Tuesday, February 8, 2011

stu-stu-studio! (apologies to Phil)

I've always found it interesting to see photos of artist's studios. Whether its an old black and white shot of an antiques-laded 19th century atelier with 2-story windows or a shot of Frank Frazetta sitting at a modest table in a small room, I'm fascinated by the artists' workspace.

I hear many fellow illustrators have quite modest studios; often an extra room in an apartment or a corner of the living room. Some great artists make do with quite meager surroundings, and its a testament to how much of the creative process is just the artist, their hand and mind. Having said that, I have personally managed to forge a nice studio space over my garage, and it didn't cost me much to furnish the space. Having acquired my equipment over many years, I've managed to find things almost free, whether at used office equipment stores or sales of surplus from libraries and garage sales.

The below image is an overview of the room. I have my computer desk on the left and my drawing area on the right:
  1. Tunes: cds and stereo. I also listen to music and podcasts through the computer
  2. Portable 240volt high-powered heater. I use this to heat the space up quickly in the morning
  3. Standar 120volt heater. Maintains heat once room is comfortable. (did I mention where I live??)
  4. pile of painting clothes.
  5. Mirror to check poses and artwork in reverse.
  6. Rack of partially-finished ideas and sketches to revisit later
  7. Bookcase of reference and art books
  8. Notes and inspiration images.

The drawing area on the right has the following:
  1. Dual color-balanced art lamps.
  2. upright drafting table with drawing clip-board to hold pads of paper.
  3. Supplies caddy: pencils, erasers, tape, etc.
  4. Table to place materials such as paints and palette.
  5. 2 garbage cans: one for garbage, the other for paper to recycle
  6. Storage cabinet for mattes, canvases, etc
  7. Original fantasy paintings by others for inspiration
  8. Prints and clipped art for inspiration
  9. Table for supplies, solvents, etc. Also anatomical cast for reference

Finally to the right is the "finishing" area: the computer area:
  1. Cintiq tablet monitor
  2. Epson Stylus 1400 13x19 printer
  3. Cheapo black and white laser printer
  4. Mustek 11x17 large format scanner
  5. pile of cards for inspiration and reference for what I am currently doing on the computer.
  6. Thermometer
  7. light table/ cutting area for tracing and cutting paper
  8. Curtains to close off light to minimize monitor glare

As you can see I keep alot of inspiration art around me and I have tacked some notes up as reminders to avoid certain personal bad habits:


I realize I have a pretty sweet space compared to most illustrators. Up until a couple years ago I did all my work in a cubicle-office environment, and the work was pretty much the same. While I'm happy I have these resources I still believe 98% of your artistic horsepower originates from the space between your ears.

6 comments:

Kate Stone and David Gluck said...

I've been surprised to realize recently that some of my best work was produced under the worst circumstances, in the worst studio spaces. It really is all in your head.

Mike Sass said...

For sure, Kate! Even though I have a nice studio, creating is really just sitting in a chair and looking at a page, which has nothing to do with whats behind you. I think your mental state is the biggest factor, which needs to be in order more than your "stuff"

Off the Coast of Utopia said...

Great post Mike. Might be nice to hear from other artists on their ideal studio set up.

Glendon Mellow said...

Okay I'm just totally jealous. Love it.

My new one is better than my old one.

Mike Sass said...

Glendon, I think yours is pretty normal. Better than some, I suspect as well!

Glendon Mellow said...

You're probably right Mike.

Once I sat down and drew my ideal studio. But then I had to erase the big screen tv and Xbox.