In this Open Studio Tour series, we’ll be snooping around artists’ creative spaces, how they set them up, when, why…even how often they clean them! We really want to know all about our artists, and maybe get a bit of inspiration!
Today I knocked at Michelle Caplan aka mcaplan‘s door. She is a Los Angeles based mixed media artist, who just recently gave herself a daily collage challenge: CollageLab.
What’s your name and what kind of craft do you do?
My name is Michelle Caplan, and I am a Mixed Media Collage Portrait Artist. I create one of a kind original art pieces from found photographs. I also do a lot of commissioned work using clients’ own photos. I work primarily in collage, but lately have been branching out to sewing, painting and drawing.
When did you decide that you needed a studio?
I have always been an artist in some way. As a little girl I remember having high nook/shelf in my closet that I used as a "craft area." I would have to stand on a side table to reach, but it was totally worth it! From that time, I always dreamed of having a space where I could make a mess, and not have sacrifice living in a tidy environment. When my husband and I went looking for a house, we knew that the right home would have to be one with a room for my art. We learned very quickly while living in a one bedroom apartment that the paper can quickly take over, and that was before this really became my business. It is now 3 years later and I have outgrown my studio and have work surfaces in the dining room for larger canvases. I am slowly taking over the entire house. I have learned that regardless of space, the paper will always find a way to take over! It has a mind of its own.
When and how have you set up your studio?
My studio was first set up in 2005, but has evolved since. I try to be pretty well organized. One wall is storage and work surface, but not very deep. That is where I do a lot of research, cutting, painting and planning. I also tend to pile up things on this desk when I don’t have immediate time to get to them, and usually a mess builds from there. Left of that wall I have a desk with my computer, scanner, and printer, etc. Left again is a wall covered in bookcases. I have tons of books and magazines I use in my backgrounds and this is where they live. In front of the cases I have an ironing board set up as another work surface, and of course for ironing when I am working on a sewing project, but mostly it has become a holding place for ideas in the making and canvases waiting to be tackled. Lastly, what used to be the closet has become a giant file drawer nook. Behind the door I installed long towel bars to hang large pieces of paper on.
In another area of the house, I also have a huge 4ft x 8 ft table that I use for gluing and working. Because the table is so big, it is great for big canvases and multiple projects. Sure it is in the middle of the house, but at least I can still interact and work at the same time!
Did the studio set up impact your crafter budget?
So far I have been super lucky and have found great tables at local garage sales. (I got the 4ft x 8ft one for 20 bucks from a neighbor!) Plus Ikea has made organizing a breeze! For me, it is really all about surfaces to work on. My husband was patient enough to help me figure out the best use of my space, and then made it come to life! One of the surfaces in my studio is a hollow core door, cut to fit on top of a bunch of file drawers. It was really affordable, is totally sturdy, and I don’t have to worry about getting glue or paint all over it!
How big is your studio?
My actual studio is 10’x10′, but the middle of the house also serves as my work space, and that is a pretty good space. I do wish everything was in one place (like the dream garage set up!)
Which is your favorite tool in your studio?
It is a toss up between my brush, glue and bone folder. Each item gets used in conjunction with the other, and really one couldn’t work without the other, so I say all 3.
Do you want to share with us one secret of your studio?
What you see in these pictures is totally doctored to look neat. I would have to say that 75% of the time, it looks like a paper explosion in this room.
There is paper everywhere, including the floor. Also, I sit on a balance ball most days, instead of a chair.
How many hours do you normally spend in your studio?
Easily 10-12 hours a day. Give or take. This is my full time job!
Do you share your studio with someone or would you like to do so?
It would never work because I would feel bad about my mess, and become obsessed with tidying. I would never get anywhere!
Is there anything you would add to your working space?
About 400 square feet. I dream of one day converting our garage into a real studio, with room for big canvases on the center table and a sewing station, with my fabric organized above it, and, well, I could go on and on. The whole room is laid out in my head. For that to happen it will definitively take a lot of saving! A girl can dream, can’t she?
If you had to choose one synonym for your studio which one would you pick: atelier, family room, lair, lodge, nest, playroom, retreat, sanctuary, shelter, darkroom, or, showroom and why?
Well, I guess I would have to say playroom. I do have a great time in here, and all of my toys are here, and if it weren’t a room based in fun and exploration, then it wouldn’t be a place I would want to work in! The rest of the areas in the house that I work in are definitively showrooms! There is art hanging everywhere, so that it is safe and out of the way. We have a constantly revolving "gallery wall" that serves as a storage space and place to photograph work.
And last but not least how often do you clean it?
Not as often as I should. As I said, there is often paper all over the place, and I get so easily distracted. It is a room of piles on most days.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It took me a while to figure out what set up would work best for me in the space that I have. A lot of my ideas came from seeing glimpses of other peoples work spaces online.
Thank you Fru, for creating this feature to help inspire and share with everyone here on Etsy! I can’t wait to see whose space is next! Thank you for stopping by!
Thank you Michelle, until next studio snooping, ciao!
If you have an interesting studio or workspace and some tips to share, comment below and you may be next in our Open Studio Tour series!