Painting, photography, dance, music, animation — whatever kind of art you enjoy, you need a place to make it happen. And we at Art&Seek want to see that space. We’re creating a gallery of art spaces in North Texas, a virtual studio crawl. To get things started, we’ve asked several area artists to show us their space. You can browse below, and then show us yours.
We were inspired to create the studio tour by a contest called Make Space for Artists, sponsored by La Reunion TX and The Dallas Museum of Art. Starting Nov. 6, you can design your dream studio at the Tech Lab inside the museum’s Center for Creative Connection. The folks at the lab will get you started using Google Sketch Up. (If you don’t know how to use it, don’t fret; they’ll show you. And you can e-mail it to yourself and finish at home.) The contest runs til Feb. 12. A jury will judge the entries and cash prizes will be awarded to the winners – a little something to help make that dream studio a reality.
Til then, take a spin through our studio tour:
Medium: Oils (98 percent of work), acrylics, pencil
Number of years in this space: 14 months
What do you enjoy most about working here? Learning every time I go in that I need a bigger space. And, of course, being able to work from home and watch my daughter (14 months) grow and be around her and mom instead of having to travel somewhere else. Also, it makes it easier just to work and then take a break to be a family guy by simply walking 20 feet. My work hours are whenever, and it’s easier to get motivated without the extra hassles
How would you improve it if you could? It’d be better organized and quadruple the size. I’d also install a better exhaust/ventilation system. I would like to be in a space with other artists working or a creative atmosphere as well. I will probably move in October.
Medium: All things paper, new and old. Also paint, leather, thread and ink. Many things happen in this space: paper conservation and restoration, bookbinding and book repair, letterpress printing, paper marbling, alternative photography, paper sculpture and collage. I’m also a potter, but that’s a separate and very messy studio.
Number of years in this space: 3
What do you enjoy most about working here: The light is fantastic, and the space has a good energy for me. It’s laid out well and has beautiful old features like partial brick walls and wide plank floors – a lot of character. I’m also surrounded by lots of creative folks in my building, as well as the neighborhood. It’s definitely a home away from home for me.
How would you improve it if you could? That would probably be something I couldn’t control, like the incredibly loud air conditioning, or the direction of the sun during the late afternoon in the summer. Maybe I’d build in some vertical space, maybe expand to the space next door so I could bring my pups in with me. All in all, I wouldn’t change much.
Medium: Monochromatic print
Number of years in this space: Nine
What do you enjoy most about working here: It’s attached to my home.
How would you improve it if you could? More space, better storage, a window at the other end for cross breeze.
Medium: Acrylic and 2D mixed media on canvas and hardboard
Number of years in this space: 3 years in my home studio
What do you enjoy most about working here? I enjoy the feeling I have when I am in the space – it feels happy, inspiring and always calling out for me to come inside and start creating.
How would you improve your space if you could? I’d add directional lighting to the walls, then I would build a countertop around the room for more working space, gluing area, and a drying station for finished work. I’d also install a wet sink and convert the current closet to shelving and make it a supply storage area so I could use all the rest of my tabletop space for just work and not supplies. I envision box-like shelving units across one of the small walls that also houses art books, my tiny flat screen monitor so I can watch instructional videos and an area for my iPod and speakers so I can listen to music while creating.
Number of years in this space: 1.5. We turned that room into a studio about a year and a half ago. Working at Starbucks was becoming increasingly more difficult (lack of good chairs) and expensive, and I needed a home base to keep all my books and promotional materials.
What do you enjoy most about working here? I can look out the window and watch our kids playing in the back yard
How would you like to improve it, if you could? It’s pretty much perfect for me. I can be at home with the family, shut the door and get some writing done. That’s pretty much living the dream for me.
