Martyn Thompson’s Working Space: Interview + Giveaway

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I’ll be the first to admit that, by and large, the world depicted within interior books and magazines is a fantasy. Sure, the spaces filling their pages are beautiful and awe-inspiring, but they are also cleaned up—styled, decorated, and well-lit; a layer of high-gloss sheen covering the dust and detritus of everyday life. Where are the stacks of mail? The dirty dishes? The unmade beds? Are there really fresh-cut tulips on that coffee table every day? Like the models in fashion magazines, their pores and wrinkles zapped away through the magic of Photoshop, these spaces are given their own sort of face-lift. Of course, this is to be expected: when you have guests over (especially if they are photographers from a major magazine), you are sure as hell going to straighten up. Because of this, though, when we enter a person’s home through the lens of a magazine, we only get to see a portion of what makes their house a home.

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This is one of the reasons why the Australian photographer Martyn Thompson’s new book, Working Space, is so refreshing. As its title suggests, the volume is an ode to the creative workspace and the very idea of work—from its  traditional incarnation at the office or studio to more spiritual takes on the concept like meditation. The stunningly photographed images depicted within Working Space are interiors, but that is where the similarities to other shelter books end. Unlike the manicured, consciously styled settings that are typical of such books, these temples of creative energy are displayed in their purest, most uninhibited states; Thompson’s camera acts almost as a fly on the wall, documenting but not editing. Bookshelves overflow with cameras and creative accouterment, slop sinks spill over with paintbrushes and unwashed bowls. These spaces are made for use and they are very much in use at the time of documentation.

The objects we surround ourselves with—from the clothing we wear to the things we put in our homes—oftentimes act as external representations of who we are—communicative devices that project how we want to be seen by the world. These workspaces take this concept to the next level with Thompson’s photographic tableaus acting like portraits, telling us who the inhabitants are and how they work.

We hear so much about leisure these days—from finding time to shut down and unwind to building a nest away from the world—that we can oftentimes forget that work can be one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially when it is guided by passion. Loving the work that you do (and the final product of that work) goes hand-in-hand with loving life. From the photographs inside of Working Space, it seems that these people (from graphic designers to choreographers to barbers) love both.

Martyn Thompson took some time from his own work life to answer some questions about his book, his work, and his own working space. Continue after the jump for more photos and the full interview! —Max

GIVEAWAY: In addition to featuring photos from this gorgeous new book, we have the pleasure of being able to give away 2 copies! Tell us what your workspace says about you in the comments section for a chance to win! We’ll pick our favorites!

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Above image: The office of Thierry Dreyfus, a Paris-based lighting designer.

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Above image: Work surfaces within painter Brad Greenwood’s studio.

Work spaces, factories, and offices aren’t typical fare for interior photography books. What drew you to the idea of photographing creative workspaces? Was there anything you were setting out to accomplish or communicate through this project?I have always loved photographing creative spaces—my very first interior commision was photographing the estate of artist and critic Roland Penrose. Sadly, I’ve lost those pictures… I think there is so much to observe about people in the work environment—it’s full of clues to what they like and how they think.Throughout your career as a photographer, you’ve photographed fashion, homes, and now workspaces, all of which act as communicative markers of a person’s tastes and personality. What do you think separates workspaces from the former? Do you think they say something different about their owners than homes or the clothing that people choose to wear?Fashion, for me, is a reflection of how I want you to perceive me—my workspace is generally a reflection of what I’m thinking about. I think the home is a reflection of taste,but this is often a shared space—not just about the individual.The majority of the spaces depicted within the pages of Working Space aren’t “styled,” so to speak—they are meant to be functional, so are left relatively unadulterated, filled mainly with the accouterments of work and tools for inspiration. Do you think that this makes for a more honest portrayal of the space’s inhabitants?“Honest” is one of the words I like to use to describe this book. These stories are, for me, a return to my original way of photographing interiors—very immediate and more about the spirit and the details of a place than a floor to ceiling description. I didn’t rearrange or style these places – I wanted to capture the spirit of the occupant.

What do you think you have learned about the concept of work while creating this project?

That it is very important to do something that feeds and satisfies your soul. I tried to look at “work” in quite broad terms—that taking time to meditate or go horse riding is work—work that clears the mind is as important as work that fills the mind.

For the Working Space project, you said that you wanted to document the spaces of people who are passionate about their work. Have you made any observations about what separates these particular spaces from, say, those of people who are not passionate about work? Do you think that there is anything that can be learned from these spaces, things that can be applied to the notion of work in general? What are the lessons (if any) that one can learn from the pages of Working Space?

In Working Space, I’m not always looking at “work” as in how you earn your living—it’s work as in what turns you on—what you love doing. That’s where the passion comes in. I hope the book could encourage people to express themselves. We live in a world where we endlessly consume and don’t take enough time to create. Creation can be satisfying on so many levels—soothing and exciting. One of my personal mottos is “just…do it.”

A person’s work space can speak volumes about not just the work that they do, but their personality and their general level of personal organization. What is your workspace and work routine like? What do you think your work space says about you?

I have a live/work loft space. I’ve been there 10 years I am a funny combination of tidy and messy. My desk is generally impenetrable and when I’m working on a series of pictures I need to be surrounded by all the props and accoutrement that are involved. I don’t like to put things out of sight. But then I also need a tidy space (ie, the kitchen) to give me some sense of order. My work space is practical and functional—and it’s experimental and transitional—regularly changing depending on the current project. There’s a lot of cardboard and a lot of tape, tons of fabric, and paints and dyes and tools, etc… I think it says that I like craft!

