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Finding An Art Studio: A Guide to Leaving Your Home Studio Behind

So you’re ready to move your studio out of your home? Congrats! Let’s find you the best art studio, shall we?


Three years ago, I began using new techniques that were not suited to a home studio. My art output was skyrocketing with coming shows and exhibits (no complaints there), but my apartment wasn’t built for it — ventilation, anyone? I plunged into the search for a real studio and had no idea where to start.

If your story sounds like mine, it’s time to move your studio out of your home and find your dream spot. From my real experience, I come bearing valuable tips and things to consider when hunting for a studio space for your creative practice.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-2-59-05-pmCheck your wallet

The first and most important place to start when studio-searching is your budget. When determining a budget, consider your yearly income from selling your art or doing other creative services. I suggest that your first year studio rent budget should be no more than 50% of that sales income number. Let’s face it, creative entrepreneurs, like other entrepreneurs, have to subsidize their business until profitable, so don’t bite off more studio rent than you can chew. You want to have clear goals to break even and move into profitability as soon as possible. Getting a studio space will support a higher output of work, which in turn may generate higher income opportunities. Once your rent budget is set, you may want to ask other creative friends where they rent space, as referrals are often your best search engine.

604202-200Plan out your space

Next up, choose a realistic “guesstimate” on how much space (the square footage) you will need.  Are you only going to make art in your space?  Or, will you need a clean “showroom” area/wall in your studio for art sales?  Measure your tables and any storage shelves you currently own to help you do a layout for your new space.  

Pro tip: Use a tool like SketchUp to plan out a 3D visual of your new studio.

noun_40354Know your zone

Make sure that the zoning for the studio space you want to rent is appropriate. Zoning is a classification system used by cities and towns to place compatible buildings together. For example, if a neighborhood is zoned residential, the neighbors probably won’t take kindly to a metal fabrication studio.  That type of studio is located in a neighborhood with industrial zoning, whereas architects, graphic designers, caterers and writers can often be found in areas with a live-work zoning designation. If your art form includes any toxic materials (some types of painting and printmaking), machines that make noise (metalworking or woodworking) or heat (ceramics, glass and metal), a studio in an industrial space is your best bet.

noun_118942Does it have…?

Before you sign a lease on your new space, make sure it has all the amenities you need!  Here is a quick checklist of items to help you cover all your bases:

  • Does your studio have a water hook-up inside or access to a communal work sink nearby?
  • Is there a restroom in your studio building?
  • Are there trash and recycling bins for you to use, or do you have to take your trash out and dispose of it elsewhere?
  • Is there onsite parking? Is it free or an additional cost?
  • Does the building have a loading dock or other large doorway access? (Good to have if you plan to make big work in the future).
  • If the building is multi-story, is there an elevator? (Not just for you to use, but great to insure patrons of all abilities can access your open studio and other special events).
  • And of course… does the building have Wi-Fi?

noun_502023Dissect the lease

Now that you have confirmed all of the amenities you need, it is time to sign a lease. Your lease should specify the term, (the length of time), you are renting the space.  Annual or month-to-month leases are common. The lease should include how utilities are billed and what you are responsible for paying. If you have equipment such as kilns that require special electrical hookups, make sure that approval for this installation is covered in the lease.  (You may also want to see if getting a separate sub-meter is possible, if you want to be 100% sure of your own utility costs in a shared building).  Your lease should also include hours of accessibility.  Do you have 24-hour access to your studio? If not, the lease should clearly spell out the days and hours you have access.  Can you receive mail or delivery of supplies at your studio?  Is there a property manager that can sign for items if you are not there?

noun_375311Arrange for security

The final thing to plan for is your security. Your lease may ask you get insurance for your items in your studio. The building’s insurance will not cover your art business property, so you may need to get coverage for your supplies and equipment. Additionally, if you plan to teach classes or have other events in your studio, you may want to get a general liability policy that also includes some amount of medical coverage in case someone gets hurt.

noun_98497Celebrate

Now that all the paperwork is in place, you’re ready to move into your new studio! This is a huge step in the growth of your creative practice. To get the most out of your new studio, make sure you make a date with yourself every week — if not every day — to go to your studio and work.  Happy creating!


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