My Virtual Studio: Studio Tour

WARNING: Every studio is different – and though we can be afflicted with “studio envy,” be careful to keep the green monster called Jealousy in check! I’ve seen people produce work on the corner of a dining room table that rivals that of a person with rainbow-organized-everything and pristine counters. And many with perfect work spaces are afraid to mess them up, or busy trying to get them organized before they can begin. So do what works for YOU – whatever makes YOU most creative!

This video including the sketchbook and “real” tours of my studio were posted on YouTube, fall 2019:

View video on YouTube.


I created my studio in 2013, combining two small bedrooms into one large room with wood floors and kitchen counters on either end. Since that time, not much has changed in the studio space; a few things have shuffled around, but on a very small scale.

Most of the supplies shown in the video are linked elsewhere in this class, so won’t be repeated here, but here are a few details and links to what I could still find on the internet.

Replica surface. Click to enlarge.
  • Working area table surface by Replica Surfaces; Mandy makes these lightweight rigid backdrops for photographers. She’s great to work with – she sends emails regularly with photo styling and lighting tips, and her Instagram is full of beautiful examples with all her designed backgrounds. The surface is “washable” — light babywash wiping, light light soap – it doesn’t curl or buckle or anything. But there’s a caveat: the surface is printed, so eventually you can begin to wash off the ink. The first one I got I tested out and found some of the limitations: don’t get any Copic ink on it, because any solvents to clean that off take the paint off. Oops. And if you use adhesive to hold anything in place (I sometimes put a little atg tape under something I’m coloring), it can peel up the ink. However even with all that, using Replica surfaces is still way cheaper than my previous solution, which was getting white Graphix boards and using them til they got so dirty I had to replace them, which didn’t take long!
  • Spinning barstool chair was purchased at Costco. I deliberately chose to have a standing-height countertop, but realized sometimes sitting was good, so a barstool works well. Slippy coasters underneath the legs allow me to push it out of the way most of the time, so I do stand while creating about 90% of the time.
  • Canvas drawer storage system was also purchased at Costco; they have it come in and out of stock at various times, so they may be back in someday. I’m still tempted to paint those canvas drawers; if I do so, stay tuned for pics to appear here!
  • Shelving for Hydrus Watercolors is literally a piece of trim, prepainted, that I picked up at Lowes! It would work for lots of different storage items – just make sure it’s wide enough to accomodate what you plan to rest on it.
  • Barstools – I keep a few barstools in the room as extra surfaces to hold things – Copic case, the latest box from Blick as I unpack it. Since they’re stools, they don’t tend to stay full of stuff like a table would, and I can move them around depending on what I need to rest on them.
Using drawers as extra counter space

Workspace considerations

My suggestions if you’re thinking about a new workspace:

  • Standing or sitting? They say sitting is the new smoking – so consider whether you’ll want the option to stand at least part of the time.
  • Lighting. Daylight is best of course, but for those of us without big picture windows to light the way, I find having controlled lighting for video is important.
  • Accessible, stashable storage space. Storage is always a need, but consider the items used most, and whether you can work “out of a drawer” right beside you. That eliminates needing to clean up if the storage is so handy that the item never hits the table!
  • The most important principle: unless you’re on an unlimited supply budget…. be careful about buying huge storage racks or bins. If you buy a rack that’ll hold 120 ink pads, you’ll then need to keep buying ink pads til you fill it. Then you’ll need another rack. Case study follows….

The most important principle of studio design:

The more storage space you have,
the more supplies you’ll buy.

-Sandy allnock

CASE STUDY: Let me share a story about, well let’s call her a dearly-loved relative of mine. She came to my house years back, during a big cardmaking season.

She wasn’t a crafter at the time, but she is an artist and has lots of supplies. I showed her stamping and gluing and she took to it! When she asked what she could buy to get started at home I suggested she get 1 or 2 clear stamp sets, some cardstock, and a little adhesive. She already had colored pencils and watercolors. I suggested she make a card using each of the images in those stamp sets BEFORE buying more stamps.

I visited her a few months later and she was already overrun with Iris carts and shelves full of supplies! She admitted she hadn’t listened. But every time she got a new cart, that was permission to get more stuff. When she had to downsize, all those expensive supplies went to donations….lots didn’t even go in a garage sale.

So be aware of the principle. I warned. you. LOL!

That story happened before I built my studio, and taught me so much. I now have two “drawers” full of stamps and have only allowed myself those two. For years now! I know others who just keep adding more crates and boxes so they keep shopping, but I treat my studio like a grocery store: if it doesn’t sell (inspire me to use it), it has to give up its real estate! I can never make enough cards with that many stamps. So if the drawers become full, I can’t shop til I remove some and put them in the giveaway box.

Forget what you paid for supplies. They will never be worth that again and will only make it harder to part with someday.


Controlling the mess

It’s really easy for studios to get out of control – supplies EVERYwhere! Quickly the working area can get down to a 5″ square. I keep control over this by some personal disciplines:

Develop cleaning routines. For some, cleaning up after every creative session works best. For me, it’s every 3 -4 sessions. I restore my counters to company-ready, and it is amazing how much I can’t wait to go in to start creating during my next session! Whatever regularity works for you, stick to it – if it helps your mojo, it will also inspire you to keep doing it.

Use stashable storage. As mentioned above, I have the top two drawers dedicated to things I grab a lot. Adhesives, pens, tape, masking paper, erasers. I keep the drawer open at my side and use it as a counter, and close the mess away. I have a magnetic bulletin board with magnetic cups on it for scissors and pens – so they pop right back in the instant I’m done.

Use it up. When nearing the end of a pad of paper, focus on using that paper a few more times to complete it and remove the empty pad or store the completed sketchbook.

Part with things. It’s a lot easier to part with supplies little by little rather than carting it out in boxes for a garage sale some day. Whether you give them away, sell them online, or donate to a school, make a habit of not letting supplies get so precious you can’t part with them! I do periodic “secret” giveaways – just picking a student or blog follower to surprise with goodies, without announcing the giveaways ahead of time – those draw in an audience who wants free stuff, and I try to build a community of makers. And it feels SO GOOD to know I’m surprising someone with treats they didn’t expect!

Join our creative community! Our Student Facebook Group is for all classes here …and while there are no finished projects in this class, you’re welcome to join the group and get an idea of what kind of beautiful works can be created from learnings in classes on this website!