Number of years in this space: I’ve been at this space going on my fifth year. It was an accident that it fell into my lap. A fire previously broke out in the apartment, and the city said no one could actually live here but it was OK to use as an office or like reason. I work in various media: acrylics, prismacolor, oil, pastels, water color, spray paint , acetone and rubbing alcohol – and lots of pencil and sandpaper.
What do you enjoy most about working here: The thing I enjoy the most about working here is the solitude and the place actually speaks to me in a creative way. I can separate myself from my surroundings and go on journeys that only speak to me. I can travel to other places within the studio and bring back elements that are then applied to my canvas. I can go to places that I could never go to in another environment
How would you improve it if you could?: The only thing I would change is, if I could share the experience with other artist and students. I would love to add a printing and silk-screening area and a darkroom. And maybe a fast-food drive through (kidding about the fast food part). I think it would be cool if I could do this live on the air daily so others could see what an artist’s routine is like.
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Medium: Music (and occasionally foam, felt and fake fur).
Number of years in this space: Two
What do you enjoy most about working here? Every room is a different project – we have separate rooms for writing, recording, building puppets, teaching lessons, etc. It’s nice to have it all at your fingertips.
How would you improve it if you could? I wish we had more storage and it was better insulated. We work and live in a residential area – it’s an old neighborhood, and the walls are thin. So we have to be very conscious of our volume. It would be a dream to have better sound insulation.
Medium: music, acrylic, water color, ink
Number of years in this space: 3
What do you enjoy most about working here: It’s very personal and comfortable. It’s put together to inspire.
How would you improve it if you could? It’s perfectly imperfect.
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Medium: Body and music (she’s a dancer)
Number of years in this space: I’ve dance at KJ Studio for 14 years.
What do you enjoy most about working here? Not only is it a wonderful studio with plenty of space, but it is also both familiar and comfortable. We have wooden and marley floors, so depending on which type of stage we will be performing on, we can rehearse accordingly.
How would you improve it if you could? Our smallest studio has a pole right in the middle of it, holding the building in place. Though it’s not exactly possible, I would love to remove it.
Media: Photography, mixed-media, digital arts
Number of years in this space: 3 years
What do you enjoy most about working here?I love being an Oak Cliff artist and having a studio in an artist Co-op. It is completely open, with large dock doors to the outside, a private bathroom with shower and wifi. I did put the wifi in myself. The space can be used for all of my artistic endeavors. I am a mixed media artist in the fine-art world and a commercial photographer. I enjoy that my space can be used as a clean or a dirty work space. The large doors to the street allow me to move large sets into the space and move big art out. It is conveniently located to the Bishop Arts District, which I walk to for lunch on occasion. I was going to clean the studio but I decided to leave it in working shape for pictures.
What would you improve if you could?I would make a few cosmetic changes, but all in all it’s a great space.
Medium: I have been a painter and printmaker for a long, long time. My paintings now are mostly acrylic with collage on panel. Prints range from solarplate etchings (a fairly non- toxic technique) to monotypes and collagraphs. In recent years I have been making collages of repurposed prints and other found paper. My photographs are of people and places, near and far.
Number of years in this space: 10
What do you enjoy most about working here? While I have had a studio in Dallas since 1972, I built another one at my ranch near Sherman in Bells, Texas, in 2000. It was built large enough to enable me to do anything I want to do. It accommodates a large Takach etching press, has huge windows bringing in an abundance of natural light and built-in storage and shelves. I designed the counter tops to be deeper than normal for ease of working. There is water and a stained concrete floor. Heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer. Fabulous lighting. Absolute quiet except for the birds.
How would you improve it if you could? It was built to my specifications and has proven to be the dream studio I hoped it would be.
Medium: Oil (fine art) Digital (design, illustration)
Number of years in this space: I’ve been in my current space for a little over 4 years now. Previously, I was in the White Swan Building downtown (now House of Blues) for 10 years.
