Studio Space: Away from Home

Studio Space: Away from Home
Show Notes
Want to start creating but you just can’t work at home? Perhaps there’s no space, too many distractions, or you need special equipment. In this episode I help you assess whether renting an art space is best for your needs and what that looks like.  

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Episode Transcription:
[00:00:00] Welcome. I'm Kristi Backman. And this is my podcast Cultivating Creativity. It's about helping you build your creative life. Giving creatives a way to make space for artistic growth, through the insights of an artist , art instructor, and a creativity coach about the creative process and living that crazy creative life.

[00:00:29] Want to start creating, but you just can't work at home? Perhaps there's no space, perhaps too many distractions, or you need specialized equipment. In this episode, I will help you assess whether renting an art space is best for your needs and what that looks like. 

[00:00:46] In the last episode, I talked a lot about the mobile studio. And if you can't tell, I'm in love with the mobile studio. And even though I have a permanent studio in my basement, I have multiple mobile studio kits that I can quickly grab and take with me to a different location. Be that to a park, to a coffee shop, to a friend's house, anywhere I want. And I can leave my space and get a new, fresh perspective, new energy from a new space. And that can just be a wonderful option. And perhaps it could be the easiest solution for you. 

[00:01:27] If you know, you can't work at home and if we're looking for set places to work, coffee shops are a great place. But say you're not wanting to buy something every single time you go somewhere. Public libraries! I know what's a library? But I don't know about you, I love libraries! Well, I personally love to read, so when I move to a new place, I find the library. There such a great point of community and they're a great resource. You can reserve quiet rooms or just work in the regular open space in the library. They also often will have some nice outdoor seating. So don't forget the library.

[00:02:05] Other things, public spaces, parks. So, this is really going to depend on your region and your time of year. Another idea would be doing a search for places to work remotely. In today's society, there's a lot of people working remotely so there have been places set up where people can rent time or they can just go. There's a lot of opportunities for that. So again, take a look. You might be surprised by some of the things that you find! I have found some really fun places where I can go and do my work if I'm not feeling like staying at home. So don't overlook the mobile studio. And again, that is just having your collection of supplies in a ready format. It could be a bag; it could be a toolbox or container, a backpack, a rolling cart. Whatever that looks like for you. Just make sure it doesn't get too big or cumbersome because otherwise we won't use it and we don't want to injure ourselves and you want to make sure it's convenient so you can take it with you anywhere you want to go. So, if you get work at home, consider the mobile studio. 

[00:03:10] Next let's consider rented space. if you're thinking about renting space, the first question I want you to ask yourself is can you afford it? Do you have the financial resources to rent a studio space? This can change based on location and where you're at, but you're looking at several hundred dollars a month. 

[00:03:29] Typically it's not another mortgage, but it could be another car payment. Variables include the size of your community, the cost of living in your community, and the availability of rented space. All of those variables are part of this equation. So, I can't give you a number. That's going to have to come from your specific location, 

[00:03:49] Dialing it back. First of all, do you have the financial resources? If so, then I have a couple other questions for you. You then need to determine why you need the space. Now, do you actually have no space at home? Or perhaps maybe you work best away from home, and you need to go somewhere else to focus. I know for some people that leaving the house, it makes it feel more real. They can leave the responsibilities they have at home at home and switch their focus to a work mindset. 

[00:04:21] But that's not always necessary. In some cases, you can create that same sensation, with just firmer boundaries. My father is a self-employed landscape architect. And during my lifetime, he's always had his office in the basement of our home. And when he went to work and that door closed, I did not see him until dinner. Even when we were small, we knew we couldn't go into that space. Dad was at work. That was just a very strong boundary that my parents created, and I never questioned it. So, it could be that you need some different boundaries. 

[00:04:57] And with mindsets, just as a fun story. Piet Mondrian, a very famous painter, he came from a family of bankers, and he was the black sheep being the artist. But he had grown up in an environment where you got dressed up for work, you left the house, you go to work. And so, he would get dressed up in a suit every day and he would go to a studio, every day, in a three-piece suit. Just like the bankers in his family. And he would work the nine to five. And he said that doing that routine, created the mindset he needed to get into his artistic zone. So, and I'm not saying you have to dress up. I certainly wouldn't, but I think it's a fun idea. What can you do to alter your mindset? 

[00:05:44] I'm not trying to talk you out of a rented space. But being an artist, there's typically more limited resources and I want to make sure this is the best use of the resources you have. 

[00:06:03] The biggest reason people often look for offsite studio space is when they have specific media needs. Perhaps they use large-scale work, or they need kilns. They need a forge. They need something very specific. Maybe there's large and/or dangerous equipment, power tools, extensive exhaust needs for dust and chemicals or specific power needs. So, all of these reasons typically require specialized locations. Now there are several different options to look into. If any of these falls into your needs. 

[00:06:35] One solution is to look for classes in your medium. Say you're a ceramic artist and you find a ceramic studio. In some cases, you can pay for a class and for the price of the class (you don't need to take the class) but for the price of the class, they will often let you use their kiln. In other cases, they might have a rental fee for using some of their equipment and space. 

[00:06:58] Another idea is to reach out to other local artists that use that media. Maybe you're looking for a glass studio space. If you can find another local artist in your area that works in the same media, you can do a couple of things. One, you can ask them for ideas because they're going to be the most dialed into those needs within their own community. Another option is perhaps you can rent some time or space in their studio. That might be a wonderful solution for both of you, 

[00:07:28] If you end up renting a space, make sure you look very closely at the rental agreement. Make sure that space allows for whatever noise, whatever chemicals, whatever equipment that you need to use. And here's a basic piece of common sense that a lot of artists don't consider. If you're doing large scale work, make sure that there's a garage door or a door large enough for you to, once you have created your work, to take it out of the location. Some of those common sense things. So, before you actually go looking for this space, I recommend writing down your list of needs you want to be very open and upfront with whoever's renting you the space. You are clear with what your needs are and with what the possibilities are with the space and that they're compatible. This is just going to save you headaches down the road. 

