Studio Organization Tips

Setting up a usable art space can be overwhelming, especially if you’re an artist that dabbles in a little bit of everything. There’s so much stuff! Once I decided to downsize my Lowe Mill studio and beef up my home studio, I knew I needed to do some serious organizing if I was going to have any space to actually work. 

For me, the first step was realizing how I like to work. I like to have my supplies for a particular project grouped together so I can easily get them out, do my thing, and then easily put them away when I’m done. As I was staring into my boys’ messy Lego area, shaking my head because nothing ever gets put away, I realized the storage bins we had purchased for them from IKEA would be perfect for art supplies.  I then started listing all the different supplies I have – oils, pastels, acrylics, all my colored pencils, stamps, tape, glue, etc. How many bins would I need? How big of a bin would I need for each group of things? There’s 3 bin sizes available and two heights for the frames. I went with the tallest frame. Side-by-side, they make a great place to store my cradled boards too. I’m using the small and medium sized bins, plus a couple of really small bins that fit on top of the medium sized ones. 

TROFAST frame and bins available from IKEA. Yes, you can order them online!
Medium bin with one of the really small bins available that sits on top.
Small bin showing all my gathered supplies for Penny Tile Charm painting.

I also love this cart from IKEA. I use it to put all my colored pencils and paints in that I use for my drawings. For my Prismacolors, I have found I like sorting them into cups by colors the best. I use a cookie sheet to keep the ones I am using from escaping. It’s definitely not fancy, but it works for me and that’s the important thing.

RÅSKOG utility cart comes in several colors and can be purchased online.
Red solo cups are great for organizing colored pencils by color.
Red solo cups are great for organizing colored pencils by color.
  • It can take time to figure out what works best for you. Pay attention to how you like to store things. Do you like piles? Do you file things? Do you like stuff on shelves or in bins? Do you like to group items by project or would you rather have all the ribbon in one place? Work with that! If you like to pile, then get a basket. Don’t buy a file cabinet and think you are suddenly going to start filing things.
    It is easier to stay organized if you work with your natural tendencies. Click To Tweet
  • Everything needs a place. It doesn’t always have to be there, but it reduces stress to know that everything can be put away when you have time to do that.
  • If you know you won’t use it, get rid of it.  You can usually find another artist to take it or even buy it depending on what it is.
  • Label bins and even spots on shelves so you can see where everything goes (that’s my next to-do list item). Life gets crazy and everything gets pulled out and then you start forgetting exactly where you had stuff. Taking photos helps too.
  • If it isn’t working, try something else. Sometimes what you thought would work for you just doesn’t. That’s OK. Do a little googling, get some ideas, and try something different.