Growing up I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my grandparents. The lessons they taught me are too numerous to count but the one I want to talk about today is the importance of carving out for your self your own personal creative space.
My grandpa is 88 years old and he still maintains a creative space of his own. In fact, I took this photo of his work desk on one of my recent visits to his home.
Not only does he maintain his space….he still ACTIVELY uses it. He spends hours everyday cutting, stamping, gluing, and writing….about trains. It’s his passion.
Growing up my grandpa always had a room in their home where he built extravagant model railroader sets. There he would photograph the remarkable models he created by hand and would then photograph them. His work was regularly featured in a variety of magazines. His craftsmanship still astonishes me. But what lingers with me (aside from his craftsmanship) is that he always created for himself a workable creative space.
My grandparents are not wealthy….my grandpa was a very hard worker often holding down at least two jobs at a time and finally retiring from the post office…but I never realized they were less than aristocrats growing up. Why? Because both of them always created for themselves the spaces they enjoyed most. In their condo, their mobile home, and their basement apartment they each always had their own creative space. My grandpa has always had a room dedicated to his model railroading. That was important to him so he made his creative space a priority.
As I look back now I am amazed by the amount of work he accomplished and the magnitude of his influence that came out of such a humble space. Aside from magazine spreads and video spots my grandfather also designed the paint job for an entire fleet of locomotives for a large railroad company. (And he still stews over them using the wrong font for the engine numbers.) All those designs, images, ideas, etc….came from a room the size of some peoples walk in closets.
If there is one thing my grandpa has shown me is that you don’t need to have it all to do what you love. You make due with what you have and if you love to do something you can find a way to do it. I believe that his example has helped me through the years continually to carve out for myself creative spaces…whether it be in our apartment, duplex, condo, or now home…I’ve always felt that it was not only important for me to have my own creative space but that it was a necessity and I didn’t need to apologize or feel silly or selfish for wanting that space.
Now, my creative space hasn’t always been an entire room…or even an entire desk to myself. Often my creative spaces have taken more portable forms. But I have always created myself a bag, a drawer, a shelf, etc. to call my own creative space. Here are a few of the forms that my creative spaces have taken:
*A giant Tupperware bin full of my art supplies that I kept under my bed.
*An oversized duffle bag, kept in a closet, that housed all of my supplies.
*A drawer in my nightstand that included my sketch pad, colored pencils, sharpener, etc.
*A corner in the family room with a card table and rolling Plastic bin full of all my sewing supplies.
Sure, they haven’t always been luxurious but if I have my supplies and an area to work (even if that area is the kitchen table or a clip board while I’m curled up on the couch next to my duffle bag) then I am happy. In fact, I still keep all of my personal, favorite art supplies in a bag. Then at night, or when the kids are at school I can pull out that bag and have a portable creative space to draw. Would it be awesome to have an art studio? You better believe it. But can I make do with what I have? Absolutely and happily.
If you have always wanted to create for yourself a creative space but haven’t done it yet…DO IT! Start small….with a tote bag. Load it will all your creative supplies and tuck it away where no one else will run across it and use your precious supplies! It’s just for you. Only pull it out when you need to create.
Don’t want to use a bag? Clear out a draw in your nightstand. Line it with some beautiful fabric and then stock it full of your creative supplies (and maybe a few snacks).
Or, if you can, take that next step. Set up for yourself a small work desk. Where? Where ever you can. In your bedroom, the family room, the basement….like I said, where ever you can. Just make sure it is a place where you can be creative. (So if you hate the basement because it’s cold and scary…don’t set your desk up down there! Maybe wait until you can clear out a corner of your bedroom 🙂 ).
Allowing yourself to have a creative space is a gift you CAN give yourself. I know it. I’ve watched my grandparents do it and I’ve done it myself. You don’t even need to spend a dime. Start with what you have. You don’t need an extra room, expensive equipment, or anything else. Just those supplies that you love to create with (sewing, drawing, scrapbooking, knitting, whatever!) and a bag. Anything beyond that is all just bonus material!
PS: Above my grandpa’s desk he always has signs and quotes two of my favorites are: “A tidy desk is the sign of an empty mind” and “Organized people are just too lazy too look for things.” (And like my grandpa….my desk is always cluttered with scraps, papers, ideas, and even fingernail clippers.)