Creating an art studio in your apartment requires a keen eye for space and the ability to maximize the potential of available surfaces. Below, I’ll outline the three separate key elements necessary for a good art studio, all of which can be fit into the average apartment.
Creating the Space
First and foremost, you need to create a space for yourself to work in. Naturally, the size of your apartment will determine what kind of studio you’re capable of creating for yourself, but the type of art you’re creating makes a big difference, too. Large paintings requiring an easel might require you to move some furniture out of the way to clear a space. Sculpting tools and/or metalworking tools will likewise need some space around them to avoid damaging your furniture. However, the items below are absolutely necessary to every art studio, although the exact type of items is subject to your interpretation. These are merely suggestions.
A Flat Surface to Work On
This is where the artwork itself will take shape, where your canvases will be drying, your sculptures solidifying, your materials stored and your art resting while it waits to be hung, placed or sold. If you’re going to use an easel, make sure it can fit between the top of this surface and your ceiling before you buy it!
It’s crucial you pick a surface large enough to accommodate all your various tools and supplies, and flat enough to allow paint and/or sculpting materials to sit and dry without running. Personally, I use my dining table for my art studio’s surface. It’s large, it’s flat, and since I live by myself, I can keep one side unused and just slide down there when I want to eat. However, since I do use my studio’s flat surface to eat on, that brings us to the second thing we need.
A Surface-Preserving Barrier
Unless you’re very fortunate, your studio’s flat surface serves dual purposes, as a kitchen table, coffee table or (as in my case) dining table. Since most art supplies are unwise to have near food, it’s imperative that you find some way of isolating your work space from your eating space. Vice versa, the other function served is to protect your furniture from unsightly damage caused by your creative process. A large table cloth, folded in half, provides a thick, cushioned workspace that both protects your table from damage and keeps your eating space clear of art supply residue. Best of all, cleanup is a snap: just store your supplies and the folded-up tablecloth under the table or in a closet, and you have a clean, undamaged surface!
If you paint or sculpt on the floor itself, without any kind of table to work on, then a thickly-folded drop cloth of some kind is doubly important. However, the basic concept remains the same.
Art Supply Storage Containers
The best way I’ve found to store all my art supplies (brushes, paints, towels, sponges, etc.) are in mason jars and plant pots. They’re sturdy, durable, and you don’t mind if they get some paint on them. For an extra-artistic touch, try finding or building a multi-tiered hanging basket system which you could suspend from you ceiling. It keeps your art supplies from cluttering up your limited space, and it gives a nice decorative Bohemian touch to the area.
Jordan Gaither: I’m a Communications major by trade, an artist by choice, a welder by day and a dancer by night (Okay, I made that last part up). Having lived in a succession of cramped, oddly-shaped apartments, I have a wealth of personal experience in apartment living, as well as arranging and decorating to maximize effect and livable space.