Rules for Studios
Setting up personal space is like software coding: decisions about
arrangements and accessories amount to a string of commands based
on priorities. Here are my top two office needs.
What's most important needs to be easy to reach. I need rulers and
pens within leaning distance, sketch paper within one step, paints
and pencils within two steps, access to snacks and tea without
having to climb stairs. Clock and calendar must be within
line-of-sight, without a neck crick or a mouse click. These
proximities are in the category of Need because ideas are fleeting
things, and can get lost in a walk to the next room for paper, or
in the time it takes to find a pencil.
A Certain Degree of Tidiness, but Not Too Much
choose to set out an enormous amount of eye-candy, an
amount Marie Kondo might possibly call clutter. Pshaw. I
don't need all those books, boxes, and bibelots
to function, but my nice junk makes me happy, and leads
my mind down helpful roads.
On the other hand, every project generates clutter.
Having two dogs generates dog hair, drawing generates eraser dust
and snacks generate crumbs. At a certain point the various
clutters and dirts cross a threshold and add up to more than I can
handle. Clean-up becomes necessary, even if a deadline is looming
like a freight train and I'm like the famous Pauline, tied to the
track. I must get up and sweep. Random clutter, miscellaneous bits
and detritus, and dirt - pull my eyes and mind down unproductive
roads, and my heart feels jangled. I know I won't do good work
till I clean up.
Not Strictly a Need...
I have worked at a kitchen
table, in a basement office, in a poorly-renovated chicken
hatchery, in a room so small I had to go outside to change my
mind, as well as in a spacious and well-equipped business
office. The latter was probably where I did my least inspired
work, the next-to-last, my most inspired. There's a
self-indulgent part of me that wants to insist that having my
office set up to my liking is necessary to creating Art with a
capital A, but my personal history says it ain't so. It's just a
I need some convenience, and some order.
I don't need a place that I love, I'm just thankful to
Above are alternate views, taken at a rare moment when the office
was VERY tidy. Those are Charley Harper posters on the wall,
that's my dad's drafting table flanked by those hair-generating
dogs, a house portrait, school desk and antique Underwood,
standing guard by my supply closet.