London, capital of the United Kingdom, over 8 million people, the third largest city in Europe, the 7th most expensive city on the planet and undoubtedly one of greatest centres for creative practice in the world. So as an artist living here, in the thick of it all, I have learnt to adapt to living in a small space. I moved here 3 years ago to study and have stayed put. Most people think it’s strange when I tell them that as an artist I don’t have a studio space. They know my work, but don’t understand how I make it. I quite like that. Leaving a little mystery is good, but I think the time has come to explain a bit.
      As a fine artist working with photography, having a studio has never been that important to me. It’s the location that’s the main thing. I am near places that give me inspiration and useful resources. Most importantly, I am surrounded by interesting and powerful people. I have to think about my artwork time carefully. In order to support myself I also work as a graphic designer – a big stretch from my art practice, but still creative in some way. This means I have to balance my time to create my art, to do what’s really important to me. In my free time I am constantly in search of new things to document, taking my camera wherever I go. Luckily I work close to my former Art School, Chelsea College of Art & Design. I often pop in to use the library after work and also to network (another great thing when living in a capital city). Collaborating with artists and students is a bigger priority to me than spending time in a studio space. After arriving home after a successful photo shoot I will transform my bedroom into a workstation. Shelves will be covered in newspapers, ink-pots will appear in every corner and my printer will be centre stage. Books are arranged into temporary tables, and I am now in my artist mode. This workstation can last for days. It can depend on the successful outcome of each print, drying time, or the overall quality of the photographs I am working with. I print my images onto different types of paper, manipulating them using alternative materials such as inks, water and kitchen essentials. The kitchen also becomes an extension of my “studio”. I experiment with bicarbonate of soda, dishwasher salt, food colouring, flour, even food. I do this because I want to get away from the controlled nature of digital software. I can admit that the majority of the effects I add to my prints can be achieved using Adobe Photoshop and other editing programs. But the process I have chosen to use takes me away from that dominating screen. It also leaves chance for the “happy mistake”, something that I find an important factor when creating artwork. When you use Photoshop you will have the “undo” option. I don’t have this when I’m applying my alternative materials, and I find this much more exciting. London has a lot to offer, but as we know that also means the cost of living goes up. A studio here costs time and money, so I have decided to work my life around this. I believe if you can manage to survive without one, do it. Because if you really want to get out there and create, you can.       

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SURVIVING WITHOUT A STUDIO