It’s no secret that artist studio space is a valuable commodity. From painters to sculptors, from photographers to mixed media artist – every artist needs their own artistic space in order to create the best work possible. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the top 9 artist studio space requirements for the perfect art studio.
In summary, you need to ensure your artist studio space requirements cover suitable lighting that meets your needs whether it be natural or artificial lighting, flooring that is long lasting and non-slip, enough storage to keep the studio clean and tidy and have everything you need close by. You also need access to cleaning materials and a sink. Add to your requirements some power outlets, heating and cooling and a place to chill out during or after a long session creating art and you have most of your basic requirements covered. I also cover 13 basic equipment that all artist studios need.
Keep reading as I explore all these options in a little more detail.
Why do artists need Studios?
Having a studio space allows the artist to focus on work while they’re at work and not get distracted by everyday life or family. Think of the artist studio as the office for the artist.
Some artists like to work from home or build a studio at home but detached from the main living area. This works for some artist, especially if they need to be around family or have others in the house that may not fully understand what it’s like to be an artist.
Many artist studios are built into their home but within a converted garage, spare bedroom or basement space. These spaces offer good lighting and ventilation – which is ideal when working with art materials such as paints, clay etc.
Another great bonus of having this type of studio at home is that you could work on projects while your kids are sleeping or otherwise occupied! Having said all this however; there will come times where the artist needs “a little peace and quiet” away from all distractions, and that’s where a dedicated studio space is needed.
What does an artist studio need?
Artist studios need to have all the equipment that you are used to at home, just in a bigger quantity. This includes storage room for work in progress and finished projects as well as your supplies.
It is always best practice to keep everything organized so you can find what you’re looking for quickly without wasting valuable time – especially if deadlines are close! A clear out every now and again will help with this too.
Depending on how big or small an artist’s workspace needs to be depends on the size of their budget; some artist spaces may require custom built units/furniture while others could use existing furniture – which would free up more funds.
However one piece of advice here is not necessarily go overboard and use what you already have and then expand as the need arises.
What basic equipment do I need in an art studio?
Art studios vary from artist to artist, but there are some basics that always need to be included.
In an ideal situation it would have plenty of natural light for those bright days when the sun is out so they can work outside if needed or to just take advantage of the bright natural light, but this isn’t always possible depending on where artist spaces are located.
Some artists also like to work through the night. I for one work full time and can only paint once the family has gone to bed, so my most productive hours are in the evening. That is when you need to consider artificial lighting as well.
You will also need enough space to house your artist materials, canvas or paper and an easel.
Without the next basic equipment, your art studio is just a messy room. You need some basic equipment that will facilitate you in creating actual art.
- A comfortable chair. I have two, one is a wooden chair that I use to sit and stand and lean things against and another is a 1 seater sofa that I sit in when I want to relax or look at my art in progress from a distance.
- A toolbox filled with pencils, crayons, markers, erasers, rulers, tacks, clips, sticky tape, masking tape, chalk, pins, a box cutter knife and elastic bands. You will waste so much time looking for these on random days. Best to have them nearby and ready.
- Pencils, brushes, paints, charcoal etc
- Empty jars – you will needs these more than you think. For holding wet brushes, for washing brushes, for cleaning fluids, for making a large wash etc.
- Old clothes – old shirts, pants or shoes to either wear so you don’t get your good clothes dirty or as rags to wipe up and clean.
- An easel or two – I have one large one that can handle large canvas paintings and a small outdoor one that I can easily fold up and take with me. I also use the small one to hold any photographs or drawings that I need to refer to. Some artists love an artist donkey that allows you to sit on or work from.
- If you are going to use life models then consider a change area and a few spare clean robes and a nice seat to sit on.
- A mirror – as big as you can fit. Why? I always like to look at my works using the “mirror test” to see if my artworks have any perspective or design flaws. The mirror helps show these mistakes much better than a trained eye.
- A bookshelf – small or large, we all have reference books that we use.
- Tissue boxes or wipes – for obvious reasons but also to clean up small mistakes and wiping up.
