As creatives, the financial temptation to work in your living space is undeniable. Trust me, I've been there. Painting out of my small midtown apartment right out of college was fun for a time - snuggling in bed when it called my name, tidying up during "artist's block", checking the mail 3x a day. . .
But deciding to move into a *real* art studio (read: separated work space) not only saved my apartment furniture from more paint splatter, it also helped me refocus my work and become more profitable as a business owner!
But how does one find said studio? Glad you asked.
1. set your budget
Art studios can range from itty-bitty shared creative spaces to large, solo studios with a storefront. So, setting your budget and researching within your means is a great way to avoid the classic "sticker shock" when your Pinterest-worthy dream studio costs more than your apartment!
For me, my peace of mind came from a nifty little excel doc I whipped up to help me visualize my monthly expenses. Once I factored in my rent, health insurance, groceries, gas (you name it!) and subtracted that from my estimated monthly income, I determined that I had about $300 for a studio space per month.
2. pick your top 5
What are the top 5 things that come to mind when you think of *your* studio? What will make it functional for you in your line of work? What will make it a healthy space for you to create in?
As a painter, my top 5 are:
Easy access to a sink
An area to meet with clients
With these in mind, it's time to start your search!
3. start the search
This will be the most overwhelming part of the process - BUT - all of the open tabs, price comparisons, and conversations will be oh so worth it. Consider starting here:
Hot Pads - while this site is primarily used for apartment rentals, I have found dozens of chic studio spaces in Atlanta that would easily fit the bill when shared with a fellow creative (or two).
Ask a professor - professors in your local college art departments tend to have a good pulse on these types of things. Scroll through the online directory and email away!
Warehouses - yep, you heard me! Artists have a knack for finding rundown warehouses on the outskirts of town and making them into bustling (and affordable) hubs of creativity.
Carriage Houses - think mini studio above someone's detached garage. Sometimes these are listed on Craigslist/Hot Pads/ and Zillow as a place to live but you can easily flip it into an art studio. See one in your neighborhood that's not listed? Drum up a fair offer for the homeowners to consider. Never hurts to ask!
Use your network - ask to visit fellow artists at their studio spaces and poke around. There may be an availability in their building, another artist looking to go in on a studio with you, or they can refer you elsewhere.
All of the above helped me get several studio leads but I found my current studio through a good friend (and amazing ceramicist). She let me take her place on the waiting list at the Goat Farm Arts Center, an old warehouse in West Midtown, and the rest is history. So grab your rolodex, send a few emails, and start exploring.
4. take the tour
Once you get a few nibbles, grab a coffee and a friend and go see these spaces for yourself. Remember to ask yourself:
Am I in budget? Are there any hidden fees (parking/wifi/utilities) that I may have missed?
Are my top 5 criteria met? If not, am I okay with that?
Will my creative property be safe here?
Am I vibing with my future studio mates?
*AM I FEELING INSPIRED TO CREATE IN THIS SPACE?*
When I toured my studio, my space was smaller than I originally imagined but it DID in fact check everything off my list. Most importantly, the creative energy in the studio was palpable and I was excited to start painting again - like run to my car for my checkbook excited.
Next thing I knew, I was saying 'SAYONARA' to my makeshift living room art studio and 'HELLO' to a space with ample light, a cute coffee shop for client meetings, an art sink (!!!), and 8 creative, funky, and inspiring studio mates that motivate me everyday.
I wish you all the best in your search, and if you're ever in Atlanta, I know a great coffee place (;