What do you enjoy most about working here? I really enjoy the 9-inch wide, 80-year-old pine floors, but I also enjoy the antique work tables, the mixed bag of old furniture, patinated metal yard chairs and distressed wood awnings and screen doors (on the inside). I also enjoy all my art books, stacks of paintings, paints, canvases and brushes. The 800-square-foot studio is over our extended garage, so it is up and away from the rest of the house – far enough away to be productive, but close enough to stay connected with my family. I also love all the windows that bring in lots of natural light. On nice days, I enjoy opening my 2nd floor studio door to a lush, green backyard full of trees, birds and passers-by on the sidewalk near the picket fence below. Mostly I am thankful that God has blessed me with a great space where I am close to my wife and kids and where I can do what I love to do.
How would you improve it if you could? There’s really nothing I would do to improve this space – I am very happy with it. But someday I would enjoy having a similar studio – just four times the size!
Media: mixed media, new media, fashion
Number of years in this space: 1
What do you enjoy most about working here? The best part is it’s inexpensive live/work environment in Oak Cliff. It’s a nice contrast from the hectic pace working at an advertising agency downtown.
What would you improve if you could? Need more space, a larger door, more artists and assistants. Most importantly I’d like to spend more time in it.
Media: Bottle caps
Number of years in this space: 1
What do you enjoy most about working here? I do my work at home, so I’m always comfortable and at ease.
How would you like to improve it, if you could? I would like to have better light. I have three windows, but they don’t provide a lot of good light on my workspace. I would also like more space; as projects get bigger, and more bottle caps are accrued, I need more space to display and store them respectively. Most importantly, I would like to NOT have carpet. I use grout and epoxy resin, which have ruined carpeting in more than one workspace.
Media: Usually watercolor, colored pencil and gouache for children’s books. For the Nasher coloring book (Moonbird, Moonbird, Fly Away With Me), pen and ink and watercolor. For large format painting, acrylic.
Number of years in this space: One
What do you enjoy most about working here? Everything! We built it just for me. I have never had such a great space. I love the light, the storage, the space for small and large projects, the proximity to [husband] Pat’s studio and our house, which is just up the stairs.
What would you improve if you could? I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel very fortunate to have this wonderful place to work. I was in attic rooms, our garage and/or the neighbor’s garage for many years.
Medium: screen printing
Number of years in this space: Almost a year
What do you enjoy about working here? Well, the last place I had didn’t even have a concrete floor. It’s a larger (garage) and it has a slab. It’s just nice working at home, ya know? I can invite people over to come hang out and print. Or I can just be by myself in solitude, just work on my own, which I like a lot most of the time.
If you could change something about the space, what would it be? I would like go get drying racks and I really need to buy new screens – just constantly upgrading. Indoor plumbing would be nice, and just maybe having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter would be great.
Media: comics/graphic novels
Number of years in this space: 5
What do you enjoy most about working here? When my girlfriend, the product designer, moved in, we had the office divided in two — one side for her desk and one side for mine. It took us an hour pushing furniture around to finally come to an arrangement we could tolerate. I like sharing the room. As a necessity, I junked my funky amoeba-shaped Ikea desk, opting for a more efficient Container Store table. The self-important amoeba took too much space. How much square footage does a comic book writer need? Smaller desk, less mess, and while some might feel cramped, it’s actually rather cozy.
What would you improve if you could? A rug might be nice to make the space a tad more friendly. Also, a rug would prevent me from wearing a hole through the wood floors when I scoot around in my roller chair. Most of my wants are computer oriented. All the cool-kid scriptwriters use Final Draft; I’m stuck with Microsoft Word. It’s hard to justify the cost. I have an external hard drive, but a back-up to the back-up would help me sleep better.
Medium: Pigment prints on fabric (silk and cotton)
Number of years in this space: 2
What do you enjoy most about working here? I’m still close to my family.
How would you improve it if you could? I’d have a better storage system for my artwork
Media: books and programs
Years in this space: About six months so far. I just moved into this space in April 2009. But I made it more organized with the bookshelf and the extra table to the right for printing materials, etc.