- Cotton swabs – I use these more than I care for. They are perfect for small touch ups, for targeted cleaning etc.
- A thick blanket – to either stay warm, keep a model warm or block out the light from a window.
- A waste bin.
Now let’s look at the top 9 artist studio space requirements for the perfect art studio starting with lighting and then moving all the way through to having somewhere to reflect on the work or rest (or even enjoy a meal in quiet).
What lighting do I need in an art studio?
This really depends on your artist studio space, how you work and what you hope to achieve. If the artist is trying to capture natural light than large windows are ideal for this type of artist studio lighting.
If however an artist needs artificial lights then it would be wise to consider track lighting first, which could include table lamps with adjustable arms or clamp spotlights that can attach directly onto a desk or easel top (the latter providing more stability).
These types of lights should focus downward not upwards as artists will want to avoid glare when working at their artworks.
Alternatively there are some new LED track systems available now where multiple lights head in toward the artwork without ever pointing upward – always point them down! I am a big fan of diffused neon lights as I light strong bright lights as they help me see colors better.
I also keep a couple of LED lamps that I use to really brighten up specific areas or create shadows where needed when working with a live model.
I found this post quite detailed and useful as it covers everything you would ever want to know about how to set up lighting for an art studio.
Flooring is also one of the more important artist studio space requirements. Artists need to ensure that their floors are clean and dry, with no loose rugs or carpeting.
Floors also should be easy to clean and be non slip.
I found tiled floors or plain concrete floors with a large rug that you don’t mind getting paint on a perfect combination. If you can’t afford that, try linoleum flooring. It is cheap, versatile and easy to lay and replace.
I have also worked on polished wood floors and they were great but I did worry about denting them and spilling various corrosive materials on the wood.
How do I protect my floor in an art studio?
You want to protect your artist studio floor from any spills or stains with a simple, cheap artist studio paint rug. These are good for protecting the artist studio floor and can be rolled up when you need more room in your artist studio space.
You’re going to need somewhere to keep the artist studio supplies.
There are plenty of types and styles of artist studio storage systems that can be built down into a basement or up to your ceiling, depending on your needs and budget.
I have an old wardrobe that I salvaged and use that to store my rolled up canvases. I also use wall mounted shelves that were purchased from a hardware store.
The same result could have been achieved using planks to timber fastened to the wall using good quality but inexpensive L brackets.
On these you can place plastic tubs, baskets, boxes etc.
At waist level I like to store my paints and brushes and these usually sit in old tool boxes that sit on a desk that is near my easel so that everything I need is close by as I work.
Cleaning is very important and I try not to leave paint or brushes sitting around.
I like my artist studio space to be as clutter free as possible with everything in their own place, close at hand but also easily stored away when they’re no longer needed.
In one of my storage containers I keep lots and lots of old t-shirts, socks and rags that I use to clean up paints and spills. I also have some sponges and cleaning materials.
I also had a small sink installed but this is optional. When I worked from inside the house I would just use the laundry tub to wash my brushes and equipement.
Whether you want to have powered lighting or listen to music or turn on a fan/AC in summer or heater in winter then you are going to need access to a power outlet.
This artist studio space requirement should be easy to fulfill by ensuring you have access to at least one power outlet.
Most rooms have one or two available but having a few dedicated power outlets where you really need them is worth the expense of a licensed electrician.
If you’re getting lighting installed specifically for your studio using an electrician, think of all the other electrical related jobs you could get them to do while you have them on site. This will save some costs.
You don’t always need AC blowing or a furnace to keep you warm. But that all depends on where you live. If you’re in a place where the summers are hot and humid, or there is no central heating/cooling then installing some form of cooling will be your top priority.
You need to consider what type of artist studio space requirement this falls under because it could also fall into electrical work if you have air-conditioning that uses an outlet.
Basically ask yourself how much control do I want over my temperature?
Where I live the summers get really hot but my winters are mild. That is why I had a 1.5 hp split system AC installed. It blows cold enough air to make the studio feel nice and enough warm air to survive the winters.
