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Where do you make your art?

This was my old setup. I had a lot more room to work, which also I had a lot more room to create clutter.

This was my old setup. I had a lot more room to work, which also I had a lot more room to create clutter.

Where do you make your art?

It’s a simple question with a plethora of answers. Is it a corner in your apartment? The dining room table? Outside with nature?  A spare room of your house? Or as in my case...a walk-in closet.

Wherever this magical spot is, it is in fact magic cause we’re all Wizards, its main purpose has always been the same: it’s your secret place (studio) for making amazing art.

This won’t, or rather, shouldn’t require you spending a lot of money. Most of us don’t need a ton of room to work. You just need a spot to call your own, that no one else touches, where you make your art.

When I lost my corner studio in the condo and converted a walk-in closet into my studio, initially I panicked. I was used to having a large corner of the condo that I could use for all my gear: monitors, books, easel, art supplies, random things I’ve collected throughout the years.

As life would have it that had to come to an end, but what I learned in the process has been phenomenal.  For starters, it is important to keep your studio and rest space separate. You cannot, should not, have the two in the same room the way I did. My productivity has gone way up since I started working in my own studio away from...well everything.



Some items sprinkled throughout my office. Destiny is one of my favorite games. Bruce the Bat keeps me company while I work. Cameo Creeps and their dead friends. Wall of inspirational items I own.

Some items sprinkled throughout my office. Destiny is one of my favorite games. Bruce the Bat keeps me company while I work. Cameo Creeps and their dead friends. Wall of inspirational items I own.

I learned to sell, donate, or simply toss things I didn’t need. I learned to keep only that which I need to get my work done. Everything else is a distraction. I’m not saying your studio can’t have things you love just for the sake of having them, I mean mines got Destiny, Star Wars and Comics all over it, but the larger percentage of what’s in your studio should be there to keep you motivated, stress-free, and productive.

Motivation and productivity go hand in hand.


“Motivation and productivity are twin concepts in organizational development. First, motivation works as the means toward attaining productivity as an end. Another point: Motivation is the best cause to reach productivity as a favorable effect. Lastly, motivation is the stimulus to trigger productivity as a response. All these are concrete connections between the two factors.”



So let's start with what you should have in your studio. (These can differ from person to person)

  • The right colors.

  • Good lighting.

  • Space to work.

  • Plants.

  • Books for inspiration.

  • Art for inspiration.

  • Snacks.

  • A giant bottle of water.


Color and Lighting

Having the right color and lighting is one of the most effective ways to stay focused. Research shows different colors and light levels can have a variety of psychological effects on you. I painted the walls a neutral color even though I wanted to paint the office gray like Batman.

I installed Energetic Daylight LED bulbs. It gives the room an almost sunlight glow.


Space to Work

When it comes to space, the more you have the more freedom you will feel. Alas, we’re not all blessed with spacious homes. Some have spare rooms, while others use open areas as they can find it, or if you’re like me you convert a walk-in closet into your own personal Batcave.


Plants

Plants! For the love of Gan have some plants. Plants have been known to reduce stress levels. Some of our spaces don’t have windows so this will give you a small view of nature which has been known to kickstart your mind. It’s a small task to take care of them each day.

Here’s a list of some good low-light, low-maintenance plants:

  • Snake Plant

  • Staghorn Fern

  • Pothos

  • Maidenhair Fern

  • Rex Begonia


Books for Inspiration

Books. The great bane of all Artists. Don’t even tell me you don’t own more books than you know what to do with. I had to go through all my books and decide on which ones I couldn’t part with, which ones I could donate (I will never throw a book away), and which ones are imperative to my studio. The ones I couldn’t part with I placed in storage. I will bring them back out for my future home which will have a large library. The ones I didn’t keep I donated. The ones that are imperative are the ones I need daily for reference and inspiration. The ‘Neverending Story’ isn’t there just cause I like the cover.

Books that I use for reference & inspiration. My wall of art. This is only one side.

Books that I use for reference & inspiration. My wall of art. This is only one side.

Art for Inspiration

Having artwork of Artists you love and look up to can be a huge inspiration while creating your own work. My wall if mainly covered with work from my Art Family.

Snacks and a Giant Bottle of Water

You will get hungry and if you don’t have food nearby you will walk away to get it, get distracted, and spend more time than necessary to get back to work. Don’t do this to yourself. Have some healthy and non-healthy snacks near.

I tend to drink a lot of water. I invested in a large bottle that I usually fill a few times a day. You have to stay hydrated people.


Staying Organized

Someone’s always gonna call your studio messy and that’s cause they’re ignorant.

I read a book once that said people with highly organized desks often struggle to find what they are looking for because they’ve over-complicated their studio, while those with come clutter and disorder are always finding things they forgot about and usually have great inspirational moments. Also, it’s more stress-free to just let it be and stop focusing on being perfect.

After all, a cluttered studio may actually be the sign of an artistic genius. Messy desks, in my opinion, are a sign of a very motivated mind.


“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” - Albert Einstein




Staying Creative

Having your own studio will train your mind to stay creative. It’s like turning a switch off and on in your head. You can train your mind to stay productive and designated times. Did you know this? Motivation, focus, productivity, and creativity can be turned into positive habits just like all the other habits you have.

So think of your studio as a portal. You step through to your Fortress of Solitude, you create art, you step back through into reality to finish those tasks. Basically, your mind will begin to form a habit of “This is where I create art. While I’m here that’s my main objective.”


Final thoughts

Just keep in mind that no matter what ends up being your studio, you have created a space where you can work the way you need to work. Separate working on your art from other tasks in your life. And don’t make the space only about work. There should be things there that inspire you that keep you motivated and focused.



Here are some Studio spaces, starting with my own:

This is my current studio setup. Music and social on top, emails and reference under that, and artwork on the Cintiq. Motivational quotes will eventually fill the wall in front of me. Allen Panakal -  www.ancientones.net

This is my current studio setup. Music and social on top, emails and reference under that, and artwork on the Cintiq. Motivational quotes will eventually fill the wall in front of me. Allen Panakal - www.ancientones.net

Tawny Fritz -  www.tawnyfritz.com

Tawny Fritz - www.tawnyfritz.com

Melissa Gay =  www.melissagay.com

Melissa Gay = www.melissagay.com

Brian Colin -  www.creaturecuration.com
Michael Manomivibul -  www.mikemanoart.com

Michael Manomivibul - www.mikemanoart.com

Marc Scheff -  www.marcscheff.com

Marc Scheff - www.marcscheff.com


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Allen Panakal is an Artist from Chicago, IL.
His main body of work these days focuses on his series The Ancient Ones.

You can see his work at www.AncientOnes.com or follow him on instagram @allenpanakalart.