My Cozy Studio in the Woods
Welcome. I’m Nicole, and this blog is a product of my lifelong obsession with both art and interior design. Is it weird that I love looking at art studios just as much as I love looking at art? An artist’s space says so much about them. It really paints a clear picture of who they are, and what inspires their work.
To kick off this party, I began by interviewing myself. It was a little weird, but I figured it’s only fair. Next, I’ll be asking other artists the same questions, and posting tours of their studio spaces. I seriously cannot wait. I have some great guests lined up for us!
I hope you enjoy these studio tours as much as I do. Also, if any of you makers want to volunteer your space, you can send me a message here. I’d love a tour!
Now let’s begin, shall we?
Profession: Illustrator & Designer | Location: Barrington, Illinois
I’m a full-time illustrator and designer. I spent four years working as a corporate graphic designer at Wendy’s (the fast food company), before launching my own business in 2015. I named my studio On Lane Avenue, after my first home on Lane Ave. in Columbus, Ohio (which is where it all began). I now live and work out of my home in the Chicago suburbs. Shout out to anyone from Barrington, Illinois! Last year, I finished turning one of our upstairs bedrooms into a studio space. Having my own designated studio space has changed the way I work. Since then, I’ve been feeling more inspired than ever.
What inspires your work?
Anything vintage - objects, buildings, movies, photographs. Also travel. Whenever I’m somewhere new, I always come up with ideas. I have a passion for interior design, so beautiful interiors inspire my illustrations as well. Lastly, I’m inspired by many illustrators that came before me like Ludwig Bemelmans, André François, and Raoul Dufy.
What are your favorite mediums and tools to use?
Winsor & Newton gouache, Prismacolor pencils, and Micron pens. Traditionally, I’ve always been a drawer, but I like the versatility of gouache paint. I use very tiny paintbrushes to create fine detail in my work, and it feels like I’m drawing.
I like Strathmore mixed media paper, and Winsor & Newton hot-pressed watercolor paper. I also love using vintage ceramics for my water cup and paint palette. It makes painting feel so special.
What is one word you would use to describe your studio space?
Cozy. I have lots of candles, fur rugs, and throw blankets. My studio is very monochromatic, but everything in the space is about warmth and texture. My husband even surprised me by installing a dimmer switch on my chandelier so I could enjoy warm, low light in the evenings. You have no idea how happy I was!
What is your favorite thing about your studio space?
I have a large dormer window that is just big enough to fit a desk. There is a nature preserve across the street, so all I can see when I look out the window is trees. I love painting in my little nook, and having the natural light stream in. Bonus - the dormer window creates perfect lighting for process shots and videos.
What are three items in your workspace that you can’t live without?
My commercial paper cutter, my Amazon Echo, and my Dymo label printer (for fulfilling Etsy orders). These items make my life exponentially easier.
What does a day in the life look like for you? What are your daily habits?
I wake up around 8 a.m. I have some green tea and breakfast first thing - usually oatmeal or a smoothie bowl. After that, I shower and get ready. I think it’s important to feel presentable, even when working from home. I always make the bed too. It makes me feel ready to tackle the day.
Around 9 a.m. I head up to my studio and sit down at my desk. I catch up on e-mails and make a plan for the day. Once I’ve established what I need to work on, I tackle my projects. I love listening to podcasts and music while I work. I’m also always drinking tea. I even have a hot water machine in my house, so I can make a cup of tea at the drop of a hat.
I usually take a break in the middle of the day to do some yoga. I end the day around 4 or 5 pm - whenever I’m feeling burnt out. I then shut my studio door, so I’m not tempted to work in the evenings. Since my studio is in my house, it’s important for me to create that boundary.
How do you practice self-care throughout the day?
I take constant breaks to walk my dog. I’ve realized over time how important breaks are. If I don’t stand up enough throughout the day, I start to feel it. My hands and shoulders get sore from being hunched over my desk. I also do yoga every day. It really helps minimize the effects of sitting at a desk.
I also try really hard to eat healthy. I do love that about working from home - I’m in control of what food I keep in the house. When I used to work in an office, there was always donuts and cake around.
How do you store your artwork?
I use Dick Blick 9x12 archival storage boxes. I store my artwork in acid-free, plastic sleeves, and then sort it in the boxes by year. To store larger pieces, I have a big folio and larger plastic sleeves I use.
I could definitely use a more alphabetized system, especially as my body of work gets bigger every year. This is something I want to tackle in 2019.