Imagine a space designed especially for you to do what you love in. Where would it be? What would it look like? How would you fill it?
We chatted with Hallmark illustrator Colin W. about the studio he and his wife Sarah built in their basement. She’s also an illustrator, and together they create prints, accessories and more for TigerSheep Friends.
What do you make?
Funny, quirky, pretty, manly, goofy stuff. For kids…and adults who think they’re kids. Pillows, art prints, tote bags, mugs, buttons, magnets, enamel pins…and we’re setting up for a screen print space.
What made you say, “OK. It’s time for a separate studio space?”
We have a three-year-old son, Finn. Right before he was born, we re-did the entire basement.
We used to keep everything in the room we gave to him—I had my little corner and Sarah had hers. She’s a full-time freelancer and she works there all day, so we knew we wanted a bigger room.
How much planning went into designing your studio?
We had a professional finish the space, and the rest is kind of a hodge-podge.
We designed it for collaboration: We set up our computers face to face, so we can talk about ideas. We just built a ginormous painting table. It’s a great space for two people to work—and Finn can be there, too. He’s got his toys, and he’s starting to get really into painting.
What kind of stuff did you put in there?
It’s not…beige. We’ve got everything on the walls: current projects, a big tapestry with bold images, Christmas lights. Things we love. Lots of books, lots of toys. Then we’ve got a flat file for mock-ups, a sewing area…and Sarah has done a great job of organizing things.
What’s your favorite thing about it?
The big table is the coolest thing. We have hopes of our friends coming over and doing like a girls’ painting night, “doodle fun with bourbon,” stuff like that.
It seems like everyone we know has a creative side hustle. Tell us about yours…
Six years ago, we were planning to send our daughter to study abroad, and we started a shop called Petite Reve to make money. It gave us a chance to do all the weird stuff we can’t do for our real jobs. We’ve noticed people will walk by our pop-ups and start laughing: “Oh! You have a pink cat with boots!” We bring joy to people when they shop.
What’s your advice to people who want to make their own studio space?
Organize it. Know what kind of work you’re going to do there and how you’ll work together, if you’re sharing it. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a larger space, you’ll end up on top of each other. Like in our bathroom…
Make it fun to be there. We’re surrounded by artwork and toys and books…and washi tape. So much washi tape.
Get tools you love. We’ve got a really fun button-maker and a good printer.
Photographer: Patrick Bush