10 Quick Tips to Organizing Your Studio

Barbara Carleton headshotGuest blogger Barbara Carleton of Bejeweled Software Company knows a lot about getting organized. She shares some ways to pull your studio together for increased productivity.



As artists, we enjoy messy creative spaces, and it’s common that our creativity can spill over from the table, to the floor, to covering the entire studio.

It’s time to take a stand against clutter! And free your mind to create in a blank canvas of organized space.

1. Use Containers

Corral paint brushes, pens, and other tall tools into pretty jars and baskets. Organize your button collection into old spice jars, and keep them lined up in a drawer. The more you can organize like items together, the more you’ll be able to find. If store bought containers are too boring for you, try  these pastel glass jars, or kick it up with bold paint colors.

If you’re out of desk space for containers, try drawer dividers to help keep everything separate and organized in the drawer, plus you can take it out when you need anything .

2. Go Vertical

Have a lot of empty walls in your studio? It’s time to try organizing vertically!

Whether you install floor to ceiling shelving units, or you just want a few boxes nailed to the wall, take advantage of having your supplies at eye level, but off your floor and desk spaces.

3. Hang It

While you’re hanging your wall storage units, leave a space for hanging fabric and other large scraps. This can keep them off the floor, and out of crumpled piles, as well as by color and fabric type for additional organization.


Artist Sarah Stone in studio

Artist Sarah Stone works in her studio. She uses bins, containers and hanging pockets to keep things organized.


4.  Pitch It

Probably one of the most dreaded organizing techniques in the artist world, but also a necessary evil. Everything in your studio will outlive its usefulness. Your pencils become small charcoal nubs, fabric goes out of style, and paint dries up (even if you screw the lid on really tight!). If your tools or supplies no longer work, there is no storage room for it in your studio. Don’t feel guilty about putting your broken and dried out supplies where they belong – in the trash. But, if there is still a little life in it, but you’ve changed mediums or no longer use it, consider donating them to a local school or senior citizen organization.

5. Create Stations

If you’re lucky enough to have a bit of a square studio, with 3-4 walls, make each side of the room (and the center!) into a station.  One wall could be focused on sewing materials, while the other wall features an easel and wall shelves with paint supplies and brushes.

6. Track what’s going in, and what’s going out

Knowing your inventory levels is essential to keeping your studio organized. Knowing what pieces are going out, and what supplies are coming in, can better help you to prepare your studio space. If it gets too be too much for your old Excel spreadsheet to track, give this great craft and jewelry management software a try.

7. Labels

I go crazy for my label machine! Keeping everything in labeled containers helps me to know that everything has a home, and I can easily find what I need. If white labels aren’t visually interesting enough for you, try different styles of boxes and containers, and use different labels for each.

8. Store off site

Contrary to popular artist beliefs, you don’t have to store everything you might need in your studio! Move those large and lesser used items out of the studio, even off site to a personal storage locker.

9. Over the door (or closet) space

Don’t over look the empty doors and window sills in your studio. The backs of doors make great additional storage spaces, with the purchase of a shoe holder. Whether you like the feeling of the canvas ones, or you want the clear plastic holders so you can see what’s in the pocket, an over-the-door shoe rack could be just what your space needed.

10.  Clean Up After

Inspiration all drained out? Clean up after yourself! After all, what’s the point of all this time you spent organizing, if it’s ruined by a day’s work?

Cleaning up immediately after you’re done will insure that the next time inspiration strikes, you’ll have the space and supplies to create it.


Leave a comment: Try out some of these quick organization tips in your studio, and leave a comment with how it’s working for you. Also, share some of your best organization tips with us.


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  1. My method is to put everything away at the end of the day so I can start fresh the next day. All my supplies are stored by category in drawers or on shelves. I keep paints and what nots in covered plastic storage boxes on the shelves. All my open shelves are behind a wall of curtains – accessible but not adding to visual clutter. I use my wall space as a gallery to hang tapestries, apparel and installation art..
    See my work http://pamelapalmadesigns.com

    Studio 41 – Bakehouse Art Complex,
    Miami, FL

  2. To make the most of shelf space when storing smaller items in bulk (beads, mosaic tiles etc), try using square or rectangular containers rather than ’round’ sided jars which leave wasted space between the jars. To add an eco-friendly twist that’s easy on the hip pocket, cut the top off used milk or juice cartons.

  3. Barbara, I enjoyed your post, especially the part about cleaning up after yourself at the end of the day. I have recently made cleaning up at the end of the day a mission. It is surprising how many activities and artist can get into in one day. Hahaha! Great post and thanks for sharing.

  4. Laura Mowforth Giani says

    thanks this is great advice, I promise I’ll put it in to practise, my art studio is overflowing in chaotic mess after christmas! Here’s to an organised new year!

  5. Betty Smith says

    Good suggestions. I have another to add. I recently purchased a tall 6 shelf unit from the hardware store. My new “taboret” is a kitchen cart with a very nice, solid surface top that should hold up for years. These were purchased at our local big box hardware store and will hold all my art supplies. I was trying to “make do” with mismatched bedroom furniture. It really doesn’t work. Visually, with even the least clutter, my workspace appeared extremely cluttered. Now, I have see- through wire shelving (with a pretty design on the front of the shelves) and a “taboret” with a wire shelf and basket. This cart will be smaller than the two folding tables that I used, but also will not allow for as much clutter. I have learned how very important a solid surface floor is in a studio. I comandeered an upstairs (carpeted) bedroom. If we ever move, that carpet will have to come out. I use concentrated pigments (pastels) and have spent the last 4-6 days or so, trying to get them out of the light yellow carpet after an entire pastel box and easel hit the floor. The easel, the pastels, the box are all fine, but carpet?? OMG! Anyways, those are my suggestions.

    • Great suggestions, Betty. Studios are messy places (we’ve seen the photos!) and getting a handle on where everything is is so important. Appreciate that you shared your experience.

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