Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Project: Getting Creative (and Organized)

Not my office: picture via Domino

Hope everyone is having a splendid weekend- right now I'm working on going through some of the less organized areas of my apartment and getting rid of clutter. I'm going to tackle *gulp* under the bed next, which should be interesting since I tend to stash all my crap there when I want to forget about it, and now it's full.

Along that vein, check out this article by Domino on establishing and organizing a creative space. I've been going through the Domino website ever since I found out that they were shutting it down with the magazine- basically nabbing photos and articles that I find particularly inspirational and stashing them on my computer. At any rate, this particular article speaks to me since I am working on my own desk project.

Here are a few of my favorite tips from the article:

choose your space Maybe it's a studio out in some bucolic garden. Maybe it's a miniscule desk stowed in a bedroom nook. Either way, what's important is that this space feels good to you. Do you love or loathe natural light? Will you be too distracted around a lot of books or the television? Does one part of your house or apartment just feel better to you? If possible, try out a few different spaces. Find the one that works the best, and set up camp. (maybe it's shoved against the wall in your living room because there is literally no other place for it?)

to thineself be true If you need a lot of room where you can spread out all your crafty projects and leave them overnight, it's extra important to have a worktable dedicated just to this. You don't want to use set-up and clean-up times as excuses. If you know you work best when actively blocking out distractions, maybe all you need is a laptop and a corner café. Remember that not everyone works best in his or her own home. It's all about learning what works best for you, and not judging it.

it's clean-up time Get rid of everything you don't need: old projects, other people's stuff, pieces of furniture or accessories irrelevant to the tasks at hand. Clutter is a great way to distract yourself and provide a built-in procrastination excuse ("Oh, I'll finish that sonnet, I just need to organize my tax returns first..."). It also blocks energy, in case you speak feng shui. (oh, how very true- I have all kinds of clutter around my work space, which is maybe why I have trouble getting work done)

prepare your arsenal If you are a visual artist, separate your paints, inks, and pencils into individual containers. If you're a crafter, set aside separate areas for felt, thread, googly eyes, and the like. Once you actually get to sit down and work on something, you don't want to have to spend a lot of time finding the tools you need just to get started. There are enough obstacles to making art; no need to create your own. (for me, this means having several cups for pens, pencils, highlighters, plus a bookshelf right next to my desk where I can store textbooks and research articles I'm working with- otherwise they end up all over the place)

gather your totems Surround yourself with meaningful objects that spark your creativity. Maybe this is an inspiration board collaged with images and sketches. Maybe this is a special souvenir or relic that conjures a creative state of mind or reminds you of what you want to create. The surface area of my desk is dedicated solely to a laptop, a playful and expressive lamp designed by Marcel Dzama, one of my favorite artists, and some totem-like objects: a glass globe of sand from White Sands, New Mexico accompanied me as I wrote my book which took place in the southwest. (some people aren't into personal things, but I don't know what I'd do without my smattering of trinkets from my grandma, my mom, Nathan, etc- they keep me happy and inspired)

Also: if you're really wanting to get organized check out this book by Julie Morgenstern which is all about making organization work for you (instead of you working for organization).

Alright, back to my own project. Tigger just came out from under the bed and she's got tinsel on her head. I don't even know how tinsel got under there- ugh.

PS: you can read the goodbye letter to Domino readers here. Try not to cry.


  1. Aw what a nice space in the picture. I've always tried to get my desk to look nice like that but it never works. I have two bulletin boards around my desk, one that I stick reminders and schedules on and the other one is full of pics of family and friends! Then the desk itself usually has my laptop and whatever project I'm working on scattered over it!! Good luck with your organizing process, you'll have to take a pic of YOUR desk once it's done :-)

  2. Tinsel is an evil evil thing in its ability to get places. it's almost as bad as glitter.
    best of luck on the organization!

  3. I need to print out this post, blow it up, frame it and hang it in my office! Unfortunately, my office is closed off to save on heating bills, there's so much junk in there as a result that I can't get to my printer and I'm too lazy to drag myself upstairs. See my problem?


  4. Nick- yes, tinsel is the bane of my life right now. It never goes away- the last time I was around tinsel it was at my office holiday party, and I must have dragged some home on my clothes because I keep finding it on the floor. And the cat keeps trying to eat it. I'm pretty sure it's reproducing, or something.


  5. Kat- I totally had that problem at my old house. Unfortunately/fortunately (not sure which) I now HAVE to keep my desk clean because it's in my living room, and it's like the first thing I see when I come inside. Darn you studio apartment.


  6. oooh there's nothing i like more than a week-end spent organizing (does that make me nutty?)

  7. Not at all Joslyn- I sometimes feel like that too. Organizing itself is alright, but the feeling you get when it's all done is the best.