Some studios don’t need any aircon or heating. Some only need a small fan or foot heater.
Soundproofing is another artist studio space requirement.
If your neighbors can hear you painting, drumming or playing guitar through the walls then this is a problem! Soundproofing also works for you, I like to not be distracted by outside noise such as mower or leaf blowers or car horns being blown 24/7.
I also like to paint with music blaring and as I mentioned I work late at night so the last thing I want to do is wake everyone up!
There are some easy ways around soundproofing an artist studio space like building double brick walls and using acoustic insulation materials inside them (if you have the budget).
On the cheaper side of the solution spectrum you could insulate using good old foam stuck to the walls or install thick curtains with good seals on windows which does wonders.
But all of these take time and money so don’t expect it to happen overnight!
This one is quite important to me as I actually did have a break-in once. I’ve seen artist studios robbed before and it’s not pretty! The last thing you want is for someone to steal all of your equipment or break into the artist studio space and trash everything.
Installing good locks on doors and windows will definitely help but if you’re really worried about security then installing a burglar alarm could be an option too.
I installed a ring doorbell so I could see who was coming and going but I also installed a couple of super cheap wifi enabled cameras with motion sensors that send an SMS to my phone whenever they are activated and I can actually look at the live video footage of the studio to see if I need to call the police or just assume it was an insect (or ghost!).
Rest and Relaxation space
Lastly, you don’t work work work all day or night in an artist studio. It is important to have a place where you can rest and relax.
My artist studio has an artist lounge with comfy couches, snacks & drinks for visitors who drop by unexpectedly or are just having one of those days when they need some comfort food but I also love that my artist studio comes with it’s own private patio.
When the weather’s nice I like to sit out there in the early morning while drinking coffee before starting work or at night after everyone else goes home so I can enjoy the stars without city lights getting in my way.
How do you layout an art studio?
An art studio layout is very subjective. Not all artists have the same requirements when it comes to an art studio layout.
For some, it is important to have a space for painting and another artist studio layout might be more interested in having a computer with the latest design software.
In order to know what you will need when planning an artist studio layout there are several things that one should take into consideration:
- What type of artwork do you produce? Are they large scale or small scale?
- Do you work with toxic materials and need ventilation?
- Do you need space to walk around an artwork?
- Do you tend towards paintings or digital art projects?
- How much time can you spend working on your work each day?
These questions help determine whether or not natural light is necessary and how big the room needs to be. If spending long hours inside has negative health effects then try putting windows near where you’ll sit most often so that they aren’t blocked by large pieces of furniture such as shelves.
Try to be near a source of natural light and natural fresh air. These will do wonders for your mental health as you work away the long hours.
In summary, the layout of the artist studio should be one that facilitates you getting what you need when you need it and for you to be comfortable.
Try to use furniture that can be moved around until you find your zen layout.
If you need some inspiration, I have a link below that helps. It also helps to draw an outline of your studio space from a top view (use grids if you can) and mock up where your equipment and furniture could fit before you actually start moving furniture around.
Here are 20 art studio ideas that you can use to visualize all the requirements into as they show various layouts that each contains one of more of the studio elements we have just gone through.
Can I use a storage unit as an art studio?
While technically you could, most storage units are rented spaces and you will find the rental agreement will stipulate that the space if meant to be used for storage purposes only.
One of the artist studio space requirements is a large area that’s entirely yours. A storage unit might be able to help you here if your house isn’t big enough for an artist studio but it should only be temporary.
Storage units tend not to have access to natural light or access to fresh air.
While a self-storage facility may give you peace of mind when it comes to storing all your art supplies and equipment in one place where they’ll stay safe until next time they aren’t designed to be a productive art producing space.
Artist studio space requirements for the perfect art studio – wrap up!
I hope this article has given you some inspiration as to what artist studio space requirements are necessary when looking for that perfect art studio location.
Remember these are just my artist studio space requirements though so make sure whatever artist studio spaces you do end up choosing have everything that YOU need in there!
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