Studio Space – A Place to Call Your Own

Studio Space
Sirima Sataman’s workspace as seen on design sponge.com

How important is studio space to creating the art you love? What impact does it have on your work? To some of us, the surroundings are vital to success…to others, the impact is minimal.

I know people who’ve made art in basements, in garages and at kitchen tables. I once made a mosaic bench on two saw horses and an old door (the table) in a falling down gazebo.  I’m sure others have created in stranger places.

It’s interesting our preferences, and the excuses we can use to NOT create. For instance, I have a friend who has been delaying art-making

Studio Space
Claire Basler at work – Buddhabrot

until she has a “proper space.” It’s going on 3 or 4 years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pointing any fingers…just observing.

I’ve found some spaces are more inspirational than others. I used to share a studio space that had previously been used by a very renowned artist. I expected an infusion of juju that couldn’t be beat down with a big ol’ stick, but that never happened. As a matter of fact, I practically couldn’t write in that space. The energy was all wrong – and because it was shared – it could be energetically cleared and then would soon be filthy with negative buzz again. No. Helping. It.

  • There are people who can create in chaos, and others who need order to summon the muse.
  • There are people who can work in sterile surroundings, and those who need beauty around them to create.
  • There are people who must be alone, and those who thrive on collaboration and buzz.
  • For some, the surroundings don’t matter as much as the time of day – or night.

For me, I would pretty much create wherever you put me, but high levels of stress freak me out – maybe that’s another topic…one for a therapist. (click to Tweet).  I do find certain surroundings are more conducive to prolific creation, however. And, other little details, like music, a water source, good light – those things matter to me.

So this week, I just wonder what impact YOU think surroundings have on prolific creation and stellar artwork. What do you need that you don’t have? Is that a real need, or is it a want? Is it an excuse? How is it for you? Feel free to share, here in the comment box at the bottom of the page. You may have to click on the title of the blog to make them appear. I look forward to the conversation. (For more inspirational studios – check out my Pinterest – Studiohhhh board). 

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Michelle Andres is a writer and artist. She writes this blog to share tips for a well-lived life and a Writer, Artist, Coachfinely run art business…just for you!

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26 Replies to “Studio Space – A Place to Call Your Own”

  1. I moved from a very large studio I loved to working out of my RV! LOL Although the RV is more than sufficient, I can not get messy or crazy now…..so the yearning for a new studio is definitely upon me. Space matters, not completely, but it matters.

  2. Sirima Sataman us a friend of mine and my son’s. We all showed together at the SF Open Studios two years in a row. Her studio was directly across the hall from ours. It was a live work space and highly organized. She now has her own retail studio in PT. Reyes. She also shares space over at Hunters Point Artist Colony. That being said…she produces prolifically no matter where she’s at and although her spaces are highly organized and beautiful…. It’s her commitment to her art that really seems to be her main motivator. Art IS where the heart is! Thanks for an interesting blog…

    1. Wow, 6 degrees of separation – or less – Carla. It’s interesting that her space is always highly organized. It must be an environment that helps her thrive. Yes, Art IS where the heart is! Thanks for chiming in!

  3. I’ve worked in various spaces over the course of my artistic pursuits; presently in my dining room with a massive easel and it’s wonderful. I am packing up to move to Prince Rupert, B.C. and there to find a house and a space which speaks to me, in my own cozy little home. Not sure what that space will look like, but usually it’s the “vibes” that make it for me. I think I could work in just about any space.

    1. You’re a lucky one, Claudia! I think knowing what makes you tick is crucial. It would be awful to change spaces and THEN find out you were affected. Good for you for being able to pick up the places with the right vibe!

  4. My two children could not be more different when it comes to their study environments. My son thrives with loud music and chitty chat. My daughter thrives in solitude and quiet. As for me, I just got my first laptop and am no longer chained to the computer in the basement. I’ll keep you posted on how the writing goes out in the big, busy world of coffee shops. I’m very excited!

    1. So interesting, Kelly. I can write in coffee shops and I love doing so. If my husband is in my work area, I can’t seem to write. He distracts me – I’m just too nosey about whatever it is he might be doing. LOL!

