Shop Talk

5 Ways Independent Artists Can Improve Their Workspaces

Having just moved into a large studio complex filled with about 20 other artists I’ve learned that if I don’t make a conscious effort to make the most of my studio time, my creative life can really go to waste. So I’ve had to teach myself a lot about what helps making time in the studio productive and fruitful.

When creating new artwork it’s important to think about the space in which you’re making it. Perhaps you work from a professional studio space like me, or a room in your home, or a coffee shop — no matter where you make your work, think of it as YOUR “studio” space and how you can utilize and improve it.

To help get you started, I’ve broken down five tips for how to make the space in which you work, not only your own “studio,” but the most efficient and creative space in the world.

"Camera II" Tote Bag by Mark Elliott

1. Set office hours

Make sure you set aside specific times to do head to your work space. Set “office hours,” or hours you clock on and off for making artwork. Some artists I know use parks or public libraries as their studio spaces, but they still set aside times during the week to go to these places to work. Setting up structure so you treat going into your studio like another job can be a great way to ensure you’re at least attempting to create new work regularly. Even if you’re experiencing a creative block, setting specific time to show up to your studio is a great first step to creating a productive work environment.

2. Make sure you’re comfortable

This may sound basic, but this is probably the most important tip of this post. Make sure your artistic space is comfortable to work in. Consider these ideas:

  • Make sure your studio is a nice temperature. It is currently winter in Melbourne, Australia where my studio is, which has concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and a tin roof, which means it’s freezing. So if the space you’re working in isn’t insulated, make sure you insulate yourself in your studio. Try using hot water bottles, heaters, electric blankets for cold studios, and cold packs, electric fans and lots of iced drinks for super hot spaces.
  • Have an excellent light source that fits the need of your artwork. Consider replacing fluorescent light bulbs with more forgiving lights and prioritize your lighting needs in your space. If you can help it or afford it, having a source of natural light does wonders for making a space a pleasant place to work.
  • Have a primary surface on which to work. This might be a large desk, a drafting table, a dining room table, a futon, or a table in a restaurant. Whatever your work space arrangement is, make sure you have adequately sized surface to work on. Even if you think you don’t need a desk-like set-up, having one as a mental space to go can really help increase productivity and use as a home base.

"Where" Laptop Skin by Frank Moth

3. Set time to collaborate

When you use your studio space to make artwork, set aside a separate time to collaborate with other artists. If you don’t set aside time to just make artwork and do absolutely nothing else, you run the risk of letting your precious studio time get eaten up by other peoples’ creative work.

This counts for answering emails, engaging in social media, or planning artistic projects for the future. Set aside these jobs as tasks to do in your studio, but also make sure you see the difference between time spent in the studio making artwork and time spent in the studio doing life admin. Both are really important to keep your creative practice alive and thriving, but ensure you prioritize making artwork.

4. Get outside and explore

When you’re trying to increase studio productivity it’s important to make sure you give yourself time to find creative inspiration outside your studio. We’ve discussed the importance of going for walks, being amongst nature, or spending time people watching in the city. Exploring outside your own workspace will help your productivity. Being away for a bit, and returning to it with a fresh perspective can do wonders for your creative muscles.

5. Envision your studio as creative space

This is more of a “visualize it and will happen” kind of tip. Creativity can often be a mindset, so if you think of your workspace as a place where you go to just make artwork, not as a place for emails or conversation or exhibition planning (even though it can facilitate all these activities too), it can help you get more done when you’re there.

Having an official workspace is kind of like being in a relationship, it needs to be taken care of and understood. Finding what works for you in your workspace to make it productive is a personal part of being an artist. By imagining your studio as a place where your own imagination will always reign supreme, you can be the best liver of the creative life you can be.

Pencils by gpop

Do you have any tips for improving your workspace? What is your’s like? Let’s share our productivity tips in the comments below.