Your Own Studio

Good habits start early.

Learning Objectives

  1. Get a handle on what you might need for a studio of your own. 
  2. Understand how to source materials to keep your costs down.     
  3. Draft your own studio budget. 

What Are Your Studio Needs?


I have 2 major points here that were (for whatever reason) hard for me to learn, but some of the more valuable lessons I’ve learned:

  1. Artists need space to be artists and you will have to fight to build and protect that space. It will at times feel indulgent and selfish, and loved ones may say it’s “too much” and “you’re not making any money at it anyways” or “your equipment smells” or “your tools are too loud” or “I need that space for something else” or “it’s too expensvie” or ….. defend your space. 
  2. Studios can be expensive. They cost money to establish and to run at a productive level. Even if you’re a digital artist with limited needs compared to a metalsmith or ceramicist, you still need a space that’s conducive to your best work and you’ll need equipment and software. Learn how to plan for expenses so you can maintain a professional career.

I’ll ask you to price out your ideal studio space this week so get thinking about it. Here are some of the things that were on my list in the early days. I didn’t purchase these things all at once, but I needed all of them to get to a point where I could produce and sell enough to break even on my costs. 


canvases, wood panels $2-3500 a year with shipping I get these from Blick’s or else I drive to Anchorage to get them. 
paint brushes, scissors, knives, etc.  $2000 per year Blick’s or Michaels
paint, markers, pencils, charcoals, inks $3,000 per year Blick’s or Michaels
varnishes, thinners, mediums,  $1,000 per year Blick’s or Michaels
equipment (tables, chairs, stretchers, tool chest, lighting, camera and lights, giclee printer and ink, easels, tabouret, storage) $30,000 for major equipment in the first few years, less over time.  varies
software and web costs $4,000 per year varies
utilities, phone, heat, etc.  $2,000 per year varies
shipping to customers $1,000 per year varies
advertisting $500 per year varies

My studios over the years…

Space = Productivity (your mileage may vary)

Mark Carder’s Painting Studio

Graphic Novelist Nate Powell


Safety in Your Studio


Along with this basic advice from GYST, here are some other resources when thinking about housing your studio at home. If you’ve been leaving safety, equipment, and materials for the art department to think about, at some point this will be something you have to think about for yourself!

Caring for Acrylics

This is one for the acrylic painters from the TATE museum.  

Welding, Cutting and Brazing from OSHA

Welding, Cutting and Brazing resources from OSHA if you’re planning on that sort of thing in your studio.  

Darkroom Photography Magazine

Lots of old PDF versions of the magazine with plenty of advice about setting up and maintaining an old-school darkroom if that’s your thing.  

Ceramic Workshop Handbook

A magnificent list of things to think about regarding ceramics studios. There are 335 manufacturers and suppliers listed! It’s a little dated (2008) but probably still worth checking out.

More Artist’s Studios

Designing a Ceramics Studio

Small, home printmaking studio

Home Photography Studio

Metalsmithing Studio Tour

Taxes and Budgets

Along with your studio budget, you may want to start thinking about accounting and how you plan on keeping track of those things. You’re welcome to use my budget in Airtable as a starting place. 

Artists to Reap Rewards of Major New Tax Deduction Aimed at “Pass-through’ Businesses

The Artist’s Guide to Tax Deductions (knowing what you can deduct on your taxes will save you SO much money)

Super useful templates from Bkper.

The basic gyst of taxes and budgets is to track every single thing that goes in or out and make notes on who/what/where/when/why.    

Sourcing Projects

You’ll eventually have to price out a project of some sort or another, most often for grant submissions, but sometimes you’ll need to work out a budget to figure out if a profit is possible on a certain project. Below is the way that I priced out a print project last year to determine what my profit margins would be using two different sources: Red River Paper versus Picture Salon. What types of projects will you work on where this type of research and comparison is helpful?

PRO TIPKeep a running list of material sources with notes about that source and links to their websites. Use my very long list to help you get started, but keep track of your best sources to help keep costs down. 


A few things you should be prepping for, working on, and thinking about.  


Some of you aren’t interacting with your fellow artists very often. This is your community. If you’re not talking to other artists, you’re working in a vacuum.


This week you should start building your own Airtable in your own way. Just make small changes each week, don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you have to build an enormous base right away!

And please, for the love of all that is right in the world, spend some time in their guide to see what Airtable can do and their “Universe” to see how others are using it.  


Cafe and Submissions

Do you have a Cafe account yet? If not, be sure to set one up this week. Take a look at some of the “calls for art” and see what they want for artist’s statements. How many words? What should it do?

Start thinking about how much time it would take you to apply for anything: do you know where your images and their details are? Do you have images that are sized so that they’re not too big to upload but big enough to see details of your work? What other types of documents will you need? A resume? A webiste? A budget? 


You now have 3 pages on your website. This week, try adding some photos, text, and anything else that seems like a good idea. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  

Studio Plans

For some of you this may mean preparing a budget to trick out a studio. For others it may mean thinking about maintaining a studio. Either way, start tracking items and expenses related to your studio.