Sixth Month in the artist studios

Sixth Month in the artist studios

How it all started

I received the keys to my studio space on April 28th this year. 🔑

This is the first time I've ever had a studio space outside my home. I know you don't need a studio to create incredible work, but that's just how I am – I dive headfirst and figure things out as I go. Having my own studio has been a long-time dream. Artists' studios have always fascinated me. I love peeking behind the scenes to see where artists work, and I've visited many open studios and houses. I just never thought I would be an artist with a studio.

Holding my key in front of Eastcheap Studios in May, 2023

What have I learned in the space of six months

Looking back, I've experienced personal growth in areas that may not be immediately visible. It's not that I've dramatically improved my skills, but I feel more confident in my ability to work as an artist. I've proven to myself that it's not just a hobby. I'm slowly implementing much-needed discipline in my practice. There are certainly challenges, times when I'm overly self-critical, feeling defeated, and when life gets in the way. Art has become a significant part of my life now, filling my heart with joy every day, despite the challenges it brings.

The art dork (me) moving into the studio

During the past six months, I've made friends, worked behind the scenes at exhibitions, visited shows, and built a strong bond with my studio. I've made myself at home in this small space, and every day I'm grateful that I made this choice. I may not be near success, but thanks to this opportunity, I've become an artist.

Build a solid process

The first few months were both exciting and challenging. I'd get anxious when I didn't have a plan or when I didn't know what I was doing in the studio. I tried hard not to show that I had no clue about what I was doing. It can be difficult when I imagine others know exactly what they're doing, and I don't. I gave myself many reasons to believe I didn't belong here. I soon realised the difference between experienced artists and beginners is not only in skills but also in the ability to be comfortable with uncertainty.

Litter lottery, Acrylic painting on A3 sketchbook

Being able to trust the process has been a significant learning experience for me. To enable the process to flow smoothly, I've found that having a robust ritual and habits helps. I'm still working on it, but at least I know it's there if I work at it. After all, they call it art 'practice.' I assume that's something you do over and over again.

Embrace the ebb and flow

Being optimistic is a good thing, but allowing a space for negativity is also important. After all, I'm human, not a robot. I can have down days, and I can have up days. I try to be easy on myself and not expect 100% all the time. It's the time that I spend that matters, not the time when I don't. Showing up is essential, but sometimes it's just too hard. As long as I pick myself up again, all is forgiven. One painting done is one painting better. It's all part of the practice.

My studio wall

People matter

In a shared studio, the collaborative environment means so much to me at this stage of my career. I've learned more than I ever could have by staying at home in my little world. Just being in the same space with other artists and seeing how they take pride in their craft is significant to me. Professionalism is something I've learned through my studio mates and visiting artists in residence.

Portrait of my late granny, acrylic on paper
Especially in my studio, almost everyone has a different medium and style. Although we are at different stages of our careers, there's always something to learn from each other. I enjoy a friendly studio chat, hearing what everyone's up to, and it doesn't always have to be art-related. Again, as someone who's never been to art school, this is probably the closest to an art school experience I've ever had.
Portrait of my late granny, acrylic on paper

Materials, skills, and knowledge

I believe that technical improvement comes with time and progresses naturally. I've learned to make friends with the materials by using all the materials I have, whenever I feel like it. Being able to play in the studio is a big thing, allowing things to happen within the space. I've also found that reading artists' biographies really helps in learning about their art practice. Another thing I've learned is to respect my studio space, taking care of it as it has done for me. I'm usually super messy at home and everywhere else! This will probably change as I get busier.

Toilet cleaners, acrylic on canvas board

Put yourself out there

Owning a studio also means that I can invite friends to my studio space. Obviously, I can do that at home too, but it will probably be limited to a few very close friends, and it might be out of the way for many people. Where I am is right in the middle of the town, and kind of where everything happens art-wise. By opening the door of my studio, I'm allowing people to see what I'm up to so they can be part of my journey. Alternatively, doing it selectively on the web can have the same effect.

Recent set up in the studio

Make it yours

Other than that, surrounding myself with things I love and that inspire me probably helps too. It makes me feel at ease at least. Also, designing the space as how I work is also helpful. I've slowly gathered the tools I need when I see they fit (and some unnecessary things too). Although I still have room to improve on this one. I'm quite conservative about changing the space because I can never decide, so a lot of my stuff is still on the floor. I have finally made a workspace on the wall, while I've been painting on the floor for quite a while. 

Family portrait, Acrylic painting on paper

What's next

There is still a long way to go. I really hope to make a sustainable career in the arts. In the studio, I would love to see myself painting on a big canvas roll, stretching my canvas, etc. I was jokingly saying I want a drill for Christmas. It has replaced paintbrushes and become my number one artist item.

I have the same goals as I always have: to earn enough to pay for my studio, work hard, have discipline, and have some high hopes for 2024!

Keep up the good work! 🙌


Thank you for reading!

Do you have any tips for working in the studio? I'd love to hear about your experiences. Do you have a dedicated working space, and do you prefer a shared or private studio? Please leave a comment!

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Really enjoyed reading your blog and having your insights on becoming a studio artist!

Becky Ullah


Stephen Kelly

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