8 Tips for Organizing Your Studio, by Claire Desjardins

"An artist's studio isn't always perfect. I started out by painting in a cupboard! How you organize your space can make all the difference in your creative mindset and productivity. Setting up your space just right can set the tone for your session and allow your creative juices to flow!"

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I’m a former graphic designer and web usability expert. This carries over to every facet of my life: I enjoy functional beauty in my day-to-day. Here are my suggestions on how to create just the right studio space for yourself.

When organizing any space, I find it helpful to think about the activities that I wish to perform there. I make a list and then break it down into smaller tasks.

In my studio, I perform a variety of activities: I paint (I use different kinds of acrylic paints), I varnish, I have a space for my artworks to dry, I photograph my paintings, and then I scan, document and store them until they find permanent homes. With this in mind, I've organized my space so that I optimize it, and can move about as freely as possible.

When I'm in there, I want my creativity to flow, unobstructed by having to organize furniture, move things around, adjust easels, etc. I just want to create the clearest path possible towards making my art. There are so many ways that a studio can be organized, and I find it helpful to have a master plan. Here are a few ways to think about your space, in no particular order:
• Organize by activity
• Organize by colour
• Organize by product


Here are some tips that have worked for me in the past:


PAINTS: BY TYPE OF PAINT

I paint almost exclusively with acrylics, but there are several types of paint. I use different kinds of acrylic paints: fluid, mixed with mediums, hard-bodied, gouache, ink, tubes vs pots, etc.


PAINTS: BY COLOR

Once my paint groups have been made, I like to organize my paints by colour, so that I can intuitively locate any colour without having to look for it (and break my concentration).




PAINTBRUSHES

I have many different kinds of paintbrushes: long handle, short handle, wide, pointy, narrow. I like to use old coffee cans to group the different kinds together.

 

 

CANVASES

My blank canvases take up a lot of space. I therefore have to store them efficiently, so that they take up the least amount of room possible. I find it helpful to group same-sized canvases together and store them face-to-face and back-to-back. This way, the staples on the back of canvases don’t scratch the front of neighbouring canvases.

KEEP IT DUST FREE

My studio is my playpen, I welcome the mess! Spills, splashes, drips … it’s all there and it’s created quite an abstract-looking floor over the years! That said, I try to keep the dust level down, as it can get onto my paintings and sully them. For that reason, I try to sweep/vacuum regularly.


LIGHTING

It’s important to have good lighting in a studio because you really need to be able to see colours and details fully. Painting is a visual medium, and so, making your own view as clear as possible is important. Whenever possible, paint near your light source. I prefer to use a series of overhead “daylight” bulbs, but I still paint near a window, if possible.


FURNITURE

At the centre of my studio, you'll find painting tables. They're surrounded by my easels and a few chairs. I even have a sofa at the back, and I often take naps on it (squeezed in between our two dogs … it helps fuel my creativity!)


BIG BLANK WALL

After I'm done painting, I like to document my artworks, so I need a space to photograph them. I have a big white wall at the back of my studio for this. Try to avoid using too much artificial lighting on paintings, especially incandescent lighting, as it tends to create a brownish tint in photos. If possible, your photography space should be near natural light. I used to bring my paintings outdoors to photograph them, but that was a bit of a burden, as my large paintings often catch the breeze like a sail and the weather doesn’t always cooperate.