Rodney is a talented visual artist and entrepreneur. A few years back I helped him to organize a storage room that he shares with his siblings, so I was thrilled when he reached back out for help to organize his art studio. Rodney shared that he was exploring expanding his studio, and the process had caused him to reflect upon what he had in his current space, as well as his artistic and creative goals.
Setting The Stage
At our first meeting Rodney gave me a tour of his workspace, and I learned about his affinity for organizing by color. Like myself, Rodney is highly visual as well as left-handed, so I could appreciate his right-brained organizing instincts. I asked him to demonstrate a typical painting day, and he easily accessed what he needed. But I noticed in doing so he was using only a fraction of his desk, with a lot of wasted real estate.
I wondered how he might feel if things were pared down. And if having more space to work would affect his productivity, or the kind of art he produced. Rodney agreed that he could benefit from more room to breathe, as well as a re-evaluation of how he used his space. And so we began the process of deconstructing his art desk, one shelf and one item at a time.
Maeve’s Method is about helping people to identify what it is they want to live with. In an art studio, this boils down to what supplies are inspiring or helpful to an artist. As we began to work Rodney came to realize that a significant amount of the supplies he had on hand fell into the categories of I used this years ago but no longer work in this medium and I might use this one day.
The process helped him to identify his current creative priorities. Rodney paints acrylic on canvas, and so we began to work through his paints, brushes and art paper, sorting supplies into containers as we went. We also meticulously worked through thick piles of paper and magazines pages. In doing so, Rodney identified the types of color, shape and texture he looks for as collage tools.
As we worked, the art materials that were no longer of use became clear, and Rodney began to shed bags of old or obsolete supplies. At the close of each session we hauled giant bags to the recycle room, and the dense weight of his studio began to clear.
As a last step we reconstructed his workspace from the bottom up. Rodney placed everything – from paint to the hardware he uses to hang gallery art on walls – into precise locations that worked for him. And there was no need to buy anything, as every resource Rodney needed was already on hand.
Office Under Control
With the art workspace complete, we moved on to the office, the hub of business operations. In addition to decluttering, we discussed the need to cleanly display product samples from Rodney’s graphic design career. We also agreed to simplify the studio’s process for creating press kits and assembling marketing materials.
We identified the need for a shipping station as well, so Rodney and his team could more easily prep art sold to customers. Then we got down to business, tackling everything from print and marketing supplies to the nitty gritty, like junk drawers, filing cabinets, and business cards.
As we wrapped I asked Rodney how he felt about this entire process. He shared, “I walk in here now feeling lighter. I feel like this whole process has given me clarity. It has helped me to figure out what I want to do as an artist. And what I want to do with this space.”
I loved working with Rodney. I was inspired by the chance to work with his vast array of art tools (I was in heaven over our colored pencil sort, see video above). And his work, particularly his geometric series and use of bold colors, reminded me of my own grandfather’s art.
But most of all, it was a pleasure to see Rodney recognize that his goals and priorities as an artist had shifted over the year. And that much of what was on hand in his creative space was no longer an important part of his artistic life. In doing so, he embraced release and let go and emerged creatively invigorated and inspired for his next art show.
Well done Rodney, you did great!
Photo Credits: Maeve Richmond