  5. I can and have created in many places. I’ve made it a practice to listen when the Muse comes calling no matter where I am. But having said that, I do like having a space that feels delicious and inspiring to me, filled with bits and bobs and lots of treasures.

    1. You are very fortunate, Linda. I am used to where my supplies, water, light, etc. are and get somewhat disoriented in the “flow” without them. For me, some places also feel more inspirational than others. I admire your freedom.

  6. michelle – such a thoughtful post. It made me think about what do I really need. I have plenty- a large room just to myself, water and bathroom nearby and supplies galore. But I remember when the art I made at my kitchen table was just as good. Loved all of the photos on Pinterest too, we can always dream

    1. Sue…sometimes dreams can become reality. Remember when you were at the kitchen table? Thanks for sharing and thanks for checking out the Pinterest board. Art on!

  7. Wow! Those studios you have on your Pinterest board are all so fascinating!

    You got me to thinking that I guess it depends on my mood. Sometimes I enjoy music but for the most part, I enjoy peace and quiet so I can concentrate AND I enjoy being in my own surroundings and not a coffee shop. Interesting…

    1. There are certainly some dream studios there, Elda. I like to write in coffee shops or be in the silence of my home, but I like my art studio to have music playing when I’m painting. So much variety here! It’s cool!

  8. Hi Michell,
    I love this discussion! Maybe I’m one of those artists that do their best work in chaotic/less-than-perfect environments! I’ve lived in many places in the USA, had fancy studios, & been in a 1-room cottage with my husband & our cat (where I painted on the ground outside & had that art accepted into juried shows). The chaos to me is almost like having music while I paint, which “distracts” from the scary blank canvas…I just “go to it” (creating) more easily than with the slick, perfect environment. BUT, having a bigger space to create in allows more time to paint & less time to set up & find things! At any rate, I’m most grateful to be able to create no matter where I am!

    1. You are one of the lucky ones, Jill! What a variety you’ve experienced. I guess the larger, but still chaotic studio would be the best situation Easier access to supplies and more than enough room for the Muse to stretch! Keep creating! ~m

  9. Hi Michelle,
    LOVED your article and just the idea of having a separate space to create is important. Our small house does not allow for this space, yet… however I am busy creating the colors, ideas for what I want in it NOW so that when the opportunity arises I will be ready!! right now am enjoying coloring and am creating beautiful mandalas in peacock hues for my new yet to be space. Also LOVE photography and have many hours of editing and playing to do from our
    our Italian trips.

    1. Donna, it’s such a wonderful experience preparing for a new creative space. I liken it to nesting when you get ready to welcome a new baby into the family. Sweet anticipation. Enjoy this time. ~m

  10. I started working on the kitchen table, then moved to a spare bedroom and onto a spaces in a couple of old shoe factory buildings and with each move my work changed and got bigger. The biggest change in my work happened when I moved into those old factory buildings where there were other artists. The changes not so much because of the size of the space but because of the location and interaction with colleagues. When we moved to New Mexico I had the opportunity to build a studio to my specifications. The space is exactly what I need and my work has become even more ambitious. The space and its location has always affected how I work.

  11. The space I work in has everything to do with the work I produce. I like having extra room. I like having all my gear, which many would consider clutter but I need it because I mix medias frequently so I want the tools and materials nearby. I don’t need music when I work but when I have it, the music comes through in my work. Right now I am working in my one car garage but I am often out and about with different tools. I don’t want people around. I once showed my wife a rough draft of a novel. Hardly anything beyond an outline. Her comment? People don’t write like that. I couldn’t even pursue the conversation. I just don’t need input that puts me in the place of having to explain things. Leave me alone. It does seem that any kind of stimulus begins to drive my work. But as to the space? I will work anywhere even if it is not a place of my choosing. I always admired my Mom who was quite an artist. She carried with her a tiny watercolor pad and dry paints. She painted what she saw, and she saw plenty. She said that she painted house portraits.

    1. Bruce, although it’s another topic, input in the midst of our work has the potential to create all types of discord. Many of us have had a similar experience. When I recently spent 10 days at an intensive workshop in Taos, we were not allowed to even LOOK at one another’s work. They did have a designated day to display and walk around if we chose. I’m glad you have a happy space that works for you! Thank you for sharing your experience. ~m

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