Finding a Studio
One of the most important things in any artist’s practice is their studio. Studios provide a dedicated space for researching, experimenting, conceptualizing, creating, and exhibiting work. A studio is like an artist’s office, but since each artist’s practice is different, each studio is different. Some artists require large warehouse studios for the production of monumental work. Other artists don’t have a conventional studio at all and may work at the kitchen table or at a coffee shop. The most important thing is to find a studio that works to your advantage and is affordable and sustainable. Here are some tips to think about before you choose a studio that is right for you:
Figure out how much you can afford for a studio space. Remember to calculate expenses for set up, lighting, electric bills for heating and air conditioning, etc.
Consider your existing resources, such as an additional room in your home or apartment. Can you work in the garage or basement?
Calculate the space that you actually need to make your work. If you are on a tight budget, consider the minimal amount of space necessary.
What kind of facilities do you need? Industrial voltage (220) for electrical needs? How many electrical outlets? Adequate ventilation? Natural light? Can the space get dirty? Concrete floors and high ceilings? A sink and bathroom facilities? How many walls do you need for flat work? Oversized doors?
Do you want to have proximity to other artists? Do you work better in isolation or within a community of artists?
Things to Consider:
Is the space in a convenient location? Is it long commute from your home?
Do you feel safe working late at night alone? Is there an alarm system on the building? Will curators/ critics/dealers feel comfortable visiting your studio?
Is the space zoned for live/work, or day use only?
Is there 24-hour access?
Are the utilities on a separate meter? Who is responsible for utility bills?
Is there adequate water, air conditioning, and heat? Will your work get damaged due to extreme heat or cold?
Who are your neighbors, and what is the noise factor, both during the day and at night?
How much noise will you make in your studio and will this be acceptable to your neighbors?
What kind of parking is available?
What kind of neighborhood is it in?
What was the space used for previously? You want to make sure you are not renting a space that has remnants of toxic chemicals or other hazards or problems.
Are pets allowed? Will the pets bother studio mates or neighbors?
Who is responsible for maintenance or pest problems? Are you responsible for interior maintenance and is the landlord responsible for keeping the building up to code?
Can you make improvements to the space (build walls) and what is the agreement for these improvements?
Who is responsible for liability and renters insurance?
Is there a loading dock or an elevator to move large works?
What are the security issues?
How long is the lease? Can you sublet any part of your space?
What are the agreements for rent increases?
Are there restaurants, coffee shops, or material supply stores in the neighborhood?
Is there trash or recycling on the premises? Do you need to get a commercial trash bin?
If you make improvements, will you be able to pass on the expense to the next tenant?
No Studio? It’s Cool
Some artists have a practice that doesn’t necessitate a studio, often called a post-studio practice. These artists can work at a desk, a park bench, or anywhere. If you are one of these artists, never apologize for your lack of a studio. You can still have studio visits with collectors, critics, and curators in any environment where you can show work on a laptop or in a portfolio.
Sharing your studio
Many artists share their studio with other artists. Working in proximity to other artists can make for an inspirational environment full of exchanging ideas and opinions. Before subletting your studio or sharing a studio with other artists, think about these questions:
Before you sign the lease on your new studio, ask your landlord if you can sublet the studio or get a studio mate. You don’t want to violate your lease agreement.
Have good communication with your studio mate(s) and reach an agreement about all financial arrangements so things don’t get sticky. Remember, your studio is a space for you to create, and you don’t want to share your space with studio mate(s) you want to avoid.
Be open and generous with your studio mate(s) about when and with whom you have studio visits. This will create a collegial environment, instead of fostering competition.
Plan regular open studios with your studio mates. Sharing open studios will bring more visitors and foster a sense of community.