[00:08:31] Another reason that people prefer to work away from home is because they need community. There are artists who really thrive in a co-op or in studio collectives. They need other creatives around them to feed their energy. And so, working around other artists is inspiring and enjoyable for them. So, finding some of those places. Are there co-ops that have workspaces? Are there studio collectives? And if not, see what, see if you can tap into the creative community you live in. Is there a need? Is there a desire? Perhaps it's something you could start.

[00:09:00] You may have noticed, in talking about this topic, I've said ‘other people’. Personally, I'm an introvert and I have only had one studio away from home. It was during grad school, and I found it very challenging to work in a collective space. And even though I'd like to consider myself a friendly person when I'm in the zone, I don't want to deal with other people. I didn't like to be interrupted. Now again, there can be boundaries. I could have a sign on my door; however it wasn't an environment that was beneficial for me. You're going to know, listening to this, which type of artist you are. You already know that. 

[00:09:38] Now some challenges of a community space may be spending too much time chatting or ongoing interruptions. And again, what we did in our collective space was a note that said WORK IN PROGRESS, and we would put that up if we didn't want to be disturbed. 

[00:10:00] Another challenge could be, how sensitive are you to noise? You might hear other people talking, hear the noise in their studio, hear a variety of people's different music. So that can be a distraction. Is that something you can work with? Again, that's another question you have to ask yourself. So, this is something where knowing yourself and finding an environment that's going to be right for you and beneficial for you is really the challenge. 

[00:10:21] Some of the advantages, it can be wonderful to have a workspace separate from home and to create a balance. To allow you to be fully present in either space and you can leave the mess at work. Another advantage is for those of you who thrive on that creative energy that other people can bring. You're only going to find that in some type of community space. Some people require motivation, for some, the fact that they're paying rent at a place becomes the motivation they need to get up and go to that studio. So I'll say it again. It's about knowing yourself. 

[00:10:59] Another challenge with an offsite studio is travel time. Obviously, I recommend having your offsite studio close to home, you don't want a huge commute. What does that commute look like? How much of a barrier will that commute become to you actually getting to your studio?

[00:11:24] Another challenge is crossover. I have found when I had the separate studio space, I tended to bring a couple of things home to work on at night. Like I'm done for the day, but you know, as I'm relaxing and listening to an audio book or watching something on TV, perhaps I'll work on this one thing that just needs some fiddly time. Right? And then I take that home and then I leave that home and then I bring something else home, and then I'm at the studio and I don't have what I need. And so, I have things in multiple places. And again, that could just be me, but I have talked to other artists and community spaces. Who also deal with that challenge. And so that's just again, knowing yourself, perhaps creating some strategies around when you take things home or not, or if you even take things home. But it's something to consider. 

[00:12:05] Another facet of this discussion I want to present is to make sure that you're renting a space for the right reasons. So, we've talked about the necessity for your media, knowing yourself, and maybe you need community, or maybe you need that separation from home. And all of those things are completely valid. 

[00:12:33] However, I want you to consider some of these ideas. Rented art studio spaces can seem attractive as if they are giving us a validity and a sense of professionalism because, well, I'm renting a studio space. And so obviously I'm a professional. Does that resonate? Or had that not even occurred to you? We as creatives struggle with validation. Oftentimes our family and friends may not understand our passion and maybe supportive, but it might not be in a way that truly supports us. And sometimes having an exterior space could be something they understand. Now, I'm not saying that's not valid, but. Is that really best for you? Is that really authentic to how you need to work? 

[00:13:13] Also having a rented studio space can kind of mentally check a box. Like I want to start creating art, I'm going to rent a studio space. Renting studio space is step one. Then of course you have to set it up. And then of course the big one… you have to actually work there. 

[00:13:29] Just consider the parallel. How many people join a gym? And then what is the percentage of those people who actually go on a regular basis? So, oftentimes it checks a box for somebody mentally. And they're like, I'm an artist because I have a rented studio space, but really what actually defines being an artist is making art. And so, if that's what's happening, does it need to happen there? 

[00:14:00] Another problem is that a rented studio space can be out of sight, out of mind. There are so many things that might feel more important than actually loading yourself in your car or the bus or whatever and getting there and doing your thing and then coming home. And so sometimes that transition, it becomes a barrier. Even though it might have felt like a wonderful advantage at first, it becomes a significant barrier to actually getting there. And it becomes more easy to put off and then you find yourself showing up less and less. 

[00:14:25] You can probably tell; I prefer the home studio. And I own that. It works best for me. However, I do understand that some people need an offsite studio. We have extroverted artists who need community. We have artists that have specific space and or equipment needs. And we have artists who just need that separation of their artwork and their home space. And that's completely fine. I just want you to really think about the different components that go into that decision. And I recommend starting with a home studio because if you know you're going to need to move out of that space, you're going to get a better idea of what your exact needs are. And this will give you an opportunity to make the right decisions for you.

[00:15:14] So, it's time for you to do a little bit of soul searching and a little bit of research and figure out if this type of space will work best for you. If you have any questions about this process, I would love to hear your thoughts and your questions, reach out! And remember, it's you, the artist that brings the magic. The space is just the container.

[00:15:37] If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to my podcast. You can also follow me on social. Until next time!