What do you enjoy most about working here? I would say the lighting. I can put the two spotlights on to have a more romantic setting rather than a bright room. I also like the convenience of my bookshelf to my left for references and my printer to my right for easy access.
How would you like to improve it if you could? I would like to get a new side table, because the one I have wobbles when the printer is going. I would also like to add some filing cabinets and possibly some shelving units to the walls for more storage. I could definitely use more storage for organization.
Medium: Pencil, watercolor and acrylic
Number of years in this space: About eight months.
What do you enjoy most about working here? One of my things is that I look outside. I see a guy on a bike, and I see a dog, and I see a squirrel. Then I decide I am going to draw a squirrel riding a bike. My little room is an eighth of the size of the place I had before, but I’ve got two windows to look out of and a little balcony I can step out on. My place is on kind of a thoroughfare from Greenville to Skillman, so I see everybody go down the street. My studio faces the street, and I feel like I’m on this little perch on the top of this hill with windows all around, and that’s what I like best about it. In the morning, I open up my shades and survey the neighborhood.
How would you improve it if you could? It would be nice if it was a little bigger; also, we have a ceiling fan, and one of the blades broke off. We can’t turn the fan on, so it would be really nice if we could turn the ceiling fan on. And my boyfriend bought a screen door for the balcony door, and that would be great to have that put on, too.
Medium: 95 percent photography, 5 percent videography.
Number of years on this space: Maybe three years? We’ve been in the house for four years. We built the studio on shortly after buying the house.
What do you enjoy most about working here: Two things … One, I am somewhat centrally located, being in the Lake Highlands of Dallas. It is pretty easy for most people to find my studio, so setting up shoots can be much easier than my last studio space in Far North Dallas. Two, I love the fact that I can walk up to my studio any time of night or day and start working. I would loose a lot of my creativity and motivation if I had to drive to and from my studio every day.
How would you improve it if you could? I could really use another five feet of shooting space, and I would love to have a background hanging system that allows me to quickly change from one background to the next. There are companies that make them, but I’m too cheap to buy one. And there’s no way to get another five feet of studio space, since I think we are maxed out on our land. I’d have to buy my neighbor’s house and combine the two houses for that wish to come true!
I could also use another dedicated wall plug on its own circuit. They are important for plugging in my strobe packs separate from the room lights, computers and stereo, but my breaker box is already maxed out…so, when I blow a fuse while shooting, it sucks. Other than that, the studio works fine – unless I can complain about needing newer computers and more lighting and photo gear? Does that count as a studio improvement? Hasselblad digital medium format camera, I’m looking your way.
Media: playwright, webcomics, pen and ink drawing
Number of years in this space: 1
What do you enjoy most about working here? I do almost all of my work at a simple desk. It is actually a rather small desk, with little surface area. This is on purpose. Since most of my work involves writing and drawing, I don’t need too much physical space. I fold my laptop down and pull out a sketch pad to draw. It cuts down on the clutter big time. I’m actually kind of proud of the amount I can turn out at this simple workstation.
What would you improve if you could? I would love to have a much better computer, decked out with Adobe Creative Suite and other fancy programs. I’d also like a few fancy pens, which are kind of costly. Other than that, I really dig having *just* enough space.
Media: photography, painting, collage
Number of years in this space: 3
What do you enjoy most about working here? It’s in my backyard, it’s big and comfortable.
What would you improve if you could? The floors. The concrete floors were finished badly, and I really need to have them done right. I would also like to add on so that I could separate the photography studio from where I paint. As it is right now, I have to clean up and put away all my painting supplies whenever a photography client comes in – which is often! Not big complaints, really, I love it and I’m lucky.
Number of years in this space? Pleasantry Lane part 1: 1997 to 1999. Part 2: 2003 to present.
What do you enjoy most about working here? It feels like my home, with lots of things in it that make me feel good. The opposite of the flight deck of a space ship!
