Monday, April 09, 2007

What makes a studio?

So my boyfriend and I have decided to buy in Boston, one of the priciest real estate markets out there, where the endless debate of space vs. location looms. I have thus become obsessed with looking up condos online and figuring out how to set up a studio... how small a workspace can I really manage in? What about how seperate a work space is from your living space, does anyone out there have their studio in a loft? Whats that like? Would it be worth it to get a fancier living space if my workspace is smaller or darker? What do I really need around me while I work, and what is is just wasting space? Better to have more space, or natural light?

Right now I have a sweet, private little studio with 4 windows that cast fantastic natural light and I love it. Of course I've dreamed of long stretches of tables where I could lay out my paintings... though I fear city living might never give me that.

Sometimes I get super picky about where I can be productive and get ideas, the kind of space that breeds inspiration. But maybe finding the perfect spot is just another form of procrastination? Once I am rolling with an idea, I barely notice my surroundings anyways...

This weekend when I visited with Libby we were discussing how her sunny yellow apartment has made her so productive, she even unknowingly sat in the southeast corner to write, which is good feng shui. How much does your space influence your productivity?


Anonymous said...


I often stare longingly at other artist's spaces. Alexandra Boiger has the most desirable spaces I have seen and creates incredible art within it.

I work in our basement with natural light lamps. Truth be told, "once I am rolling with an idea, I barely notice my surroundings anyways..."

Keep us posted on your new studio! I would love to see where you end up.

Best wishes,

Meghan McCarthy said...

i have a dream studio... but it will probably never happen. It involves lots of windows and long tables to lay stuff out on. Oh, to have long tables. i'd also love flat files.

Anna, where did that picture come from? Is that a place you've looked at?


Anna Alter said...

The picture is from the Brewery Loft complex here in Jamaica Plain that is about to come on the market. The spaces are GORGEOUS, but most of them are basically one big room... I don't know if I could handle working in the same room I eat, cook and sleep in.

ChatRabbit said...

Anna, we deliberately built our studio into the main floor of the house so it would be integrated with the rest of life. I didn't like the way our old studio (on the 3rd floor) was so separate from everything else. A studio loft type setup sounds good to me, but I guess it depends on how you work- are you the type who wants to be able to truly leave your studio sometimes, or do you like having continous access to it?

Elizabeth O Dulemba said...

Once I get in "the zone," it doesn't matter where I'm working. My brain turns into it's own creative cave. I've had some nice studios though (my old one was in the loft of a log cabin) and I have my own plain jane converted bedroom now. The only thing I haven't had is a big peg board wall where I could pin up all the illustrations from a book to see how they're working together. That would be a serious bonus.

gail said...

Like Liz, I think it all depends on how you work. I tend to get very messy. I like to spread things out. Stack up piles of books. Look at tons of reference. Having a seperate space to spread out in and walk away from at the end of the day is a treat for me. I can leave things just as they are to come back to later, without messing up the house.

This helps with self-discipline. It makes me work when I'm in the studio, and helps me not work so much when I'm "home". (Ok, I do sneak out to the studio quite often at night.)

My studio is a seperate building just a few steps from the house. We built it ourselves, so it has everything just the way I need it. The only thing I could ask for is one twice as big!

Anna, the loft you have the photo of sure has wonderful light. And cool brickwork!


Anonymous said...

In terms of productivity I'd be careful about size: when I had a too small place it wasn't just cramped, but was making me less efficient because I couldn't have several projects [or multiple aspects of one project] comfortably going at once. What has effected my productivity most is having the space for multiple work stations and good storage for supplies/reference etc. Interestingly enough, this only took a bit bigger space then I had! Besides that, once I am working I don't notice the surroundings much either, except I do like some sun to come in.

The only other workspace problem I've had was once when I had a workspace that shared a giant room with a general living room space. It worked great except for one thing: when visitors came over [depending on the person] I often wished that my desk was more inaccessible to casual comment or curiosity.

Good luck!

Anna Alter said...

Thanks guys, great advice. I'll let you know how it turns out.