8/30/2010

Organizing a Small Studio on a Budget

From 2001-2006 I lived in a special bubble called Art School. We were given our own studio spaces, had access to amazing equipment and had professionals on hand to critique us during every stage of our artistic process. Now I need to do it all myself, in a small apartment. Not only is it a space to make art, but a business space where I need to keep track of paperwork and packaging for my Etsy business. Here's some tips to help you swing it like I have.

my new, tiny creation corner
  • In tight space? Build up. High shelves, peg boards, even old silverware dividers from dishwashers work to keep your clutter off your table space or the floor.
  • About tables. Get something sturdy and mobile. Wheels make it easy to move one in-progress projects out of the way and the open spaces of most folding tables leave room for storage or smaller pull-out tables.
  • Get a storage system. I personally do a lot of mixed media and need to know where all of my random crap is. I recommend clear containers as the easiest solution. Another option is to color coordinate. Fabric stored this way looks beautiful.
  • Create stations. Everything needs to have a place and artists in the middle of work are notoriously chaotic. I have one area just for packaging, weighing and printing labels. All of my materials are kept on moving shelf carts and my table is left for in-progress projects only.
  • How about equipment? I had to find a small, portable way to photograph my items. See the tutorial here. I keep my larger tools, like a sewing machine and a table loom under my work table unless I use them. For even bigger stuff, consider renting from a local art gallery/museum, an art community center that offers classes or a guild in your area. Many times you can rent their space or tools for a single project.
  • Tailor your space to your palette and aesthetic. I can't paint my rented walls, but I can tape up my favorite paint samples for free from the hardware store. I try to find dishes and trays at flea markets to organize projects and materials with a retro sensibility. Surround yourself with inspiration!
  • Finally, do weekly weeding. Try to find one day a week to get rid of junk you aren't using or don't need. Put away what you aren't using and mail out sold orders to make room for new.
Leave me your ideas and creative solutions :)

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