A Room Of One’s Own

What's a studio without a pile of laundry to greet you?
What’s a studio without a pile of laundry to greet you?

I actually never read that essay.  I just did some lazy internet research and realized it’s way more of a feminist statement than I intended. I really meant to say that you just need your own room. You need your own space. Basically, a designer needs their own studio.

A studio for small and/or short designers.
A studio for small and/or short designers.

As I shuffle between freelance to teaching to home, I’ve been thinking a lot about the space in which I get my work/daydreaming/grading/puttering done (Yes, I’ve been daydreaming about the sensual and mystical topic of work areas). My “space” is everywhere. I have a small studio at home, an office at school and can make myself comfortable almost anywhere to talk with clients. I have a laptop, an iPhone, an iPad and iMac (don’t rob me), apps for life hacking and productivity, software for creating and destroying, access to three libraries and a car with hands free. All I’m missing is a jump drive port fused into my neck.

In trying to find that “place”, I have made it everyplace and that’s not good.

I realized this issue when I gave my students time to work in class. “Work in class,” I said. That’s what it’s called. You’re here, you have work to do, do it now. Work. In. Class. They were paralyzed at the opportunity and alarmed at my doggedness (I can be intense). I could tell they were thinking, “I just want to get home and have all my stuff and then I’ll be able to concentrate and be inspired and that’s when I’ll really get it done. That, or I’ll do it at the last minute and I’ll stay up all night.”

Oh, no. Oh, nonononononononono. Nope. Here. Here is where you’re doing it. Here is perfect.

When they realized it was going to happen at that moment, they focused quickly and soon all I could hear were dainty mouse clicks furiously drafting vector images and the pop sounds of Lady Gaga seeping out of their headphones. I think it also helped that I hovered over them and analyzed their work like a good art director.  The “space” we look for is also in our heads so I try to teach students (and myself) to be able to work, doodle, and play even when they think they aren’t ready.   Mentally preparing for work, creative work is a luxury.

An army of dressforms patiently waiting.
An army of dressforms patiently waiting.

Full disclosure: getting fashion work done isn’t really a reasonable task. It’s kind of impossible. I had a teacher rather simply say, “There’s never enough time and never enough money” and I think about that every time I buy a t-shirt and know they’ve engineered it to take 5 minutes to sew. An average day in the studio is filled with interruptions and non-work activity: set up, go to the bathroom, get a phone call, answer someone’s question, get something to eat, answer a text, refill the meter, get really thirsty and angry, frustrated, stuck. They’re all minimal distractions but getting into and pulled out of pattern making/design brain is like going in and out of seeing a 3-D IMAX movie.  It’s a struggle.

That’s why you need a physical space too. One to leave all your design crap out. One to let things sit, process, and simmer while you’re away so you can pick it right back up when you have only two hours to get something done. Setting up is a bitch.

Sometimes you create things in the dining room.
Sometimes you create things in the dining room.

I’m going to make you gag by ending this post with a quote by Picasso: “Inspiration exists but it has to find you working.” I like to tell myself this when I think I need a better setup to get work done. It’s important to fan your flames and be able to work anywhere, even when you’re not ready, or interrupted or don’t have all your stuff, but you should stop yourself from working everywhere.

A Room, er, Studio, With a View.  (Never read that either. :/)
A Room, er, Studio, With a View. (Never read that either. :/)