My very first studio was my kitchen table in an apt in NYC. Then I moved it into an extra bedroom, which once outgrown, I next moved into the attic space. I remember that space was very hot in the summer and way too cold in the winter. I finally set up a studio in the living room of my house and then finally the garage. It took quite a few years before I finally had the courage to rent and move into someone else’s bigger garage and after that into an entirely separate building full of other artists. With each move my working space improved. Every time I gained additional space, better lighting, and generally a more uplifting work environment.
Each move, however, was always preceded by a degree of fear. It just felt scary. I never could afford it; the timing was not perfect and interestingly I thought my work was not actually at the point that warranted moving into a larger space. It was almost like I didn’t deserve it.
However, it was just something I felt I needed to do. I felt kind of cramped. I wanted more room so I could see my work from a distance. I felt the container – the current space for my growing work – was physically and psychologically too small. Ever so slowly I would come to the decision to finally move.
Looking back now, I understand the connections between creating my best art and having the right studio space.
Here then, are the three connections I have since learned about making my best art and having adequate studio space. I wish I knew then what I know now.
#1 If you begin to feel cramped move now.
Like a frog who will happily sit in a pot of water on a stove that is slowly heating up, the frog just gets used to the hot water and never figures out it is time to leave before it is too late—sometimes we can put up with cramped conditions, to the detriment of our work and mental health way too long. If you are not feeling happy in the space for whatever reason, move as soon as possible. It is time.
#2 A better space creates better Art.
I used to think that once I was painting successfully bigger and bolder, I would then be ready for a bigger, more uplifting studio space. Well I now realize that the bold and bigger work only came AFTER my move. In other words, I had to experience spaciousness, bigness in my environment in order to create work that felt that way.
#3 It never seems affordable.
I am always amazed that every time I wanted to move it always felt too expensive. I always wondered if the new space was just a little too big and that surely it was possible for me to find a smaller more affordable space. And then once moved, within a matter of days I felt absolutely at home, enjoying the benefits, not just of how I felt but how my work seemed to almost magically improve. Better, almost always, costs more. It feels the most expensive the day before you move in but in no short time the benefits will overwhelm the new more expensive reality, often because your improved work and brightened attitude help generate sales or income producing opportunities. It just always seems to work out.
I bring these points up in hopes that some of you, who might just need that extra nudge, take that big step towards the next better work environment. It can make all the difference in the world.
How does your studio space affect your work? Do you find you enjoy working in a smaller space, or are you looking for something bigger?
In gratitude, Nicholas