Welcome to my studio! I did not clean up for you but feel free to look around!
The idea of ‘dedicated space’ for art is still a luxury to me. I hope I never take it for granted, how fortunate I am to have about 70 square feet that is zoned for making a giant mess.
I’m totally ready to show you my messy art nest, but first I’m going to put my human service worker hat on for a moment. And then I’m going to tell you a personal story. Bear with me, there’s photos at the end, I promise:
Holding space is something we do when we want to be there for others.
There’s been a lot written on the subject and it’s commonly referenced in the realms of mental/behavioral healthcare, social work and rehabilitation work. Holding space means gifting someone your presence in their time of need: mindful, grounded and without trying to fix or advise. Simply being with them in their time of grief, joy, or confusion. Meeting them where they are at. Holding space can be beautiful and kind.
You know who could really benefit from some intentional space holding? Your creative-ass self.
Storytime: I practiced art in many forms all my life. I painted as a kid and teenager. I wrote a lot of poetry. I took some drawing and painting classes in college (the first time around…). Working on a large project easily took up a room in my house for weeks at a time. And I always felt really, really guilty for it.
I felt guilty for taking up so much space in my family’s home. Making a giant mess and not knowing how long I needed before I would finish a project while other walked around my work was embarrassing. And I couldn’t feel uninhibited in creating like I wanted to, right out in the middle of the living room or dining room table.
But not making art felt even worse. For many years, I would bring art supplies to bed with the intention of drawing before sleeping, but end up leaving them on my night table, untouched. Without a consistent physical place to make and barely any time most days, I carried my art supplies around like a weird security blankie. I wished I could cut the compulsion to create out of myself, so that maybe I would have some peace internally and in my home.
When the person who is now my husband and I first moved in together, he encouraged me to find space in the house for my art making. This seemed wildly indulgent to me. “I’m not a professional artist. I’m not making money from my artwork. I’m not I’m not I’m not enough to be worthy of a space just for me to make things.”
My husband is an audio engineer and has a recording studio in our home. I see how important it is for him to work on a project by having his gear ready to go. I don’t see his studio as an indulgence, but a necessity. Slowly, after a few different iterations, we created a space for me to make stuff in.
What I really needed as much as physical space was permission to take up space creatively.
If you are like I was and don’t feel like you can claim space for your work and materials, listen up: you totally have permission. You don’t need it, but if you do need it, this is me giving it to you now. Go forth and make an art nest.
Holding space for your self and your creative work can be life changing.
Taking your work to a higher level requires self-love and respect for what you do. Since keeping dedicated space (and time! That elusive element that I can’t ever find enough of in a day), my art practice and the opportunities to connect with people through collaborative and commission work has blossomed.
So take up space! Get cozy and let it change as you need to. It may be small but it can be yours, and you and your creative weirdness deserve a place to stretch out and breathe together. You can build it slowly if you need to.
One last tip on putting your space together: be honest about what you need in order for you to actually use the space. Here’s a short list of what helps me feel like sitting here every day:
Wall Pockets - Omg I have to have wall pockets or I end up with piles of paper everywhere. I use them for finished work, work in progress, reusable paper scraps, my actual bills and important documents. They’re a great way to use vertical space!
Jars and Mugs - Art supplies go in these. I have over a dozen strewn around the room and in my art cupboard
Buckets - I call baskets or anything that you can put stuff in (yes, even jars and mugs) ‘buckets’. Buckets are my favorite organization solution. Wall pockets are buckets too. This entire list is mostly about buckets.
Digital Setup - My art/photoshop computer, scanner and printer are all within a few feet of my art desk. Back when these things were in different parts of the house, I rarely used any of them. Accessibility is everything!
Cute Stuff - Art my kids gift me, hanging lights my husband and I wrapped in twine while watching the Amanda Knox documentary, xmas lights all contribute to the ambience of the space. I know, it probably doesn’t look ambient to you, and yes, that is an actual bowl with poached eggs and a piece of toast on my desk, but I feel SO good in here.
What are your creative space necessities? Do you have a dedicated space for art making? Why or why not? Comment below if you like that kind of thing!