It’s the trend nowadays isn’t it? Co-op office spaces for the on-the-go entrepreneur – weaving life and business together with rent out meeting rooms, remote working areas, digital playgrounds and rest areas for interested minglers and networking enthusiasts alike. People of varying backgrounds and specialties come together indirectly, forming potential new and unwitting partnerships everyday, bonding through a sense of community and togetherness. Though with that said, why is the image of the everyday artist still relegated to a large solo-studio space? Cooped up alone and left to their own devices – to come up with what some great new artwork that will supposedly set the art world aflame.
Why can’t artists be content with the idea of a shared studio space for working, or rather we should ask, what are the pros and cons to a shared studio space in the first place? Could we borrow some ideas from our fellow entrepreneurs in the co-op office space that would be beneficial to artists?
Understandably there will always be studio practitioners who would prefer a quiet stand alone working area and that’s fine. But, what are you potentially missing out on? Let’s explore:
A cut in rental costs
This one feels a little bit like a no brainer but let’s proceed on anyway. In any studio space in the world, the same rings true, more studio mates equals more contributors and cheaper rentals per person. Though this would be optimal, do consider a couple of things to your own art and practice in regards to spacing.
How large are your works? Would they potentially obstruct and interrupt the working space of your studio mates? By nature of our craft, we would have to consider some other things as well for optimization, does your work produce any odours or chemical effects in the air that might potentially damage or compromise your studio partner’s work, or vice versa your own? It is best to check and discuss all these with your soon-to-be studio mate before moving in.
Receiving and giving feedback
Having a studio mate to receive feedback and criticisms on is always a plus. Just as it is always important and gratifying to receive them after the exhibition of a work, arguably it’s more important (and valuable) to receive them during the execution stage. This is where your studio mate’s specific field of interest and practice comes into play, how does their specific understanding of your work help inform and improve you? Though sometimes it’s better not to pick and choose, would having someone with a different field in art alltogether be more beneficial, or having someone with a very similar practice? It depends really on what you’re looking for out of the experience. A good suggestion would be to take your time until you find someone as a good fit. Afterall, art making is more often than not a whole body experience and you wouldn’t find a random roommate to live with, so why should a studio mate be any different?
Creative bounce off and stimulation
Creative stimulation from another fellow art-doer is perhaps more important than many artists give it credit for, not to be confused with creative inspiration. Remember that your fellow studio mate will have their own pace of working, sometimes fast, slow, methodical or loose and anything in between. They have their own set of inspirations, motivations, enablers, and mantra in art-making (for the lack of a better word). The way they work would help you to position yourself in relation to your own understanding of the work. Stimulation acts as a method for allowing your brain to access the subconscious, for the mind to formulate it’s ongoing connections and the wealth of information you have around you to generate new and more creative ideas.
Potential for collaborations
You’re spending all that time together, might as well see at the potential for a collaboration. Having worked together, and assuming so that there is a level of mutual familiarity between how you guys work as fellow artists, really it’s an opportunity that calls for itself. More than just collaborative ideas or ideas that only present itself in the face of collaboration, does the way you guys work as individual artists inform your art practice in anyway? Is there something you both could try out mutually together, and it becomes a practice in the balance of essentials.