How to set up your fine art studio

Creating the ideal space where you can transform yellow spots into suns

Photo by The Digital Marketing Collaboration on Unsplash

Your fine art studio ought to be the place that transforms you, and ultimately enables you to transform your art. Picasso realized this requirement, that the art was as important as the spaces they were created in. This doesn’t mean you have to be overcareful about how your space looks, but that you can take stock of yourself to decide what should be present, and what you can do without. 

Because an art studio is the epicenter of your creative prowess, the best part of your fine art studio, is that it’s yours! You get to determine what you require to, upon entry, create with reckless abandon. 

The meaning of the word studio comes from the Italian and Latin word, “study”. Whether you form your studio from a room or garage in your home, rent out a warehouse bay, or utilize a store front allowing public access and use by other artists, your art studio should be tailored to your study of fine art. 

Now, to get started, consider what assists you in becoming mentally ready for deep study.

And as with any form of studying, remember it engages your every faculty, and is also where an artist can truly become one with the development of new works and the critical analysis of his own thoughts and ideas. Just like water has to be a precise temperature for a hot coffee, that particular temperature and coffee bean type, will dictate the end result. The same is true for art pieces that came before yours, and the art pieces you will create that will one day meet the world, on purpose, or by accident. They all began in a special, personally designed art studio.

Here are some items to think about.

When setting up your art studio functionality  is important

It is possible to say what is generally considered functional is practical. The label functionality is usually attached to something that does more than one thing, doesn’t take up a ton of space, or if it does it makes sense–like a dinner table that can be made larger or smaller for the space or the number of  people dining at it, or a Murphy bed falling down from an inner wall. 

But what is functional for one person isn’t functional for all. Take expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. In many 1980’s photographs of the chill 20-something, camera lenses often found him seated or lying on the floor, sockless, shoeless, mug near-by, sprawled uptop his paintings. 

Frida Kahlo Painting In Bed 

Frida Kahlo, due to a streetcar accident that damaged her spine, would paint in bed. She would also paint in a wheelchair. Both of these methods were with adjustable easels and helped to alleviate her discomfort because of the pain she was often in. 

Functionality becomes more about what makes you comfortable, than what looks pleasing to outsiders. Given every individual has different limitations, whether you need a stool, a comfortable floor mat, a wheelchair, or a step-ladder. Start jotting down what would make your art studio set up mold to you and not the other way around.  

You might also consider everything you’ll do in the studio outside of art. Such as eating meals,taking a nap, research, computer work, and making contacts with art shows,fairs, and galleries. So make your studio functional for you, not the artist down the street.

Can you see your art in your studio?: light and space

You might wonder if the same freedom in functionality applies to lighting and space. It does. 

Everyone is not at their best under migraine-inducing fluorescents or tight, cramped spaces. Nor does everyone feel empowered in dim lighting and sprawling open floor plans. When it comes to determining the amount of light and space you need, consider what types of spaces and lighting styles help you breathe easily and give your energy freedom to move about. 

You might thrive with ambient lighting that is overhead and can be shifted brighter or lower via a dimmer switch. Perhaps you want lighting that is dimmable but controlled via mobile device. Maybe you don’t like artificial lighting at all, and want tons of windows to project sun rays onto your studio space. 

Some artists who know they will show their work in a gallery, use gallery style lighting e.g. cool white halogen lights and white fluorescents, to give themselves an idea of what their work will look like in the exhibit. And, to get the most even lighting, using a bar light or light panel fixed to the ceiling can give colors on paintings the most clarity and authentic look and feel. This will help you determine how dark or light to paint something or if the finished product will come across the way you planned.

All of these preferences are good to know.

And while you figure out proper lighting also consider space. Do you need to be able to stand back and look at your work, because of its large size? Do you thrive in small spaces? If so, you may consider use of minimalistic furniture for spaciousness in a smaller location or to make a large space even larger. 

Whatever it is, let the lighting and space options you utilize lend themselves to assisting you in creating your best or even your worst, so long as you’re creating.

Air quality is non-negotiable for an art studio

Because some of the chemicals artists use when painting can be toxic, the way you ventilate your air is as important as the lighting and functionality, if not more so. You’ll want the air to move out of the space, not just churn around in it. 

Breathing and brush strokes are one. 

To ensure you are getting the best air quality and you don’t harm your health in the process, ventilation fans, air filters, and other DIY setups can be easy quick fixes to purify your air. How you ventilate your air will be determined by the chemicals you use, any present allergies you have, and your budget. 

It is then important to know what chemicals are in the products you’re using. These might also impact how you decide to ventilate.

Bear in mind, effectiveness is not always equal to expense. Do your research on what will work best for you. In some cases, you may simply be able to do the work outside, or with the garage, bay or windows open, with the help of a respirator.

Storage and organization are important in your art studio

How you store things and organize your fine art studio set up is very much linked to the functionality of the space. Earlier I mentioned items doing more than one thing, like the table. This is also great to bear in mind for other forms of furniture. 

Consider bringing in lift coffee tables with inner storage, lamps with pen holders or charges, benches with underseat storage, tiered rolling carts with storage and pull out drawers for supplies you’ll use most frequently.The rule of thumb is that most of what you use to organize and store you tools should have at least 2-3 functions. 

For instance if you know you like to have your items close by and don’t want to have to drag things across the floor but want them mobile, the tiered cart with wheels and bins is your go-to. Everything will stay within the bins and won’t slide off, while also being a storage, and effortlessly moveable. 

Are you inspired by your art studio setup?

The way you are inspired in your space is going to hinge on every aspect of it. 

Maybe you need music when you’re creating. If so grab a high quality speaker that you can hook up to via bluetooth. If you prefer records and absolutely have to have them in your studio have a portable record player that keeps you stimulated and lifts your mood.

Is everything in its place or is there chaos? It’s a common characteristic that creatives live and work in organized chaos (or just plain chaos), this doesn’t have to be you, nor does it apply to every creative. If mess slows you down, you’ll probably need to make some changes or ensure a tight cleaning schedule when your space gets disorganized.

Also, determine what color to paint the walls as this matters too. Neutral painted walls versus bright or light painted walls inspire something different as they evoke different emotions. As well as how your paintings or art piece will look against the wall. A safe color is usually white, but again, your space should be functional for you over all.

Photo by Khara Woods on Unsplash

When you’ve finally completed setting up your fine art studio, if you don’t stand back and feel compelled to create. Ask yourself where you see you in your space. There is nothing more disappointing than an artist who feels their space takes from what they can create instead of giving to it. Check out  MAC FINE ART to see what some personal fine art studio spaces are inspiring artists to paint and sculpt. 

And remember Pablo Picasso words, “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun”. 

Does your space free you to transform?