My studio has finally returned to being used for weaving, creating, and running a small arts business. For the past year and a half, I have been working from my studio for my day job, a Social and Emotional Learning Specialist. I have taught well over 720 classes from this space, ranging from Kindergarten to university level students. Around 30 presentations or trainings have taken place in my little kitchenette with Fiona the Orchid and the old Red Pine visible through the window behind me. While this space has been filled with beautiful connections, laughter, very honest conversations, and sometimes tears from the past 18 months of navigating COVID 19, it is now time to return this space into what it was before ... an artist space!
In 2016 a local artist pulled me aside at an art fair and gave me some art advice that supported their art career moving forward. This artist had heard I was looking for an artist studio space and this one piece of advice they shared has also been a significant support in my own arts career, helping to keep it moving. To this day I regularly return to this advice and it is one of the few words of wisdom I feel is important enough to pass on to other artists.
Here it is...
Your design space needs to sustain and create creative energy. When we create we need to feel innovative, curious and connect authentically with who we are, we need a space that supports that. If you walk into your creative space and feel your creativity deplete or feel bogged down, that directly affects your clarity to dive into being the creative that you are. My friend's advice is to be strict about your creative space, in a way, protect it! Curate it deliberately to inspire and support you. When you walk into the space it should at least maintain your creativity, and ideally, inspire MORE creativity! It is through creating this creative space that again and again when returning to it, you continually feel compelled to keep going, designing, and making with curiosity.
Our design spaces are sacred. They are where we transform our ideas from a mental theory/image to a physical form. It's a space where we truly express ourselves and get to be ourselves without restraint. It is in these spaces where creation happens, things that previously did not exist become reality for the first time. This is why it is important WHERE you create, that space is where creation happens!
A few questions to help you curate your creative space:
1) What influences and inspiration inspire you? Make space for pieces that inspire your design creation. Are there textures, silhouettes, colorways, or aesthetics that influence your work and that you're drawn to? Include those in your design space! From a vision board, to planters, to the color of your walls, or your tea mug, find ways to incorporate these influences!
2) What soundscape helps you think? Do you need dead silence, the subtle wrestle of the trees, loud raging music, or broadway ballads to get you in the creative zone? Whether it's playing music, a white noise machine, or wearing noise counseling headphones to keep all of the family noise out, do what you need to be surrounded by sound that helps you work.
3) How are you keeping your materials to inspire? Odds are your medium of choice is something that you truly enjoy. The texture, color, weight, smell, shade... We're artists, we like that stuff.
When we store our medium of choice not only do we want to access it easily we also need to access it in a way that helps us feel creative and inspired. Find a fun way to display your materials; a bead stand in front of the window, big open shelves to see all of your colors of yarn, or a fancy bag that organizes your materials that can be easily taken out or stored away, and always feels special to use.
4) What energy do you need? When you enter your creative space do you need more or less energy? Do you need bright colors, fast music, and quick movements to increase your energy? Or do you need a space that calms and centers, something with grounding colors, simple visuals, and a slower pace. Pay attending to what you need when entering your creative space, then create a routine and physical space that supports where your energy needs to shift to help you create.
5) What keeps you in flow? Being in flow is when we have both tapped into our creative energy and have the capacity and skills to navigate our current task. It can feel effortless, like time doesn't exist, and that you have ample energy to dive into your work. Note the times that you feel like you experience that creative flow and note when and how that happens. This can mean making more time doing the things where you currently experience that creative flow. Also, try to think of what helps you stay in your flow state. Is it having an organized or messy space, three beverages and a snack ready to go, the perfect sing-along playlist, or your favorite furry companion asleep beside your bench as you create and work through the evening? Find where your flow is and find how to support it. That is your creative space.
I regularly return to question if my space is supporting my creative energy and how so. This has turned into multiple different paint updates over the years and rearranging my space every season for the current need of production. Every time that I further invest in my own space it inspires me to keep creating and keep going. Investing in our creative space is also investing in our sustained, supportive creative work. It is what will sustain our artist adventure not only today or tomorrow but our artistic journey for years to come. This simple advice has kept me curious to my own creative needs over these past few years, and I still remind this artist friend that they gave me the greatest artist advice I have ever received. I invite you to think of your own creative needs in your space and also... feel free to pass it on! We need as much creativity as we can get!