Adapting a Studio to a Changing Economy

Having a studio space in which to create your art is a gift. With that space–be it modest or illustrious–comes a sense of dedication to your craft. In a world that doesn’t always take art seriously, having an art studio establishes a sense of importance for creativity, as well as providing shelter from the storm of dissenters. Not to say that one must have a designated space, but it’s rather nice to, surely.

My creative spaces have ranged from an attic that my parents remodeled for me in their home, to a cleared space in my own living room, to (currently) a designated space in my unfinished basement. Browsing through the newly published Inside the Art Studio, I have to admit that my mouth nearly watered at some of the stunning spaces featured in this collection. In addition to the delightful photos, each featured artist shares their studio story, be it a space that was converted from a garage or church or, as in the case of Christine Ivers, a studio that was changed out of necessity. Her work space is shown here; the painting Mum’s the Word is on the easel. Read her story below.

Art studio of Christine Ivers

Adapting a Studio to a Changing Economy by M. Stephen Doherty

For 15 years starting in 1986, Christine Ivers ran a successful advertising agency in a Connecticut ranch house she converted for commercial use. But when the last recession hit and clients were going bankrupt, starting in-house shops, or sending their production work to Mexico and China, Ivers had to either give up or adjust. “I decided to go from one unstable industry to another,” she says with a hint of sarcasm. “I made up my mind to completely change the working space in my office and my home to create two studios in which I could paint, teach, and hold workshops.”

Ivers enlisted the help of her husband, three of her four daughters, their boyfriends, and a son-in-law to break down, move, or convert the office space and all the furnishings to serve her new priorities. “In the place of my desk, computers, cabinets, and furniture, I made room for myself and as many as eight students,” she explains. “The photo lamps became light sources for evening students, the conference table became a work surface for artists who didn’t want to stand at an easel, a trade-show stage became the backdrop for still lifes or models, and storage units were converted to bookcases for art books instead of client files.”

Because the basement and recreation room at her residence were larger than the office, she made use of the space for workshops. The area in the basement next to the furnace, hot water heater, and refrigerator became her personal studio. She was then able to host up to 15 students in one of the workshops she conducts every few months.

Many of the skills that made Ivers a successful businessperson have also served her well as an artist and teacher. Because of her experience with computer equipment, she can teach artists to work with digital photographs, adjust images in Adobe Photoshop, set up websites and upload photographs into art competitions. She hosts classes for adults and teaches young students in after school programs. She also helps high school students prepare their portfolios for college entrance.

“Most of the artists I know work at their kitchen tables, in spare bedrooms, in the laundry room, or wherever they can find space to spread out and be messy,” Ivers says. “I’m not alone in having to make adjustments in order to have space in which to create artwork. I’ve always believed that necessity is the mother of invention, and this has been one more experience that proves that point.” ~ M.S.D.

Click here for your copy of Inside the Art Studio: A Guided Tour of 43 Artists’ Creative Spaces. I know you’ll find inspiration within the covers.

Yours in art,
Cherie

Cherie Haas, online editor
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Bonus images from Inside the Art Studio:

How to make a home studio

Arthur Egeli’s art studio, featured in the chapter “Converting a Garage Into a Professional Studio”

Art studio design ideas

John Morra’s studio, featured in the chaper “Turning a Sacred Place Into a Work Space”

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