Thursday, June 7, 2012

Home Away From Home

Today’s topic is in response to a request from an artist friend who is considering a studio and wanted more information. 

The Basics
I share my studio, Golden Point One, with my good friend June (JunieB).  We inked the 6-month lease back in 2010 on a 10 x 17’ refurbished motel unit.  We were the first tenants in what was to become studio apartments for students at the Colorado School of Mines.  Our space is one of the two office units. We are a working studio rather than a gallery/retail studio.

We have a small kitchen with a mini fridge and sink, and our bathroom is a toilet and a sink.  The original owner made the shower into shelving units for storage after we assured him we would never be taking a shower at the studio.

The one drawback is that we don’t have a/c but we usually paint in the morning and the elevation of Golden keeps it rather cool.  We do get cross ventilation.  It’s best if you can control the heat/air in your own space, but always have a fan and a space heater on hand.

For us, we can park right outside our front door.  We have assigned (sort-of) parking spaces.  When we have visitors there are places for them to park short-term (about 20 minutes), but the bowling alley is right across the side street and there is plenty of long-term parking available for free.

Nearby we have a coffee shop, The Fifth Ring, which becomes our entertainment place when we have company.  Our studio is only big enough to work in.  There are several restaurants nearby, however, I have found it best to eat a good breakfast and then work until about 1pm and then have lunch.  If I take a break for lunch, I’m done working for the day.

The $$
We have had two super landlords (we both had a crush on the first one, Henry, who was young enough to be - well, let’s just say a much younger brother.)  Our rent hasn’t been raised since we moved in, and we have a verbal promise that as long as we stay the rent will stay the same.  Our lease is now for 1 year at a time.
My share of the rent is $225, and I’m sure that won’t translate to the cost of living in other areas, but we are in Golden, CO which is fairly pricey in terms of real estate for the Denver region.  All of our utilities are covered in the rent. (Gas, electric, water, wi-fi, trash pick-up)

We don’t carry liability insurance, and have yet to purchase a policy for the belongings in our studio.   Our little budget just won’t stretch that far yet.  This is a topic for your insurance agent. 
June’s dad, Ted, was the owner of a sign company in upstate NY and still works at 90-something.  He donated our awesome sign.  (My dad, Grant, has passed on but he still makes his presence known.  Many called my dad, Mr. G, and after we moved in and had time to view the surroundings I noticed the mesa seen above our studio has a big “G” on it.  All is well with the world.)

As for ongoing shop expenses such as supplies, we just trade off bringing in paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, trash bags, Kleenex and other necessities.  I hate cleaning so most of it is done by June and I try to trade other things of value when she cleans.
When tax time rolls around I claim all the expenses (my share) on my Schedule C.  We have our taxes prepared for us, so that’s about all I know. 

We don’t have a sales tax license and any sales we make from the studio proper (which hasn’t happened yet) we will sell through our local co-op gallery.  We are both members and they will collect sales tax for us.  My sales are 99.9% online.

Today’s Nitty Gritty Nugget:
      Don’t let the prospect of a studio scare you. Be cautious, not scared.

What’s Next?

1.       Write out how you plan to use the space, this will help you make other decisions.

2.       Decide whether you’re going to go it alone.  There are pros and cons to that.  It depends on your idea of how you want to use the space and who you are considering as a partner.

3.       If you have a partner, find an easy out for both of you if it doesn’t work.

4.       Find something affordable.  Paying the rent becomes your top priority.

5.       Your space must also feel safe and a good place to be.  It will be hard enough getting yourself there, you don’t want bad ju-ju to be a reason not to go.

6.       Have a friend (preferably good with legalese) review your lease before signing.

7.       Talk with an insurance agent about how you’re going to use the space.

8.       Divvy up the daily tasks of running the studio: cleaning, providing supplies, etc.

9.       Keep track of your expenses for tax purposes (even if it’s a shoebox.)

10.   Then get in there and paint and create!  There’s rent to pay!

Junie B
My Space - the one with the Starbucks!


  1. Thanks for posting pictures of the inside of your studio. I kept thinking that if I had a shop/studio that it would have to be 'presentable' and look like a store! But I like the idea of just being for you and your art space partner. I would definitely need to have a partner....and a homey space. hmmm...decisions decision!

  2. Great post. This is something I have been considering as well. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!