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The Importance of Choosing the Right Artist Studio

artist sitting next to abstract  artwork

During the winter months the productivity of some artists can fall. Shorter days and colder commutes can lead to a reduction in motivation. To keep your creative channels flowing during the changing seasons it is essential that you cultivate the right environment. Having the right studio is key to this.


I have heard plenty of studio horror stories. Artist’s that have chosen studios in railway arches with leaky roofs that shake with brick dust every time a train passes over. Studios that are beautiful in the summer but so cold in the winter that paints freeze. Spaces that are full of people with poor security and ‘private view’ parties throughout the week.


My studio is a fantastic space and I spend as much time there as possible. It is my mecca, my second home. Winter, especially after Christmas, is my favorite time to paint because there are no distractions. It is actually the time of year when I create the most artwork. I cannot emphasize enough how important it has been for my artistic practice to have a studio that I love going to and working in. 


Warning: before you sign the lease on a studio make sure you have fully considered your requirements and that the space will work for you all year round.

Artist Studio Checklist

Year-Round Temperature and Humidity

The heat of summer and the dark, cold depths of the winter can have drastic effects, not just on your motivation but also on the materials that you work with.


Extreme temperatures in summer can increase drying times and chemical reactions. Acrylic paints especially can change texture and degrade. During the winter paints can freeze as can your fingers when you are trying to work. Water pipes are also vulnerable to freezing which can cause catastrophic bursts and leaks.


Humidity is another key point to check. Look out for signs of mold or dampness. Materials such as canvas and wood can expand or contract depending on the amount of moisture in the air and the temperature of a room.



I prefer to have very good natural light in my studio. I find it uplifting and it is also the best way to color check work. The lighting I use when it's dark outside mimics natural light so the quality has little difference during my working hours. Consider both the quality of the natural light and artificial light in the space: the type of bulbs and fixtures (fluorescent tubes, daylight bulbs, halogen etc.), the angle and strength of lighting, how it will change throughout the day and different seasons.


Water Source

Whether cleaning your materials or putting the kettle on, it is important to have a water source either within your studio or facilities close to your working space.


Fresh Air

I need fresh air all the time because I work with materials like resin and spray paint. For artists that work with oils and solvents the ability to use an extractor fan or open a window is essential.


Structural Integrity, Safety and Security

Check that the windows and doors are secure and lockable. Make sure the structural integrity of the space is good. If the studio is within a big building does it follow fire regulations? These are all important considerations.


Noise Pollution

While I’m working in my studio I like to listen to books and podcasts. I like having a background ambiance but I don’t want to have other people's noise – and some artists thrive with loud music on! When you view a space, especially if there are many studios close together, make an assessment on sound proofing and if the spaces are open cubicles, find out if the studio has a policy on noise pollution.  


Opening Hours

Often artists have to work a day job and can only go to the studios in the evenings and weekends. For this reason, many larger studio complexes have late opening hours. When looking at studios consider what times you currently work and into the future what requirements you may have in terms of opening hours and access.


Shared Facilities

I’m a big tea drinker so having access to a shared kitchen or having the facilities within my studio space is important to me. Many larger studio complexes have shared bathrooms, kitchens, bicycle stands, parking spaces or drop off points (this is really important if you have to move work from your studio to a show or another location), some even have lounge areas for socializing on breaks. For those of you who have other specialist requirements, such as printmakers, you will need to assess shared print rooms and equipment.



Sometimes it can be tempting, if not essential, to find studios in cheaper locations. However, if you work late at night, especially if you go to and from your studio alone, make sure the building is on a well-lit road, preferably with other businesses open and people around. Some studios can be in strange, obscure locations that are very quiet and dark at night. Especially for the women reading – put your safety first.



Finally, a studio can be much more than a space to work in. Within my building there are other artists and we support each other a great deal. Some studio complexes offer many networking opportunities which can be career changing. When looking at a studio, consider the community you will be joining. In NYC there are studio complexes such as TI Art Studios in Redhook, Brooklyn, that have cultivated really positive working communities. Does the studio organize open studio events, critique sessions that you can join, social networking events and opportunities? Does it have its own gallery or exhibition space? You never know when an important opportunity or collaboration will come your way.


Good luck with finding your dream studio space!


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