For many years now, my entire house has been used as my art studio. I would paint watercolor florals at my kitchen table because the light was good. I would set my easel up in the living room and paint with the front door open so I had the light streaming in and no glare on my canvas. I spent more time hauling my stuff around to paint and then to transition back to ordinary life than I wanted to. My art supplies were organized (somewhat) in an old dresser in the guest room, but it was never easy to get to them.
My digital work space was in the office (a.k.a. the guest room) and I worked on a laptop while sitting cross-legged on a futon so my dog could snuggle up next to me. It was comfortable, but not very convenient because the laptop got heavy after a while and seeing the tiny details on the screen was challenging.
Then I switched from a laptop to a desk top with a big monitor so I could see those small details. I put that on a desk that was so small the monitor pretty much went end to end and I had no room to write on anything but a tiny sticky pad on the top of that desk. Then I bought a scanner. And a Cricut machine. I stacked those pieces of equipment on a cart – along with my printer. The cart was on the other side of the desk, meaning I had to stand at the cart to scan or print and I couldn’t see my computer monitor to make adjustments to the settings unless I walked back around to the desk.
My process went like this: paint, haul painting into office, walk to the other side of the room and put work on scanner. Walk around the desk, push “Scan”, stand impatiently until the scanner was done, walk back to the scanner and adjust the image…repeat. There were times when I knew I should stop painting and scan the artwork before “finishing” the work, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of stopping for the 15-20 minutes I would take me to get it digitized. In no way was my set up conducive to a smooth workflow.
This summer, I’d had enough. I really thought about the way I use the space in my office (or WOULD LIKE to use the space in my office) and designed a very simple set-up that would work for me. I wanted one long desk for the computer equipment, and a smaller desk to paint on. I wanted file drawers and art supply drawers so I could reach down and pull out my alcohol markers or colored pencils without having to get up from wherever I was working, walk to the office, go through the dresser that held my art materials, and walk back to the kitchen (or living room) and resume working.
I kept the futon (the dog appreciated that) but got rid of the desk, the printer cart, the file cabinet, the dresser, and one office chair. I went with two work surfaces, a large one for my computer equipment (with the futon as seating) and a smaller one with a great task light and a desk chair for painting. I organized my materials accordingly, putting frequently used art supplies in the drawer system under the small desk and all of my computer related materials in the one beneath the monitor station. Now, I can reach my scanner without even getting up and the only hauling I need to do is from one side of the room to the other. The room still needs some refining (paint, some new artwork, some cool lighting), so I’ll post more pictures later but for now, here’s a before and part of the after.