How Creative Is Your Space?

As an artist, finding and/or designing a creative space in which to work productively is a crucial element to our individual success. The work is what feeds us, but the space in which we work must also keep us coming back for more. If we can’t create, we won’t return. If we don’t return, we don’t get any work done – it’s the whole snowball rolling down the mountain thing. In last week’s article I discussed finding time to relax after finishing a project. This week, I’d like to pin that snowbal ON the mountain. How do we, as artists, create a space in which to work productively?

For most artists, whether visual, audio, or language-oriented, the single most important issue in making art is finding a safe and comfortable place in which to create it. In many cases, the space finds us – a room in the house that no one uses, a converted garage, a treehouse. It is an instinctual and difficult item to find at times, but without a safe and secure place in which to work we are not able to do the real work.

I have friends who have created their own unique spaces in which to work: built sheds one hundred feet from their homes; re-floored a section of a warehouse to squat in an abandoned loft; turned closets into a bedroom in order to use the larger part of the room to paint in. There is no one solution. All you have to do is look, and listen to your gut.

When you find a place, ask yourself a few questions: Can I get my work done here? How much time can I dedicate in this place? Will I be distracted? Will I be inspired?

If it’s the right place, you will know. If it’s not right, be honest with yourself. Sometimes it takes a few days to get used to a new place, but if it isn’t the right place even a new place won’t work.

Sometimes, changing workspaces is difficult. The way Jack White puts it in the song Little Room , When you’re in your little room / and you’re working on something good / but if it is really good you’re gonna need a bigger room / and when you’re in the bigger room / you might not know what to do / you might have to think of how you got started / sittin’ in your little room.

Picasso, Studio Rue di SchoelcherWhen settling into a new, creative space, I will include totems, notes, sketches, and other miscellanea as an inspirational reminder of the work I am doing. I will make sure I am comfortable, that there is enough space in which to work.

In my current space (an extra bedroom turned into a library and office), I have an enormous poster/playbill announcing a Picasso exhibit at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence Italy – I ripped off a wall when I was living there in 1998. There’s a large picture of Picasso in his Paris studio. The studio is a mess, he is staring at the viewer. Picasso is young and strong and there is something very inspiring about it for me. It’s positioned directly over my desk. It is that one thing in my Creative Space that says ‘just do it.’

This is the sort of thing I’m suggesting – something in your space that inspires you to continue returning to this place in order to live out your dreams.

This week, let’s all go to our workspaces and feel them out. Is it aiding your cause or deterring it? What could you do to improve it? Maybe just a little cleaning will suffice. Maybe you’ve known all along the space you chose was inappropriate, but it’s all you’ve got. In this case, you must make it your space or find another.

How important your art is to you? What are you willing to do to create an incredible creative space? Do you have an awesome creative space now? How did it become awesome? Send me a picture, or a video tour, or simply leave your comments below.

– Benjamin Spencer

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