Make a small space a creative space

Making art in a small one bedroom apartment is hard. Canvases, acrylics, watercolors, brushes, markers, pens — pretty soon your entire living space is littered with that shit. And it seems like every bit of "How To Be An Artist" advice out there assumes you have a spare room to turn into a home art studio, but for those of us without that luxury, here's how you can make a creative space out of a small space. The key is to be organized and comfortable in whatever space you do have.

I have a decent amount of supplies and I'm more inspired to create if everything I need is easily within reach. Of course, in a small space this is tricky. I'm already a bit of a "over decorator" and leaving art supplies cluttered all over the house just looks awful. 

In the above photo, you can see the area in my living room where I store my "B List" supplies. I try to avoid opening the orange storage cabinet as much as possible because it falls apart every time I have to get something out of there. I didn't even want to open it for the sake of this blog post to show you all the crap I keep in there. I keep things like spray paint, construction paper, sewing and embroidery stuff, and other unexciting things that I'm not currently interested in. 

To the left of the chair, you'll see my folding easel tucked away for acrylic paintings. It's a beautiful easel, but it's gigantic, clunky and just takes up too much room, so I mostly keep it out of the way.

This is how I store my "A List" art supplies. Because I've cut these down to only the most important supplies I'm interested in (currently drawing, watercolors, markers, and stamp carving) it's portable and I can easily carry this stack around the apartment in just one trip. I've invested in some good looking boxes so they don't look entirely terrible sitting around on the table or floor. 

Here's all my paintbrushes — they are almost all in sad shape, since most are from those shitty beginner bargain sets. The bristles tend to come off at the most inopportune times, but I still can't bear to throw then away. I'm slowly starting to replace them with nicer quality brushes, but it's a slow process as it kills me a little to spend $15 on a stick of wood and a fluff of synthetic bristles. And if you don't have a T-Square in your supplies, do yourself a favor and get one as soon as possible.

This little outer space box is full of watercolor tubes. There are three different brands, all of them beginner level. I'm still too new (and poor) to feel the need to graduate to the next level, so for now these are working just fine. 

This pencil case is new — I previously had all my pens, mechanical pencils, and Sharpies held together by a rubber band, which just resulted in things falling on the floor every time I removed something. However this lovely little number has three pockets, so I can keep everything separated. Plus, birds! 

This art box rotates it's contents based on what I'm currently interested in. Let's take a peek inside, shall we?

Here's the rest of my watercolor supplies. Up in the top left are my new water brushes, which I have yet to try out. Underneath that is a watercolor travel kit, also new and unused. I'm looking forward to taking these outside this summer for some people watching (and let's face facts, more bird portraits.) Next to the travel kit is my very first watercolor palette that I really only keep around for quick projects and sentimental reasons. Yes, it's incredibly adorable, but the paints are chalky, stubborn, and smear easily. Above that are concentrated watercolors that are bright and punchy and worth every cent. And next to those is a jar of watercolor ground, which I'll talk about at some point in the future when I'm ready to start that project.

Ahhhh, my beautiful, beautiful markers. Since I'm just starting out learning how to use these, I went with an art store brand instead of springing for pricey Prismacolors. Honestly I like these better than the few Prismacolors I've collected over the years, as the color is less saturated and the triangular body is easier to hold.

And lastly, my newest addition to the project box is some stamp carving tools. I follow this really cool stamp carver on Instagram (Of Ten Stamps) and she's inspired me to pick this up again. Thanks to Becca for getting me the kit — I am having such a difficult time deciding what to do!

Other people who make art in small spaces, how do you deal with all your stuff?