A subscriber wrote to say, “I’m in the process of planning a studio to be attached to my new home. I’m checking on what to build; either one of those glazed patio enclosures that are usable all year around, or a traditional frame room with skylights and windows onto a wonderful view. What do I need to think about? I want to get going on it. I can’t wait.”
I think it’s a good idea to think of your new studio as a place where you are going to be a bit of a pope. Realize that this temple needs to be like no other. Indulge your fantasy. Within your finances, plan to get what you want. Leonardo recommended small spaces in order to discipline the mind. I think bigger is better — more fun to fill up. Do you crave efficiency, or do you want some pizzazz? Is it a workshop that you want? How much comfort? Remember, if you make it too people-friendly, people will come around. Sound-proofing, insulation and ventilation are factors to consider.
Plan to fine-tune your immediate work area so everything is handy — power, palette, radio, telephone, easel-light, etc. Peripherals worth thinking about may include projector-pod, light-table, project-board, doggy-door. Reinvent yourself through your uniqueness and peculiarities — it’s your personality, remember. I think it’s good to have only two chairs — a working chair and a contemplating chair. Make sure there’s a secondary easel that will honor the produce. North light is best but not necessary. Incandescent light of high candlepower is. If put-away neatness is important, think out your storage carefully but don’t build it in — make it possible to change both your mind and your media. This is the place where you can grow. This is the place where you can really start to live.
One other thing: Leave room for later expansion. For example, at my place, after two years of confusion I added a separate office in order to try to purify myself.
PS: ” I think of my studio as a vegetable garden where things follow their natural course. They grow, they ripen. You have to graft. You have to water.” (Joan Miro)
Esoterica: If you care to, please give us your own studio findings and systems. For us artists, the workspace is our most important space. Sometimes minor items make a big difference. It’s valuable to know what others have done.
This letter was originally published as “Studio tips” on November 29, 2001.
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“All is well with me. The rain doesn’t reach me, my room is well heated, what more can one ask for?” (Paul Klee)