If you walk into my studio you might think that I have too much stuff and, most days, I would agree with you. Despite a never-ending cycle of “cleaning out,” I still have too many treasures. I like keeping creative tidbits that might be useful in a future project and I love boxes, fabric, paper and memorabilia.
Most of the art-related stuff that I’ve given away has not been missed, but there is this nagging incident involving of a set of dollhouse furniture. I kept this tiny kitchen table and four chairs for 10 years and, right after I decided I was never going to do anything with it and gave it away, I found the perfect use for it. I’m still looking for a replacement.
Most years my husband, Greg, and I go on a long driving trip of two weeks or more. Since we have a very small car we can only take so much. We always manage to fit in the art essentials, even if in the footwell: drawing tools, paper, a small lap loom, flower presses, assorted camera, video and computer equipment, and Ziploc baggies to collect found items. On one of these trips a few years ago I realized that we could go on pretty much indefinitely with only the things we had in the car. Yes, I’d have to figure out how to fit my cats in, but other than that, I wondered, why did we have all that other stuff at home? Thus began my fascination with the Minimalist movement.
Today I was reading a blog about minimalism that I like, Miss Minimalist, and the guest post by Robert Hickman had a gem of insight that made me grab a piece of paper and write down a quote for my studio wall.
Robert wrote, “I came to realise that I didn’t need everything I had ever created. My ability is in me, constantly improving. But my creations are static, quickly losing their relevance.”
Wow. Logically I know this, but for some reason reading that quote was a lightbulb moment for me.
I have a really difficult time letting to of past work and yet I know I can’t possibly store everything I’ve ever created. I’m often grateful that I’m a book artist and not a sculptor or painter of large works – artists’ books are pretty compact when closed.
What do you think? What percentage of your studio should be employed for storage of supplies and completed work? And when does storing things get in the way of creating new work?