Today I present an interiors post on a space of mine that many have been asking about for a while - my artist studio.
The backstory: a year ago I got my first taste of working in such a space when I was sharing a fixer upper with a friend in the now defunct V22 studios, Bermondsey. I have nothing but fond memories of the place -as spartan and ramshackle as it was - blasting Drunk In Love on repeat while working on my collaboration painting with Moët & Chandon then for dinner sampling the culinary offerings of nearby Bermondsey Street. After V22 closed for good, I convinced myself I absolutely had to have a studio of my own, as a self-validation of sorts. Some people feel better about themselves if they have the latest Celine handbag, Ferrari, a child...I felt like I would be 'complete' if I had an artist studio. So last September I started searching for one. Believe me when I say that the perfect artist studio is hard to come by, much like the search for the perfect home. My requirements were simple; at least 200 square feet, a large window with plenty of natural light, close to where I live (Shoreditch) and no more than £200 per month. HA! I do love to dream, don't I? Somehow, I found all of that and even more miraculously I beat at least eight other people interested in the space who had been on the waiting list longer than I. Last October I got the keys to the first artist studio that I could call my very own and I was actually more ecstatic than the day I bought my first London apartment.
What I did not foresee through a haze of excitement was that the studio was too big for my needs. I believe the saying is 'an embarrassment of riches' or rather in my case 'too much, too soon'. I was too taken in by the fantasy of having a vast, high-ceilinged, light-filled artist studio that I didn't think that I actually didn't need that sort of space - in hindsight all I actually needed was a space half that size, a third even - and without thinking it through I moved my home office out of my dining room and into the studio where it sat, unloved and used, beside my painting desk in a studio filled with canvases, a plinth, and drawers of paints that I wished I had used more of. To be fair, I did a lot of work in that studio - my only gripe was that I didn't need nearly as much space as I thought I did, so I made use of it by inviting my friend Nichole to paint there with me and also Henry to move our Regimental Vintage headquarters there. Three people, three functions in one studio...if that isn't a sign I have too much room, I don't know what is.
So now you know my secret shame and the real reason why it's taken me nearly four months to show you my artist studio. The title says it all - too much, too soon. Ashamed by my greed and waste - especially since such spaces in London are hard to come by - I ended my lease on the studio, moved my home office back into my apartment yesterday as I had planned to for 2015, and when I return from my annual Chinese New Year travels I'm going to start looking for another studio that's half the size. Start small, baby. Without further ado - I'm sorry this introduction is so long, but I felt you deserved an explanation - here are pictures of my artist studio which I will always look back on with the fondest of memories.
A lot of the furniture in the studio was salvaged and upcycled - one person's trash is my treasure! - such as the steel shelves, the white plinth, the shoe rack turned bookshelf, the beer bottle crate, the black office chair, and the mucky paint-streaked desk. Only the white office desk, Kartell ghost chair (taken from my living room, luckily I had two!), easel, and white drawers are mine.
A print I bought years ago for my first apartment as a not-so-subtle hint to my then-champagne-socialist-boyfriend to get his butt off benefits and get a job. Today it reminds me about the joys of work, as does the two motivational posters I printed and framed to prop at the window.
The Buckland's beer crate and Veuve Clicquot champagne bucket was found by Henry, the shoe rack and sad-looking plant I rescued from the trash. Yes, that is an action man figure.
My beauty and skincare saviours from long days of handling corrosive material and being elbow deep in grime.
A view of the work stations. The studio is square shape and at over 200 square feet that works out to each wall being just over 18 feet long. One wall accommodated two desks side-by-side (one grimy desk for painting, a sleek white one for office work) and the Regimental Vintage corner - two industrial clothing rails and piles of stock, just out of sight.
That pile of bags you see under the rail is just a fifth of the Regimental Vintage stock Henry and I have which is now safely locked away in a storage unit that is five times smaller than my studio. Perhaps I should just work from the storage unit instead of an artist studio.
My office desk. Can you guess from my mood board (really just print outs taped clumsily to the wall) what I'm working on?
The mint green lamp was a Christmas present from Henry that I absolutely adore, and the postcards are illustrations I did for Tresor Paris.
God, that painting desk is grimy but I do love it. I found it folded up by the trash and gave it a new lease of life in the studio where Nichole promptly made it even more paint-stained.
My drinks cart - when working I live on a diet of coffee, tea, and whisky - with a cat postcard I bought for Henry in Rome, a framed postcard I found at a car boot sale, and a framed photo of the one time I modelled for Regimental.
And finally, the windows that made me fall in love with this studio and made me snap it up so hastily. You can't tell from this photo but by night it has such a lovely view of London - you can see the Shard lit up in the distance against a sea of the city lights, and on some days the sunset is a brilliant sea of red, pink, and orange.
I'm not going to lie, I am already missing this studio, but as I've handed this space back to the building I hope that the next artist will have more use for the generous space than I did. I've moved my home office into my bedroom (where I'll be doing my blogging work from), the Regimental Vintage stock and the excess furniture into storage where it will be waiting for new homes: a new brick and mortar shop for the fashion side of my work, and a smaller studio for my art work.
I hope you enjoyed the studio tour as much as I've enjoyed those wonderful times I spent in it, and I'm looking forward to sharing my new home office soon - just as soon as I organise and furnish it properly. x