Three working artists share their expert advice on designing a space that works for you.

By Emily Popp
March 26, 2021
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clean home art studio
Credit: Mikhail Spaskov / Getty Images

These days, more people are converting their homes into a workspace than ever before. Since the pandemic, a staggering 42 percent of the U.S. labor force now works from home full-time and creatives are no exception. Whether you're a professional artist by trade or are moonlighting, having a space to create is imperative. Even though you know it's important, building a studio can be daunting. It's one of those "I'll get around to it" type of tasks.

Now, however, is the perfect time to take on the project. If you're an artist or just want a space of your home devoted to creating art, we've come up with the best pro tips to get you started. And who better to weigh in than working artists who set up at-home studios during quarantine? So we tapped Rebecca Peloquin, commercial food and beverage photographer, Joel Parsons, artist, writer and director of Clough-Hanson Gallery at Rhodes College, and Laura Ann Meyers Daly, artist and creative director of Over the Moon Gift, for their expert advice.

Look for the light.

"As a photographer, I need to make sure I can control the light," says Peloquin. "Experiment looking at the light in different areas you're considering for a few days, checking how the quality of natural light varies throughout the day. That will help determine where exactly to set up your studio. And curtains are key for blocking out unwanted light." Adds Parsons, "I invested in some 5000K, 90 CRI bulbs (that's lighting nerd for 'clean and clear, almost daylight') that allow me to stay focused and easily see what I'm working on."

Shop local when you can.

"So many local art stores are struggling right now, and they'll go out of their way to help you," explains Daly. "Art store owners and workers have untapped knowledge in pretty much all mediums, and they can suggest the best products." Peloquin warns not to get hung up on fancy brand names. "I used to think I needed the best brand names or I wouldn't create the best work," she says. "But I'm here to say that isn't true. Plus, you can always upgrade later!"

Prioritize functionality.

It's easy to be enticed by Instagram, full of photos of pristine art studios. "That cane-back wooden chair might look cute, but if it hurts to sit in, you won't be using it long," explains Parsons. "Find an ergonomic chair, and a desk or surface that allows you to work without hunching over. Pay attention to your body while you work. If you notice aches, pains, or discomfort, consider adjusting your furniture."

Keep things mobile.

Unlike a writer, artists require more space and gear. Peloquin suggests keeping what you can on wheels. "As a food and beverage photographer, I shoot most of my work on a tabletop, and I keep that table on wheels so I can easily move and lock it down." Daly, who works out of her breakfast nook, invested in storage that blends seamlessly with her space. "I bought baskets that I can pull out from under my kitchen banquette, but still look stylish," she says.

Prepare for some mess.

Think about protecting your space so you can work without doing long-term damage to your surfaces. "An inexpensive rug on the floor and cork tiles on the walls allow you to work on a whim without worrying about splatters and spills," says Parsons.

Create boundaries.

"A home studio is amazing, but it can be intimidating having your work in your home," says Peloquin. "Find boundaries and stick to them. Maybe this means you're always wrapped by a certain time or you always take a particular day off. Try different schedules until you find what works for you."

Think of your studio as a mindset.

Above all else, your studio is a state of mind. "You don't have to wait for the perfect setup," explains Parsons. "Ask yourself, 'what would make this easier, more enjoyable and allow me to work for longer periods of time?' The best studio is the one you'll use, so don't judge yourself for what you don't have; just get started!"

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