Studio hunting? Six tips to make your studio search more successful
Updated: Nov 30, 2021
Finding studio space can be, and often is, stressful and frustrating. It takes effort to find a studio, in addition, the monthly rent can be a real drain on emerging artists who want to focus on their portfolio but have to earn their keep at the same time. Nevertheless, studios – no matter how cramped or cold – can have a really positive impact on artists’ concentration and motivation.
It can be much more effective to be working away on your sculptures or animations or drawings surrounded by friendly co-workers than on your own, in your living room. Being surrounded by other artists can help you work more diligently, and the separation between work and home can have a positive impact on well-being. The cost of a studio is clearly an important consideration, and there are different prices for different budgets. But assuming that you have decided that you can put some money towards renting a studio, here are six tips to help you find the perfect one:
1. Location, Location, Location!
It might be immediately obvious to most, but making the trips to and from the studio as short and simple as possible is crucial to avoid fatigue and ultimately transforming the journey there into one more hurdle to overcome. Try to find a studio as close to home as possible. Consider whether you prefer to walk or cycle to your studio, or if you don’t mind taking public transport or driving if you own a car. If you have a part-time job, you could consider studio spaces near your place of work so you don’t feel lazy about hitting the studio after a shift. Even the smallest obstacle to getting to your studio – like having to change tube lines, or getting two buses instead of one – can eventually prove frustrating, so make your life as easy as possible by finding a space that is convenient to get to.
2. Let there be light (or not)
If you are an artist that draws, sculpts, paints, photographs or shoots film, you will need specific lighting in your studio. When you view studios to rent, think carefully about whether the lighting is adequate. Think whether you mind having direct sunlight coming into your studio: south-facing windows are exposed to sunlight for much of the day in the UK, whilst north-facing ones are in near-constant shade. It may be a toss-up between having a bright studio and having to cover your work to avoid light damage, or having a gloomy studio with very level lighting. In winter when days get shorter, make sure the artificial lighting in place is strong and white enough to paint or draw with if you need to work late. Are there sufficient plug sockets for you to bring additional lights if you need? If light is not that good, don’t despair: many artists have gotten around the problem of terrible lighting by working in monochrome at night! The important thing is just to know what kind of light you’ll be getting before you move in.
3. And breathe... ventilation is key for certain media
Not all artists need to worry about ventilation, but fresh air becomes extremely important if you are working in oils, using turpentine, sawing, heating, gluing, or using aerosols like fixative or spray paints. If there’s a window in the studio, make sure to check that it can open both a little (to ventilate during winter, or when you use a bit of turps/spray) and a lot (to ventilate during the summer, or when you use lots of turps/spray). If there aren’t any windows, then it becomes even more important to check that the room has a working ventilation system.
4. What Amenities and Workshop facilities might you need?
Before deciding on a studio space, think about your requirements in terms of amenities and workshop spaces. You might want heating in the depths of winter, no matter how balmy it may feel in the summer. If you have a lot of large work to store, make sure there is storage or shelving available to make the most of your space. Do you need access to a printing press or a metal-cutting machine or a screen-print work station? What sort of equipment would be essential for you in your practice? Finding a studio space where certain workshops are available for free, or where fellow artists are willing to let you use the whittling and sanding machines when they are out, can be a blessing.
5. Are you a lonesome artist or do you crave a community?
The mention of other artists brings me on to my penultimate point about the importance of community. Do you just want a space to rent in any old building, or do you want to join an artist community or collective. Lots of artists end up sharing studios with friends and collaborators, which can be fun and sociable! Being a part of a larger community can have a big impact on artistic development, and can make finding opportunities to display work and host exhibitions much easier. An organisation in London that provides affordable studios and the benefits of a community is Space Studios and there are a few others. However, not every artist wants that sort of environment, and you may find it simpler or less daunting to rent a studio where you can get some head-space and experiment in private.
6. Use a great resources to help you filter your search
Last but not least, make full use of resources to help your search: Have a look on the ArtULTRA database and search for ‘Studios’ to find a great list of UK-based fine art studios. You will find spaces for a wide range of budgets in a variety of locations around the UK. You can narrow down your search according to a number of criteria. In addition, a specific Google search for studio spaces to let in your neighbourhood can also bring some useful results.
I'd love to hear from you and your do's and don'ts on studio search - get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about your success and disaster stories about studio hunting!