Efficiently Organizing an Art Studio in a Small Space


You might be thinking to yourself that you need an art room or office in your house, but sometimes, those ideas come because of the “everybody’s doing it” mentality.  I’m definitely not bashing the separate home office, but there are other ways to maximize your current living areas if you do not have one.  With some really creative ideas and a less is more mentality, you can do a lot in a small space.

My home does not have a separate office space, so I have an office in my bedroom.  I bought a plastic table at Walmart a few years ago and began using it for projects.  Overtime, this became the area where I do most of my work.

WHITE SPACE

My number one tip for organizing an art space is to create lots of “white space.”  “White space” simply means that you keep a lot of areas free and clear from stuff.  I think we all work better in a very clean environment.  My desk only has a laptop, a lamp, and my current art pad.  Some of these items sit on a cutting mat.  My shelves are not packed tightly.  If you are super neat, my art area might look crazy, but it is actually very organized.  

I was not always this way.  God has truly made me clean inside and out.

LABELING AND ORGANIZATION

Another great way to organize a space is to label every container so that you know what you have.  This way you will not buy things that you don’t need.  I recently discovered that I have several kneaded erasers.  I only need one because I hardly use it.  I also tend to misplace my small, art pencil sharpeners.  I finally put those items in a “Frequently Used Art Tools” bin.

The shelves next to this art desk contain these items:

  • Sketch Books
  • Art Pads
  • Watercolor Pencils
  • Illustration Markers
  • Paint Markers
  • Fabric Markers
  • Craft Tools
  • Sketching Pencils
  • Inking Pens
  • Colored Writing Pens
  • Notecards
  • SCBWI Subcriptions
  • Fiber Fill
  • Files
  • A Charging Station
  • A Scanner
  • A Pen Tablet
  • One of the bins on the bottom is a trash bin.
  • Large paper and Art Board leans next to shelf

I placed the desk right in front of our large windows—  yes, in front of the curtains—  because looking at nature inspires me when the weather is beautiful outside.  I can control my environment by letting it in.  I also listen to piano hymns and church hymns throughout the day in this place.

So you get the idea.  It can be done.  The art supplies actually fit in three cubbies, plus the watercolor pencils on the top and the rack on the side.

You might say at this point, but I have paints, paint brushes, and palettes.  Well, I have those too.  Let me show you what I popped in the corner of my closet.

Take a look at how I’ve organized items:  

  • I used a plastic pitcher to hold all the glue that I use.  
  • I put sharp objects and measuring tools in a plastic bin.  
  • I used a dual-sided, travel cup to separate my fabric brushes from my watercolor brushes.  
  • A couple of the bins had great, clear plastic lids.  I just pulled out the rubber seal and now I can use the plastic lid as a palette for watercolor.  

These are not just art items, but other sewing and craft items.

EFFICIENCY AND MODERATION

Yes, I could easily go to IKEA and Target down the street to purchase fancier items and make my office appear showroom rich, but it was more important to me to try to be moderate and creative– and keep it real.  As a Christian, it is important to use tools for godliness, but also to consider ways to be content with what you have and to use moderation.

Let your moderation be known unto all men.  The Lord is at hand. - Philippians 4:5 KJV

The interesting thing about my art desk is that it is more than an art studio.  You would be surprised, but I actually use this desk for several workspaces.  I practice writing and illustrating here, but I also run a business through my laptop, sew headcoverings and dolls on this desk, take classes on this desk, write letters on this desk, pay bills on this desk, and my son does his homeschool work at this desk.  However, I rarely do all of those things at the same time.

Although I have several art supplies in a small space, some of the art supplies were purchased when I was discovering what media I wanted to use.  For instance, even though I like markers, I rarely use them because I found another media that I prefer over it.  I also prefer a certain type of art paper and so other types are rarely used.  Therefore, I know that once I use up or donate that neglected media, I may not be inclined to purchase it again, which frees up more space.

If you can’t fit a large table in your space, you could use a portable art board and caddy as your desk.  Here’s the good news:  Instead of using the desk like I do for many projects, you may only need your space to do one thing— art.  If that is the case, consider digital art using Corel Painter.  All you need is a laptop, a pen tablet, and the software.  That doesn’t need much space at all.  

Working from home is great.  Keeping your workspace simplified and efficient means little-to-no clutter and easy clean up. 

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