How would you improve it if you could? More space in the tracking room and more storage!
Media: crepe myrtle (mostly), bronze, steel, mixed media
Number of years in this space: 5 1/2
What do you enjoy most about working here? Walking into a nest that I’ve built. I have greater focus in my own space. Because it is private, I don’t have to keep a path clear and I can sing and dance to any kind of music with the volume up. I love the height of the ceiling, the skylights in the day and the second floor viewing area. Plus I have a “drawing room” or clean space.
What would you improve if you could? More space for more trees and storage for finished work.
Medium: Mainly acrylics, pastel, pen and ink, pencil, colored pencil and mixed combinations of those. I am an instructor of painting and drawing, so I must master the traditional wet and dry mediums as well as the newly introduced products, with all their related supplies and materials.
Number of years in this space: 15
What do you enjoy most about working here? I am a morning person, and this room gets the first light. My desk is situated to look out into my lovely little garden, which I carved out through biting mosquitoes in the summer, and post nasal drip in the winter. I wake, every morn, eager to get to work.
How would you improve it if you could? Better lighting for the rare times that I am working into the night. (I am at my creative best daylight hours). Better seating. Perhaps one wall of some material (cork) so that instead of filing away visual inspiration, it could be tacked up on the wall
Comedian Nick Pozderac
Medium: My mind and various notebooks
Number of years in this space: This is my first apartment, and I’ll have been here a year in August. And I’ll be here at least another year, staring at the brick wall that is my view.
What do you enjoy most about working here? I like working in my bedroom, because if I have a weird idea in the night I can go to my desk and write it down. Also, I can pace in my little pacing area by my bed. For all my life I have shared a room with my brother, and I love that this space is entirely my own. I really love the way it’s organized and decorated right now – I have everything the way I want it, and I feel like I really fit in this room.
How would you improve it if you could? I just improved it by rearranging my furniture last week, and the only thing that could make it better is if it was a bigger space.
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Number of years in this space: 20
What do you enjoy most about working here? I love the wonderful acoustics.
How would you improve it if you could? I’d do away with the really cold air conditioning.
Media: mixed media
Number of years in this space: Just under 2
What do you enjoy most about working here? The glass wall in my studio allows people who are walking through the Southside on Lamar building a chance to see into my studio. This motivates me to produce more work. It is a constant challenge to keep the space interesting.
What would you improve if you could? My space has gallery-style tract lighting, which is great for displaying art but it makes the studio pretty warm, even in the winter.
Media: Salvage art. I find cool elements everywhere I go and somehow assemble them into more coolness (to me anyway). I always make my art so that I will be happy to display it in my home in case it never sells. I refurbish furniture from the side of the road, repair beautiful old lamps, rebuild things with redeeming qualities … It’s my good fortune, my mission and a legacy from my grandmother. To recycle creatively.
Number of years in this space: Since 2007
What do you enjoy most about working here: The sounds of countryside that sing in my open doors and windows. The views. The lack of sirens. The presence of owls. The wind that marks the seasons. Becoming a part of that has inspired my art.
How would you improve it if you could? This space is a dream come true. It is everything I ever wanted since I was 9 years old. It wouldn’t be prudent to ask for more. I am the most fortunate person I know. This space allows me to give back in the best way I know how with the gifts given me. Someday, when I’ve used up a bunch the materials I have and enough room opens up, I’m going to move a bed in for friends to come spend the night and play art in the country
Media: mixed, drawing, markers, crochet
Number of years in this space: 12 🙂
What do you enjoy most about working here? It’s home.
How would you improve it if you could? It’s my home – it’s perfect.
