The Artist and the Self Storage Unit

I am trying to set up a new studio in a new home I have just moved into. It is a mess! I have been an artist and an art teacher for a very long time, so I have art supplies from here to forever. Most artists, crafters and sewers can identify with me. When this moving process began, I started looking for studio ideas. I looked in decorating magazines, craft books and on Pinterest. And I found lots and lots of great suggestions, excellent projects and perfect solutions. The implementation of these systems is taking time and when it is done, I am sure that I will be thrilled. But just the other day, I came across an idea that I really liked.

Renting a self storage unit can be the solution to all of my space issues! So, I looked into it and called a couple of storage facilities near my house. I don’t want to be too far away from the studio. The had a 5’ by 5’ available now and a 5’ by 10’ coming up by the end of the week. They also suggested calling every day because units came available all the time. So, I went back into the space that will be my studio and did some measurements. Now I just have to figure out what goes and what stays. The thing that is exciting about this option is that it can provide temporary or permanent housing for my arts and crafts materials and products.  I can put only the art stuff in it and organize it in such a way to be ready for various work that may be in different stages of completion. Or, I can use it as a staging space for preparing for selling and packing items for sale on websites and Etsy and for craft fairs and events.

The person I talked to said that lots of artists used their storage space for various crafting and creative events. A couple had even set up tables for extra studio space and one was even teaching classes.  Turning a self storage unit into the perfect crafting haven does require some special considerations. When choosing a unit, you should consider the amount of arts and crafts materials and products that you need to store. When the person told me that their only space available today was 5’ be 5’, I knew that the size would not do me much good. A 5’ by 10’ would be a bit better for storing the amount I have. I also knew that in order for the space to work for me, I would have to do a little space planning as arts supplies need to be organized for easy access. I wanted the space to provide a one stop shop for easy transport to and from the studio.

I also considered renting a climate controlled unit because it could help in saving some of my paints from drying out, clay turning into stone and canvas molding. I can keep the temperature the same all year long and not worry about my supply investment from turning into trash.

Another idea the person I talked to threw into my brain, was that while I was considering using the storage space to store my art supplies, why not consider it a working studio or a classroom space. She had a couple of units that are being built that will not only be climate controlled, but they will also have electric, water and a bathroom. The thought of having a studio outside of the house opened up all sorts of ideas. First, it would make the rooms I am currently taking up for studio space into extra bedrooms but also a library that I have always wanted. I would also just go to the storage unit like I would go to a job. At the end of the day, you close the door and you are finished until tomorrow. Yes, inspiration can come at all hours, but this way the studio would be used a bit more on a family schedule.  It would also be nice to work somewhere that you didn’t get interrupted with phone calls, knocks on doors and family disasters!

The classroom idea was the most intriguing use of the unit. I taught classes in my home studio before and it posed lots of problems. Mostly, not enough space for the amount of people who were attending and people who were dropping off others for the classes tended to wander all over my house! Holding classes in an outside location was very appealing. I could still store everything in the unit that I needed to store, but I could also set up long tables with chairs, table top easels and paints and not worry about things getting messy or too loud!

I did hours of research on Pinterest and artist studio sites to get ideas on how to setup the perfect art studio in a storage unit. I found that the best way to treat the space is as if it is just a room in my home. So, here is what I am going to do. I am going to install shelves along two full walls. These will be for my paints and brushes and clays and papers. I am going to put two long tables right down the center of the unit with chairs on either side. This will be not only for laying out my own work but also for classes and students to sit across from each other. The light  I envision are work lights on stands and clamp lights on poles. I will need a fan or two to keep the air moving. Art can get stinky at times. I also need a corner for a table or racks for drying projects such as paintings and pieces made from clay. I also want to add an overstuffed chair for sitting and sketching. But, most important, I am going to hang artwork on the walls and every where I can.

Whether I use the storage unit for just storage or a quiet place to work or even teaching classes, these empty spaces offer the perfect canvas for making a creative space come alive with imaginative uses. Safe and secure, I can unleash my creativity and work to my heart's content.

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