Monday 10 April 2017


Next month I move into my first proper studio space, at EPOK. Some thoughts:

I had a few people ask about it, and so I thought it's probably easier to stick some musings down. As always I also find it very useful to post in advance of this sort of move, as a way of being able to check back in a few months and weigh up how things panned out compared to what I anticipated.

Moving into a dedicated space is something I'd been toying with for a while, and my reasoning has split between a few big obvious practical concerns, and some slightly less easy-to-define personal reasons.

In practical terms, the big one certainly in the short to medium term is that I currently work from home for the most part. This is pretty handy in many ways - great commute! - but sharing a quiet space with two decidedly not-quiet children (currently 1 and 4 years old) is obviously quite difficult. There's nothing that'll kill your train of thought like a toddler clattering into the room, adorable as he is. And of course, I have a lot of breakable/expensive/breakable and expensive gear, which is also highly incompatible with the aforementioned small humans.

The space I work in at home is also not ideal. It's technically my space: a medium sized room that used to be the garage but was converted by the previous owners. But... I share it with a tumble dryer and a load of collected boxes and bits and pieces from when we moved (two years ago, for shame) and usually the pushchair and whatever else we need to shift out of the main living space. A relaxed environment, it is not. Of course one of the benefits to me getting out of there is that we can then reclaim that room properly and shift all our crap into it, which means our living space will hopefully be less cluttered and more happy. So that's good.

So, practical stuff is obvious then.

But the other half to the story is that I really, really, really need to shift how I work.

This means a couple of things.

Firstly, right now my working hours are just stupid. I have a serious work/life balance thing that I need to get sorted out. I'm not usually so busy that I need to really crunch hard on things, or do late nights. But: the temptation to pop back in and finish that last thing off, or answer one last email, or whatever else, is far too great when my workspace is in the room next to where I'm supposed to turn my brain off at the end of the day. And so, establishing a separation of concerns can only be a good thing. Obviously, there's long hours and obsessive fine-tuning and sometimes I get lost in what I'm doing, but as a general thing I think I need to be able to stand up, walk away, lock the door behind me, and go see my wife and kids, and be 100% with them. Small thing but important.

Finally, and I think probably just as importantly, is that I need time and space to really start pushing my practice into where I know it should be, and beyond. When I got onto FAULT LINES, one of the main things I knew I wanted to achieve was to really start to address the balance in terms of the type of work I'm engaged on - right now I work for others more than I work for myself, and while in practical monetary terms this is currently a sensible thing to do (the gigs that are good for my soul are terrible for my bank balance), it's something that I'm making a conscious effort to change. Every fibre of my being is telling me I'm not currently doing what I've been put here to do - all that stuff about not wanting to remain a conduit for someone else's creativity is still at the very forefront of all my efforts. I'm in a position where I'm hopefully going to be spinning up on more and more paid opps that aren't for someone's product, and in the gaps in between I'm going to be interrogating everything on my internal radar at full pelt, properly. Space and time to breathe, and explore. My voice, my terms.

It's also worth mentioning that EPOK is a wonderful little place too - it's a small artist-led gallery/studios space in Stockport, and I'm looking forward to seeing where I slot in there among two other different practitioners. I enjoy the idea of new and collaborative work outside my field (if you haven't figured it out yet, my collaborations with people who aren't like me is where the good stuff is), and being able to use the workshop/exhibition space downstairs is going to be really useful too. Stuff is really happening there, and I can't wait to be part of that story too.

So yes, that's the thing. Let's see how it goes.

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