I’ve been a little quiet on here lately. Since Lockdown has started to ease, and it has felt a little safer to be out in the world once more, life has become a bit busier once again.
I’ve recently sent off the final artwork for my first illustrated book (I can’t wait to show you all); started a new mapping project over at FionaGowen.co.uk and completed a big painting project that I’m not allowed to show yet.
But, some more exciting news, is that at the end of April, myself and two other illustrators got the keys for our first studio space together.
I’ve been working from home for the past nine years now, since going freelance in 2012, and have always struggled to find a balance between work and home life; switching off, and the isolation that working from home brings with it. Previously (in the beforetimes) I did craft fairs in order to meet others and get a social fix, but over the pandemic, that just wasn’t safe. However, with more and more people working from home, and isolated from others, I came to realise that it’s normal for it to get a bit much. I was finding it hard because it is hard. It’s hard not having any human contact, it’s hard managing distractions, it’s hard separating work from home life when they overlap so much, especially when you work for yourself. Seeing others experience this, made me realise just how much I needed to get out.
After seeing a post on Social Media from another local illustrator/printmaker, I began to do a little research, and a space was available that looked like it might be suitable. However it was big and way out of my price range, so, I banded together with two other home-bound illustrators, and we went to view the space.
We were immediately convinced that it was the right thing to do. With three of us sharing, it was financially doable. It needed tidying and a bit of fixing up, but it was light, lockable, had good access, big windows, a sink, and nice, arty neighbours. What’s more, we were told we could do what we wanted to it, and dogs were allowed in the space too.
After signing the paperwork, we were given the keys and got to work fixing it up. Within a week or two, and after we’d got through a giant tub of white paint, we had a lovely light and airy space, and it was time for furniture.
I took this opportunity to upgrade my office setup. I drew up the space on Illustrator, and mapped out what furniture I could legitimately bring to my 1/4 of the room. I bought some sit/stand desk legs and built myself a small desktop out of a couple of sheets of plywood.
I’d also had my eye on making an Ikea Kallax table to use when drawing. I wanted something on wheels that could be moved out of the way, but could also double up as storage and be big enough to be used for printmaking and small workshops.
I used the off-cut of ply from the desktop, a big piece of MDF, 3x kallax units, some casters and a LOT of screws. It’s turned out really well! It has bowed a bit in the middle from the weight, but I’m hoping an extra caster will fix that.
Over the past month we’ve added a sofa and some more shelves to make it an extra nice place to be.
It’s made a massive difference to my mental health to have somewhere to work, outside of my house. The walk there is good and to have lovely studiomates to share ideas, recommendations and thoughts with is wonderful.
We’ve signed up to take part in our first open studios this September, and are looking forward to opening our doors and meeting lovely customers and clients. I’ll post more about our plans for it at a later date.