Arts Council of Wales | Finding a studio or workshop

Finding a studio or workshop

Advice for Creative Professionals.

Download this page as a document: Finding a studio or workshop: Information Sheet

Some things to consider

While the notes below are written mainly as a checklist, achieving them all may not be possible.

Always visit in person and meet the other artists if it is a shared studio. It is important to get a feel of the place and although obvious, make sure you know all the contact details (and landlord's details) and that they have yours.

If there are no spaces currently available, see if there is an application process and get on the waiting list.

What type of work do you make?

While you may never really know what you are actually making, in terms of scale or media, from one month to the next, you should have some idea of the work you have aspirations for and want to develop in the immediate six months.

This dictates what size and type of space you are looking for; too big will be too costly and will affect how you realise work; likewise a space which is too small will reduce your ambitions. If you’re looking for a studio/workshop for the first time, be realistic about where you will be in a year or so.

The studio/workshop is a physical extension of your headspace: for manageable/achievable goals seek manageable spaces.

Is it close to where you live?

Studios ideally should be the distance of a short car journey, a cycle ride or a good walk from home. Far enough away so you identify it as a separate headspace, and place from home.

It should be where you go to work, while close enough to allow you to get in as often as possible, fitting in around all the other things to have to do to allow you time to make work.

From a personal welfare perspective, think of your journey there and imagine what it will be like using and leaving your studio at night.

Does the space have the right facilities for you?

Generally artists’ studios do not come with shared equipment, most being simply being spaces to work in.

Some may have a funded, shared area with facilities such as computers, internet access, while others maybe for specific practices such as video work or ceramics.

Check things like:

  • if there is a toilet and running water
  • easy access
  • how many power points
  • the state of any communal areas

Workshops can be equipped with a range of equipment, kilns, band saws etc. Do you know how to operate these? Check if there is training and adequate safety measures in operation.

How much can you afford?

Work out your budget. Landlords will usually expect a direct debit paid monthly.

Initially, you may not be making an income from your practice from which studio rent would logically be taken from.

Work out all your income and outgoings, remembering to use realistic figures which includes cost for food, clothes and socialising, not simply standing orders, credit cards and direct debits.

A current estimated cost for an artist's studio space 10ftx10ft is £15-£20 a week. Workshops are more expensive because of additional facilities and costs.

How often can you use it?

As well as considering the studio’s location and how much can you afford, you also need to think about other commitments. These are things such as family, employment (full and part-time) and social time.

Identify fixed studio days in your weekly regime. Try to avoid compromising or switching these days around.

What is it like in terms of access?

Many studios offer 24-hour access. You will have a set of keys.

Consider: will you be working through the night? Is the location and building a good place to work on your own?

Is it safe and secure?

Ensure you have a set of keys for all doors and gates.

Many studios and workspaces have outer gates. Your space, if it is a unit, should have its own lock. If you move into a new space, buy a new padlock and take it with you when you move out.

Can you share with someone?

Sharing can be fun and good for your practice and social life. Sharing equipment means you have more space to work in. Sharing may mean the rent is cheaper.

Another way to save rent is to sub-let. If you are not going to be using the studio for an extended period of time, for example 3 months, you may want to rent the space to someone and not pay rent. Remember to clear this with the landlord. The person sub-letting also needs to set up a direct debit with you.

Is your equipment insured?

If you are going to keep expensive equipment in the space, you should include them on a contents insurance policy as they are unlikely to be covered on a rental agreement.

Does it suffer from damp?

Workshops and studios are often pretty run-down buildings. Be aware that if you are using paper and card, photography or printing, they may be affected by damp. Whilst this may not be a problem in the summer, in winter you may want to heat the space.

Avoid using an electric heater because of the high running costs and safety. Check with your landlord about using a free standing LPG gas heater. You may also need to consider using a de-humidifier.

Are you clear who the landlord is?

Studios and workshops may have many members.

The head of the studios, and the person to whom you pay money, may not be the actual landlord. Usually it is another artist who collects all the rents as the landlord will prefer a single payment.

Remember to get a contract from the actual landlord who is liable for repairs etc.

For how long is the space available?

Many studios are available on a temporary basis.

They may be in the process of getting planning permission and your time there may not be long-term.

It is good to envisage, before you move in, how long you intend to be there and if this suits you. For you the space maybe a means to an end for a particular project or something more settled.

Ask about the history of the building and how long the space is likely to be available for. Many studios are in disused buildings and could be sold and redeveloped.

Does the rent include electric/gas and water?

The studio rent may not include shared bills for utilities such as water and sewage. If they are not included, it could affect your budget and ability to afford the space.

Do you pay only for your space or as part of a group? Be aware of collective costs if, for example, gas bills are divided.

Does the rent include business rates?

Studios and workshops are liable for business rates, which is a council tax for businesses. Calculated on the size of the building, the landlord is likely to pass this charge onto you as you are using the space.

Are the artists collectively registered as a non-profit organisation?

Business rates are greatly reduced for registered charities and non-profit organisations. Some studios are therefore set up as non-profit organisations.

Be part of a community

If you are part of a studio group, everyone will be facing similar experiences in balancing life and making work. It is good practice to support each other and contribute voluntarily to shared activities such as open studios or join the studio committee.

Studios in your area

Some studios and workshops will have websites, while many are located through word of mouth. Check arts related message boards, local libraries and colleges. Contact your local authority arts officer who may be linked to an art forum for the region.

National Federation of Artist Studio Providers

Setting up a gallery as part of the studios

Another option is to get together with other artists and find a location to set up you own studios or gallery.

Read the a-n The Artists Information Company Toolkit

Artquest: Artists Resource

Working from Home

Whilst not being ideal, it is possible that initially you will be working from home. However it is better to focus on your work in an allocated space. Having your everyday life and your artistic practice overlapping is a recipe for stress and best avoided.

If you can, prepare a spare room or a garden shed and put a sign of the door indicating that it is 'the studio'. As well as being good for the psyche, it is also practical as there are various things you can claim for whilst being self-employed and working from home. But your place of work still needs to be distinguished from your home.

Residency studios

Larger arts organisations and studio buildings with galleries may have spaces set up for temporary residencies.

Opportunities for travel and making work in other countries can be found on a number of websites. Many schemes cover your living costs but may not include travel, while some include a bursary.

Before you apply, make sure you are clear about what costs will be covered by the organisation and what you will need to pay.

Resartis; Arts Resource

Transartists: Arts Resource

Helix Arts

Other links

Choosing a studio:

Artists Terms

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