Media: comic books, graphic design, illustration
Number of years in this space: 4 1/2
What do you enjoy most about working here? I love that I have one room in our house that I can make a huge mess while being creative (Yes, I have a cool wife). I’ll get busy for weeks on end, then stop and the place looks like a twister came through. Then I straighten the place up and start all over again. Plus I can store all my stupid stuff in there. It’s nice to have all this great reference material around at my fingertips. I also really like having my computer and my drawing board (that I’ve had since I was a kid) in the same room. It’s cool to be able to jump back and forth.
What would you improve if you could? Probably just a little bit more space. My computer desk cuts across the room and make it seem smaller than it is. But that’s nit picking, isn’t it?
Brad Ford Smith
Media: I use the studio for two things, one as my art studio where I focus on sculpture, works on paper, and wall installations, the other is for my company, Studio Six Art Conservation. As an art conservator, I work with historic objects made from organic materials such as wood, lacquer, ivory, mother of pearl, and tortoise.
Number of years in space: This studio was originally set up by my father, Samuel Lee Smith in 1956 as a sculpture studio. He worked mainly in wood and ceramic. The DMA has one of his sculptures in deep storage. He was also the creative director for WFAA TV where he designed many of the original stage props for the Mr. Peppermint show.
What do you enjoy most about working here? An art conservation studio has to be well lit, clean, and organized, where as an art studio tends to be reactionary and much more touchy feelly. These two disciplines do compliment each other by the interesting crossovers between different materials and techniques. I have lived in lots of different cities, and I have set up quite a few studios. Some had great windows with lots of electrical outlets. Others were in dark, damp basements where I had to fight to keep the bugs from eating my egg tempera paints. What I like best about this studio isn’t the space or the tools, it’s the almost surreal feeling of creating and preserving art in the very same place where I held my first Crayola.
What would you improve if you could? Of course no studio is perfect. You could say they are works in progress. There are always new tools to get, changes to make, and expansions to dream about. I do keep a list of items to buy, build and change. Here is a random sampling from that list: Buy a wood planer. Rework the overhead lighting to provide a more constant even illumination. Build more flat files and clean storage for art work and artifacts. And put a door in the south wall to access the raw materials storage room, of course I will have to build a raw material storage room first.
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Medium: I experiment with many mediums – anything goes in costume design. I really like to use acrylics.
Number of years in this space: I’ve been working in this space for a year.
What do you enjoy most about working here? It’s less cramped than the space I have at home. In my bedroom, I have a little drawing table that sets up on a bigger table with lots of other stuff around it, like my sewing machine and a hatbox full of fabric. At school, I have big tables and lots more light.
How would you improve the space if you could? I would put in a bigger sink and cushion the tables for sewing purposes. Also, it’s really inconvenient to have the costume stock two floors below this room. Someday, I hope I have a house with a space in it with a lot of windows – like all windows -with big overhead lights and a giant table in the middle and a nice Mac.
James Michael Starr
Media: Found-object sculpture and collage.
Number of years in this space: 5
What do you enjoy most about working here? With the help of friends and family, I converted the space from the house’s two-car garage, which is on the downhill side of a sloping site. So, with its near 13-foot ceiling, it’s almost a cube and feels much roomier than you would think a two-car garage might be. That height also allowed me to add lots of shelving space so that I can have most of my junky inventory out and visible, a necessity for me to put things together in my mind.
How would you like to improve it, if you could? Actually, the first improvement I would make is one that was originally designed-in, but which I couldn’t afford to finish. In my original plans, I had located the uppermost shelf, which runs around three sides of the studio like a horse shoe, to be the anchor point for a rolling “library ladder,” the type you see in bookstores. That was intended to make the most of all the shelving, since I would be able to get easy access to everything in my studio and be able to quickly grab whatever I wanted from different shelves and continue that visualization that’s an important part of my working process. As it is now, I do that, but much more slowly by hauling out a 10-foot aluminum ladder, a much more cumbersome process. The next most reasonable improvement would be to add more windows or a skylight. I now use a tremendous number of electric lights, because being able to see well as I’m working with hand and power tools is essential. Then I think some kind of exterior work yard would be great. I’m learning to weld now, and that’s not something that I can do inside.
