Staying organized in a small art studio


Art studio desk

Ever since I started creating art I have been working with a very small space. When I first started as a teenager I worked in my bedroom then got upgraded to a room in the basement of our house. When I graduated from college and got married I moved out and in our house I claimed one of the bedrooms for my art studio. Now this room is not very big, it's actually quite small it's about 115 square feet.

In my studio I do a lot of different things. Here are some of them:

  • Painting with watercolor
  • Drawing in ink or pencil
  • Scan, print and trim art prints
  • Photograph my process and video as well
  • Organize products for markets and wholesale orders
  • Make my handmade books
  • Computer work, editing marketing etc.
  • Ship orders

I should have a disclaimer here that I have been a complete unorganized mess when it comes to my studio and art supplies sometime last year. I knew that my disorganized and clutter studio was making me feel scattered and it was simply hard to work in. When I was a teenager making art for fun having papers and supplies all over the floor was fine but now I'm an adult trying to run a successful business and I need to be able to find the right supply when I need it, fast and efficiently. 

So I took it upon myself to completely organize my studio, I'm going to go through a list of things that I did to help get my studio on track into an environment that is more peaceful and conducive to art making. I'll also share the things that I bought or made to make my studio more organized and a happier place to be in really.

1) Get rid of things you don't need. Anything that I hadn't used in a year or more went in the donation bin or the trash. I went through and got rid of a whole bunch of fabric that I had in my studio from when I used to sew a lot, I donated it to a local non-profit that uses fabric. I got rid of art supplies that I hadn't used since college. I also went through my old sketches and papers of old art that I no longer wanted or needed and knew that I wasn't going to sell. It can be hard to part with these things but if it is not going to bring you any functionality or happiness by having it then you might as well clear up the space for functional and good things that you like to have around!

2) Move things that you don't use often to a storage room or a closet. That way you can make room for the things you actually need on a daily basis and you don't have to be distracted by those things that you only pull out to use once a month or once a year. For me this was random art supplies like acrylic paints that I like to have on hand but I hardly ever use. I also moved my excess packaging supplies to the basement and just kept enough in my studio to last me about a month.

3) Utilize wall space. I hate having messy horizontal surfaces; by that I mean I don't like to have things all over usable space like tables and chairs and desks. Despite the fact that it drove me crazy I had things all over the floor, my tables and desks and sometimes even the chair that I needed to sit in! I said enough was enough and I took everything off of those surfaces that didn't need to be there to make room for things that did like my scanner, my computer, label printer and my Canon printer. Where did I put all those things you ask? I bought a couple of things that really changed my organizational system for the better. One of those things were these pegboard-like wall organizers. They are only $36 and I love them!

Wall Control 30-P-3232W White Metal Pegboard Pack

And I got these to go with it for $15

Pegboard Hooks Assortment, 54Pcs Pegboard Hook Organizer Accessories Set with 20Pcs Peg Locks

That's a total of about $51 for a whole new way of organizing that has really helped me. I love that I can see everything I need right there displayed on the wall. Plus they look really nice.

Wall organizer

4) Go vertical. Use tall shelving that allows you to go up rather than using all of your floor space. I bought a couple shelving units from Target that helped me to organize all of my papers, plastic sleeves and matts for art prints as well as some of my original art pieces. I have a smaller shelf that holds watercolor paper, a roll of kraft paper and my scanner, label printer, and scale.

Here are the shelves from Target.

5 Tier Wide Wire Shelf - Made By Design

3 Tier Wide Wire Shelf - Made By Design

You can also get these baskets to hang on the side of the shelf for even more space.

Wire Shelf Accessory Basket - Made By Design

I use one to hold my mailers for packaging.

5) Use drawers to organize smaller items. I have some drawers that I bought from Aldi for like $25 and I use them to organize my stickers. I use little plastic containers as dividers in those drawers. 

Comparable drawers

Seville Classics Large 10-Drawer Organizer Cart

Plastic drawer dividers

Hobby Lobby Square Divider Trays

Drawer organizer full of stickers

6) Get Creative. I DIY'd and made a few of the things in my studio. When I couldn't afford to get more shelves I built one. When I found something comparable to what I had seen at IKEA but I could make it myself I did that. See 79 cent cups turned into hanging organizers for paintbrushes.

7) Constantly work to keep your space clean. For me as artist and business owner it is very hard to keep this cleanliness up. I consistently have to keep up the mindset of keeping everything organized and putting things back to where they go as I use them. Organizing it once may not be enough, you might have to try a few different things to see what system works for you.

art table

Shelf full of papers

When my studio was a mess I would actually feel down and stressed just being in there. I've realized that I'm the type of person that needs structure and organization, I need to know where that paintbrush is or where that type of paper is right away or I go crazy trying to find it. Especially if you are trying to make money off of your art, I know that organizing your studio will really help grow your productivity and efficiency, it did for me. Now when I go in my art studio in the morning I know whats there and I'm excited to get to work on the next new project in my little studio!

If you would like to see a tour of my studio check out the IGTV video on my Instagram page @everhard_designs and if you're not following me there, what are you waiting for! I post pics of my art every day and process vids once a week or so.

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