inspire me.
On staying motivated…the constraints in my mind sometimes say “why bother?” It’s then I remind myself, I’m painting for the ages and not just a quick sale in a gallery.
Karin O::Pencils, scissors, paint brushes are bouquets of art supplies in flower pots. I use my cool Lobo easel that can fold down to a table top for the fabric layer process. I have an L-shaped desk made of luan blank doors, sandwiched with a space that works as a flat file for paper, unfinished art, a wet palette, or anything to keep clear of my toddlers’ adorable fingerprints.
On time management…When I have a show or project coming up, I work 40 hours a week – 10 of which is in front of a computer, doing marketing, inventory, emails, and website stuff.
- 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.
Duke H::I am disciplined. The Creative process is work, nothing comes easily. I sit down and just do this (doodle and sketch). Never wait for inspiration to come to you. Just sit down and do it (that does take discipline!). I treat my art as a business, I keep files of expenses etc just to keep things efficient.
When it comes to archiving…A fellow painter died several years ago without archiving, it was a real mess. I have been serious about this for the past three years.
What have you learned or loved from the Inside the Artist Studio feature? Is there anything you would like me to ask or share from artists I interview in the future? Any artists you would like to see featured? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, I’d love to hear your ideas!