Medium: Pen, pencil and paper
How many years have you been in this space? We have lived in our house for three years now. However, my creative space has moved around a few times within that span of time.
What do you enjoy most about your studio? It’s a small little nook in the corner of our house that I have surrounded myself with images of inspiration, both found and original pieces of work. I enjoy the fact that I can come to my chair, sit down and focus for hours on a project without the distractions of the rest of the house.
How would you improve it if you could? As both an artist and designer, I have many ideas of how I could improve my creative space. The first thing I would start with is better storage/organization. Right now I have limited space to keep materials, and I don’t feel they are always easily accessible, and accessibility is of huge importance to me. The only other thing I would like is a window to look out. I feel trapped sometimes in my small corner.
Medium: Wood turning and wood sculpture, especially sculpted turnings. I use non-endangered species only.
Number of years in this space: 4
What do you enjoy most about working here? The space is perfect for a lover of all things alfresco. My love of nature, the beauty of greenery, the fresh air, flowering plants, the songs of birds, and the interplay of sunlight and shadows all make for an ideal work space. In addition, I have a sound system that pipes out classical music while I am working, which is perfect for an artist who also has a passion for music. The cedar arbor, which I built, never lets in more than 50 percent of the sun, so some plants that won’t live in direct sun thrive here, me included. But the south facing exposure also catches some of the prevailing breezes, cooling the space with circulating air flow, and carrying away my sawdust and chips. This makes all of North Texas thankful for the free mulch.
The picture looks more like a patio than a studio, but don’t be fooled. My sculptures and tools, as well as my wood supply, are subject to the foibles of weather. If I left them in the “studio,” the elements would crack my hollow form vessels, rust my chisels and the UV rays wood bleach the color out (pun intended). So, my wood is on a cart and my lathe is on wheels, and they get stored indoors.
How would you improve it if you could? It’s hard to improve perfection, but If I could, I would buy a bigger lathe to create larger vessels.
Medium: We’re a multi-disciplinary collective, so the media we find ourselves utilizing at The Studio can vary from oil paint and denatured alcohol to rapid prototyping machines and a four-color screen printing press. Each person who collaborates with us brings their own individual aesthetic, connections and skill set, and the projects we seek out are based upon what we are passionate about at that time; the method is really determined after already deciding to work on the project.
Number of years in this space: Although I have recently started a new branch in downtown Chicago, our flagship studio is located in the same garage in Plano we started printing shirts in in 2007.
What do you enjoy most about working here? Thanks to Steven’s incredible devotion and knowledge of industrial design and his parents’ background in the field, the entire house is brimming with useful implements and materials. Saw blades, couplings, balances, lathes and any number of other tools for construction and precise measurement adorn the walls and fill the boxes of the garage and studio workspace inside. Additionally, having the remnants of past projects laying around — old screens, luchador masks, patches, stickers, posters, sketchbooks, partially finished comic drawings — serve as a constant reminder of the all-encompassing collective and business we envisioned as Honors Art II kids doodling graffiti on the tables of Vines High School.
How would you improve it if you could? We’re constantly reinvesting the profit gained from shirt runs, murals and other small sales back into purchasing capital and materials for the group, so improvements are as frequent as the projects. A six-color press might be nice along with a metal lathe, rapid prototyping machine, oversize printer, conveyer dryer, hot tub, fully-staffed fitness center, humidor and I honestly don’t think a 24-hour massage parlor staffed by Cowboys Cheerleaders is out of the question.
Media: Mixed. An amalgam of fiber paper, acrylic, plywood, pen, wood stain and just about any drillable, pokeable, adherable found material I can get my hands on.
Number of years in this space: 24 years in this space, in this universe. 2 years in this art space, in this space, in this universe.
