Thursday, December 22, 2011
Lair of the Artist
Regardless as to whether you will have a cubicle in an office or a freelance work-from-home sort of a job, setting up an efficient personal studio is of the utmost importance. As you will be spending quite a bit of time in this space, it will have to be pretty comfortable as well.
The sanctity of the studio is a very important aspect of its existence. It helps to have your studio in a room that has no other purpose, when you walk into your studio it will be for creation intentions only. Making the studio a sacred place helps with time management as you will be less distracted; humans are creatures of habit. The office is for work and the home is for play.
A Fine Art Studio
It’s important to find a table with an adjustable angle in order to get that perfect drawing surface. Clipping large sheets of paper to the surface of this table will give you a scratch pad to test out paint dabs, colored pencil lines, etc.
Can’t afford an expensive drafting table?
Here are several tutorials on how to build your own table (1, 2, 3, and 4)!
The light in a studio can make or break a work of art as some bulbs have different color temperatures than others. The best solution I have found is to have both an incandescent bulb and a fluorescent bulb shining on my workspace in even amounts. Have just one or the other will change the look of your work as incandescent bulbs produce yellow-orange wavelengths and the standard fluorescent bulb overemphasizes the color green.
If you can get your hands on some color-corrected light bulbs I would recommend using those; check your work periodically with the incandescent and fluorescent as an added precaution. You will not always be able to control how your art is displayed, so having it look good under most lighting circumstances will only help you in the long run.
Natural light is also great to work by, just keep in mind that every source of light has a distinct color temperature.
Handy chart about color temperatures and light bulbs.
More information about how color correct light bulbs work.
As a drafting table is typically slanted, having a secondary table or shelving unit in reach can be a lifesaver when it comes to supplies. The organization portion of setting up a studio does not have to be expensive, I personally use a shelving unit made of milk crates and storage segments made from coffee tins and canning jars. Use your imagination when setting up. You must know where everything is located and be able to reach it from your chair in order to further streamline the process.
If working with multiple types of physical media, its best to separate each medium into its own compartment. I mark acrylics with a smear of the color inside across the top to easily see the internal color when reaching for a tube. Clean constantly as paint gets everywhere, its is infinitely healthier to have a clean studio and really sucks to work in to a room reeking of solvent.
Still get everything messy? I have painting clothes, paper towels, and cleaner in an easy to reach place at all times. Dish soap and a sponge clean most things. If they don't work, open the window and try some mildew remover.
If you work with organic solvents (turpentine, etc.) it is especially important to keep a fan and open window handy. A closed off room can be a very dangerous place to paint! I would absolutely recommend wearing rubber gloves with cross ventilation (a fan pointed towards an open window). Oil solvents over a long period of time and in very rare cases can cause anemia of the bone marrow which can be deadly. Turpentine and acetone are the most dangerous, odorless mineral spirits and Gamsol the safest. However, by limiting your exposure in this way, this possibility is all but removed. If this freaks you out, use linseed oil instead. However, this extends the drying process immensely, as in weeks to months.
When using sanding paint, spraying aerosol, and dealing with possibly noxious powders, if you can, go outside. In large amounts, use an airbrush mask or bandana. Some inks and pens have been known to cause extreme nausea and fainting. An easy way to tell if precautions should be taken with materials is on the back. If there is a logo that says "ACMI" which means that the health implications are listed or "AP" which means non-toxic.
Finally, don't drink, eat or smoke anywhere near your art. This is the most important thing one can do to stay healthy when working with physical mediums. Paints can contain lead cadmium and other goodies, soldering has lead gas, and most mediums either end up on one's hands or in the air. Ingesting anything near chemicals allows much greater absorption as well as the risk of ingesting the medium on accident.
(This section is also written by Bridget, if you have any questions or concerns about this topic, contact her. She's sort of a geek about it and will talk your ear off.)
What does an ACMI label mean?
Fine Art Studio Setup Walkthrough by Stanislav Prokopenko!
The Digital Studio
Mac or PC? Tablet or Cyntiq? There is a ton to choose from in this arena so be sure to fully research your options. I personally use a PC that dual boots Windows and Linux in order to better run and implement various CG programs. I recommend getting an additional hard drive to back-up the contents of your regular drive onto at least once a week.
Don’t want carpal tunnel or back problems for the rest of your life? Invest in an ergonomic keyboard, mouse, and chair. Be sure to get up every once and a while and stretch, go for a walk when you feel you have been staring at the screen for too long.
Spend less money for more power by building your own computer. You can order the various parts from web sites like NewEgg or Tiger Direct.
My setup consists of a 1080p color corrected widescreen monitor as well as a smaller, older, and un-corrected screen. The main screen I use is for the various views in 3D modeling programs or the canvas in painting programs. All of my sculpting tools or paint brushes are on the secondary screen, alongside my music or whatever television show/movie I have running as well. Having a secondary, uncalibrated screen is also nice for previewing your artwork as it will be seen by most viewers.
Computer Monitor Calibration Tool
60 Digital Art Studio Setups
In closing, I will now mention the most important part of any artist’s studio…I cannot overstate it’s importance. The CoffeeMaker.
Good luck setting up,
Free Art Software:
(Like Corel Painter)
(Free Image Editor)
(Like Indesign or Publisher)