Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Organizing and inspiring your artistic life

By Katy of muchacha K handmade

There’s this really pervasive stereotype that creative people are not organized. In some ways, that may seem to be true, but at the same time, we manage to pull off some amazing completed artistic feats. Certainly, our work requires some kind of organized thinking…how do we channel that organized thinking and apply its magic to our workspace and work process?

One of the tricks with organizing is that different tricks work for different people. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about organizing myself and the first thing I did was look at what areas of my life were really organized, and which ones weren’t. My day job life, for example, is super organized because it needs to be. I work as a paralegal and the very definition of my job is to be meticulous and organized. Why was this not translating to my creative work space? Rather than even wasting time answering that question, I decided simply to look at what worked for me in that role, and translate it to my studio space. Here’s what I figured out:

1) Don’t feel self-conscious about using the system that works for you. If it keeps you organized, then it’s the right method. For me, it means that I need to have a giant (GIANT) sheet of paper on the wall that I write each order and its details on. I can see that sheet from every point in the room so if I forget what I’m doing, all I have to do is glance. A cool variation that a former BHer shared was having a “chalkboard” wall. Wicked. I use similar visual cues when I’m at the office so this was an easy thing to translate into my creative setting.

2) Clean your work space every day. Pretend that you have to share that space with other people. At the law office I share duties with another paralegal. Even when I was the only paralegal though, I still cleaned my space every day. It lets you clear the slate for the next day’s creations, and that clean space can be motivational. I leave a small, to-do pile so that when I come back, I know just where I left off.

3) At the office, we organize the office by alphabet but that didn’t translate to sewing. But I organize my fabrics by color. That way, my bridal customers can find “their color” with ease, and so can I. There may be many ways to organize your supplies but what makes life for you AND your customers easiest?

4) How do you keep track of your coolest ideas? Corkboards work well for me. They give me an obvious, visual reminder. A place to keep things for later. A place to put those great ideas so I can let go of them and come back to them later. A place to put those inspiring tidbits so they keep inspiring me. A place to put all my notes to self so that they don’t take over my work/creative space.

5) I also put thank you notes from customers in an obvious place so I can enjoy them. Sometimes even creative work is lonely, and it helps me stay motivated when I’m feeling appreciated!

6) I got a filing cabinet. I have all kinds of paperwork for my creative business that didn’t yet have a home. It seems logical of course now, but for so long it was so easy to avoid. Now that all the paper is finding a home, my mind and my creative space seem so much clearer and more ready for creating.

These methods have really helped me keep my creative space more functional, and more fun. When my space feels productive, I feel good about my creative work.


  1. an inspiring post. My space is so tiny that ideas keep getting lost under ideas. Just sorting the piles gets the juices flowing, but I usually put "cleaning" - now I'm going to try it as a morning ritual.

  2. Wow Katy that was so helpful! I always have a clearer mind and easier time creating when my space is clean, even though I loathe cleaning. And a chalkboard wall - what a great idea!!

  3. I know, isn't the chalkboard wall brilliant? It wasn't my idea but I tell people about it all the time because it's really such a good idea...


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