What do you enjoy most about working here? Unconventional convenience. Since this workspace isn’t directly connected to my apartment, I can easily step away from the comfortable temptations of home and concentrate on the endeavor at hand. Decorated with a few oil stains and some carpenter’s markings, it’s a bare bones garage without any built-in storage or proper work surfaces, so I’m forced to improvise. Sorting through the shambles of yesterday’s Macgyver-like mess offers me a renewed challenge whenever I venture downstairs and cross the threshold.
The makeshift state of mind in a detached space is great for catalyzing creativity, but I also treasure the fact that my home is literally just a hop, skip and (depending on my caffeine intake) a jump away. When I’m worn out from playing Twister with power tools and paintbrushes, or if I need anything that’s not already down there with me, I can just as easily run upstairs for a quick restart. I’d like to think that the setup, if nothing else, offers a fair balance of comfort and motivation.
What would you improve if you could? I desperately need an industrial sink, a sawhorse and a space heater; but for now, several Gatorade bottles, a horizontal ladder, and a scarf will do the trick. Also, since the only way in is by way of a fickle garage door remote, I’d like to add another entrance, perhaps involving a daring rooftop descent or anything a la Batman.
The Tom & Judy Show: Tom Sale and Judy Vetter
Medium: fabric, words, flattened bottle caps, thread, found objects, felt
Number of years in this space: Only two months. Judy just moved her studio after 18 years on the same studio space at the Hickory St. Annex.
What do you enjoy most about working here: The huge windows, a full kitchen and a rooftop patio for afternoon coffee while contemplating the next big project.
How would you improve it if you could? I wouldn’t change a thing!
Media: HD-video production and digital music/sound design
Number of years in this space: 3
What do you enjoy most about working here? I really enjoy having my studio setup at home. I get the company of my two dogs during the day and enjoy the opportunity to get out and take them for walks. That provides a welcomed time to think outside my box. It is also nice to have the conveniences of home just a few feet away.
What would you improve if you could? I would like a more modular setup where I can easily define my workspace depending on the project. A Zen like environment where simplicity is key. Everything would have a well designed space, and I wouldn’t be distracted by clutter. I really love a studio that connects with my personality.
Ellen Frances Tuchman
Media: All works are composed of mixed media, which may include the following: acrylic paint, ink, colored pencil, enamel (nail polish), powdered pigment, eye shadow, pastel, silver or gold leaf, individually punched perforations, quilled paper, beads, sequins, rhinestones, pearls, cameos, buttons, mother-of-pearl, metal findings, paper ephemera (found or constructed), ribbons and trim, vintage cigarette cards, matchcovers and postcards, vintage glass and plastic forms, vintage enamel medallions, mirrors, balsa, photo transfers, stamps, fimo (polymer) clay, hair, embroidery floss, silk, nymo and mylar threads, vintage metallic thread, silver gimp, colored sand, scientific slides, vintage daguerreotypes, beetle wings, paint chips, etc. painted or hand sewn onto the paper.
Number of years in this space: 7
What do you enjoy most about working here? It’s a white box; it’s out my back door (it’s a converted garage).
What would you improve if you could? More natural light, which has diminished as all my neighbors have built second stories. In fantasy moments I’d like to raise the roof (which leaks because it’s old-1930s-and flat) and add more clerestory windows.
Medium: Mixed media. I love the nature of found objects in particular. It allows me to think beyond the practical application and challenge the possibilities.
Number of years in this space? I have been in this space since August 2009.
What do you enjoy most about working here? The energy. When I come in, I get visually charged by the tools, supplies and art pieces in various stages of completion. I get an uncontrollable urge to create.
How would you improve it if you could? A second story with an equally high ceiling. We artistic-types love to expand.
Tour date: May 2013
Medium: Archival ink pens and paper, charcoal, paint, graphic design, photography.
Number of years in this space: One Year
What do you enjoy about working here? It is a quiet space where I can listen to my music and draw.
If you could change something about the space, what would it be? More space to work, and better lighting.