Throwback Thursday: A year in studios

2015 was a very eventful year for me.  On reflection, the story of my year can be told through my workspaces.

I started the year working off my living room table.   I was just emerging from a year of depression, chronic anxiety and unemployment where getting up from the couch was a trial.  Sitting up and drawing was massive progress, and a huge help in my recovery.

Partway through January, I decided to make use of my free time while I was still unemployed.  I bought the cheapest plane tickets I could find to Mexico City.  I set up a very makeshift studio on my friend Miguel's rooftop.


A rooftop in a residential subdivision on the outskirts of Mexico City in the middle of winter makes for a very unique studio, surrounded by sounds and smells of roaming street vendors hawking everything from tamales to water tanks.  The weather varies between pleasantly warm and freezing cold with gusting dry, dusty wind.  Urban wildlife and neighbour children stare quizzically.

With every passing hour spent drawing on that rooftop, the world seems just a little bit brighter. When one particularly filthy feral kitten adopts me as his mom, and spends several days curled up by my side or trying to "help" me draw, it's like the whole world is breaking open again.

On my return to Canada, I am delighted to discover a new art studio will be opening across the street from home, and renting small, affordable workspaces.

I am the first to sign up to rent a teeny little studio desk at the Bright Blue Door, just hours after interviewing for a part-time job at Miovision.  On studio-opening day, April 1st, I arrive with all my stuff, and transform my tiny desk in the corner into the coziest workspace.


Within just a few weeks, though, I've outgrown my tiny desk.  I've also gotten a quick promotion at my dayjob, so it's easy to justify a jump to a small booth space with a bit of extra storage. Over the summer,  I settle into a comfortable routine - alternating days working on illustrations at the studio with days testing software at Miovision.

However, calm and happy times rarely last forever.  In October, just as I was taking some extra responsibilities on at work, I am told that the studio I was renting from will be closing.

Finally, I decided to take a very large gamble. In November, I took over renting the entire 1500 square foot studio I used to rent a desk in.  I've carved out a large 140 square foot corner of the studio for myself, and am sharing costs with a small group of other artists.  Together, we are the KW Artists Co-op.  I've been working very hard to create a successful and sustainable co-op.  We have a lovely little library/snack station/kitchenette, and I have vibrant colour charts hanging over my workspace.

I've had to make significant sacrifices to my plans and lifestyle, but I am able to support not only my own rent, but also the remainder of the studio until we can find enough other members for our co-op.


I'm excited to see the changes that 2016 will bring.  I hope my studio situation will be more stable in the coming year, but I can't wait for this year's adventures.

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