How to Create a Work Space that Works

Whether your work space is a studio, office, a truck or the kitchen table, you need a work space that works for you. How do you make that happen? I recently went on this adventure and revamped my whole studio space. The efficiency of the space has improved so much. I’m actually getting more done because of the way the studio is set up. I’m also enjoying my work more.

If the whole idea of revamping your work space sounds daunting, stay with me. I think there are three things that you can do to make a big difference in how your work space functions.

Use what you have-- You need to work with what you have. If you have a kitchen table, use that. If your space is tight and in the basement, then that is your foundation. If you put off making your workspace more useful to you because it’s not everything you hoped for, then you will be missing out on what is right in front of you! I spent months putting off the organization of my studio space because I was waiting for just the right system and just the right equipment.

Instead of working with my space, I pined for a studio location outside my home that could accommodate large work. When I was honest with myself, I realized that my current life stage really wouldn't allow for that and neither could my budget. Most of us have to work with what we have available right now, making purchases to improve our spaces a little at a time. You may have to get some keep storage containers or functional workspace furniture items to help you in your journey, but you would be amazed how you can re-purpose and re-situate things that you already possess. Time to get creative and work with the stuff you have available right now.

Take stock of your routine tasks--Take some time to think through how you use your space, currently. For work processes and for storing materials and equipment. For me, I have multiple activities that happen in my studio. I paint, I assemble collage, I do epoxy pouring, I package paintings, I print out collage materials, etc. The reason this is important is that a more efficient work space has a “spot” for all these tasks to happen. When I revamped my workspace, I knew I needed a dedicated area for painting, a place that I could layout out collage materials comfortably, a place for my printers, a place for my collage materials and other supplies. I also needed a place for doing epoxy pouring. Well, there was no way I had enough room for a dedicated space for each of those, so I found ways to create areas that could be multi-functional. My collage island doubles as my resin pouring area. My island also acts as storage for packaging, panels and paints. My shelf on the wall works for displaying finished work and drying work just finished. How can you create multi-functional areas in your workspace?

Work with your processes--This was a big one for me. I have tried many recommended work space organizing systems, but they never worked. Mainly, because I was not taking my own workflow process into consideration. Here’s an example. When I considered the easel options for my workspace, a lot of them were cost prohibitive! Geesh. So spendy. The options I looked at for DIY usually involved having the artwork hang vertically and completely perpendicular to the floor. I knew that would not work for me because I like working with the painting slightly angled. I also work in sizes ranging from 5’ x 5’ to 2” x 2” . That’s a lot of sizes that one easel would need to accommodate. My solution was to create a custom shelf that would allow my work to rest at angle against a wall. This shelf includes a lip so that the painting doesn’t slip off. The shelf can be moved so it can accommodate bigger sizes and it can also work as a small table area for the very small pieces I work on.

Another example would be the way I organize my collage materials. My pieces are usually created with the idea of a place or theme in mind. I found that organizing my materials via location (Colorado, Pennsylvania, etc) and then by subject (sea, farming, nature) worked the best for me. This system would be horrid for someone who is used to finding things alphabetically, but this isn’t his/her work space. It’s mine. This is what works for me.

Remember, that there will always be room for improvement and change. As your work changes, your workspace will need to change as well. That's ok. My next area of focus for my workspace is creating a place I can comfortably work on my computer for longer periods of time. I'm currently going through the process of looking at what I have, figuring out my routine tasks involved with my computer and thinking about my processes to make the best decisions I can.

I hope that this helps in moving you forward in your productivity and in making you work space work for you so that work no longer feels like work. Geesh….that was a lot of "work"….. til next time!

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