I would imagine that finding your best “work space,” both physically and mentally can be a little bit like finding one’s own self—a long journey that can change and evolve throughout one’s life. How has your own concept of work and your workspace changed since the time you began your career until now? Are there any habits or objects that have stayed with you?

When I first started taking pictures in Sydney, I was lucky to have a studio space—it was somewhere I could play and experiment. Today, I have that same ability in the loft, but for nearly 20 intervening years I didn’t. Now, I’d never want to be without that—it’s more important than a comfortable home for me. Making things is what I spend most of my time doing! One thing that has changed is my ability to delegate. I’m a control freak, but I got to a delegate-or-die stage of life. It’s good to recognize your own limitations—as well as learning to trust. Now I thrive much more on the input of others .

Aside from the technological essentials for your own job, are there any items within your workspace that you consider personally essential? What items can you not work without?

For me, making an image is about building an environment—whether I am working for myself or a corporation I can’t do without some props! My pictures are about color and texture, creating a tactile space. I have one small table and a number of bits and pieces that I use repeatedly in my photos. Currently my studio is filled with fake flowers—all painted black!

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Above image: The Montmartre-based home/studio of ceramicist Annabel Adie.

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Above image: One of the few “traditional” offices within the book, this is the Sydney headquarters of Margaret Nolan’s graphic design company, The Collective.

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Above image: Another image from the office of lighting designer Thierry Dreyfus. Here, you can see the sketches that he draws directly onto his walls.

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Above image: the studio of fashion design team, Edward Meadham and Ben Kirchhoff, otherwise known as Meadham Kirchhoff.

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Above image: A photograph of the legendary photographer Cindy Sherman’s work space. Originally published in W magazine.

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Above image: The factory of E. R. Butler, a custom hardware manufacturer located in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

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Above image: The self portrait of Martyn Thompson, the photographer and author behind Working Space.

Kristen

My space says I live here primarily. I like to absorb information. There are stacks of books and magazines in every room. There is definite organization. Things grouped together. That way I can find what I need. I think it gives a small space a sense of harmony. It also says I value beauty. My prized books and quilts and yarn are front and center as decoration and inspiration. Nothing is really hidden away. It says I hate to sweep. I don’t take time to clean the floors after EVERY project. I’m more likely reading, sutton outside having some banana bread, planning my next project. But things don’t pile up. It shows that I like I clean space to begin a fresh project.

Ashley Johnson

My workspace definitely says “I need more space to work”, but more importantly that I love having my hands in multiple projects of different mediums at once. I am so fortunate to be able to dabble in many things, as I get bored easily, and strongly dislike doing the same thing over and over again. Ultimately that organized chaos breeds creativity and that I could possibly have multiple personalities ;)

Veronica

My works space tells my tale – that I TRY to stay organized, but things are always “fraying around the edges” and sneaking out of alignment! Healthy but unbalanced potted plants seem to reflect my love for nature, but that nature always expresses a mind of its own!

Anda Alexandra

My workspace is my center from where I rule the world :D Or that is at least how I joke with my awesome fiancee :) I have my bambus and my yellow rose and my movies and books next to me, in shelves – the workspace needs to be a place where you feel like home ;)

Faith

My workspace clearly says “I love messes!” I guess this is true…I like to clean my room, but it doesn’t stay that way for long! A clean room yells to me “make a mess in me!” and just like that, out comes my sewing machine…

gayle

My home is very clutter free but my studio is filled with books, art supplies, chairs and work space. I spend most of my day there with the dogs.

cheers,

Charlie

That is a pretty interesting idea for a book! My work space looks a lot like the photos provided and many of my friends and guests see it exactly as it lies. I have brushes, paint cans and various projects in unfinished stages scattered about. I enjoy cleaning it up on occasion and seeing their reaction to the organized state. I get a kick out of that.

Emily

My workspace is selectively organized: the desk I work at most of the time has color-coordinated post it notes and a giant calendar, but the desk where I work on architectural drawings is just piles and piles of papers.

LISA MAE

My space shouts that I lead with color. It’s a space dotted with natural fibers and wood. The natural is my warmth and grounding, the color is my voice.

Kristin

My workspace happens all over our home. I have an idea, I start to anticipate the amount of space that project will need, and then I stake my claim. Sometimes it’s the dining room table, sometimes it’s the living room floor – with all the furniture pushed to the walls, and sometimes it’s even vertical – tacked to the wall, so I can stand back and look.

I get the busiest before the holidays, and that’s when the house starts to look like an art studio – everyone tiptoes around the work, but no one complains. I love for my girls to see what I’m working on – what consumes me in the wee hours of the morning.

And when I’m done? The clean up feels good as well. Things shift back into place until the next project comes along.

The idea of this book makes me think about photographing the transformation of my own spaces before, during and after a project.

francine s.

my workspace is supposed to be just a desk and a pin board. unfortunately once i start working the creative process takes over–my whole apartment. i’m an organized mess and my workspaces is definitely representative of that.

Marlena

My workspace says “come on in, and let me help.” It also reflects my desire for organization, inspiration, and design.

Mandy

My workspace is my home, so I don’t have a spot that make it easy to produce professional work…which also indicates my current pay level. But that’s okay. Everyone has to start from somewhere. You just keep doing the best you can with what you have. :)

Lynn

My workspace is my flower shop. Messy, busy and full of seasonal blooms and items I have carefully chosen that I think others will like. People say it smells of the colour green so it is just as well I named it Moss.

jc carter

My space says that i need a bigger apartment. It’s shoved in a corner with pictures and notes to inspire me taped up on the two little walls with different colors. I use a chair borrowed from the kitchen that has to go back at dinner time. It allows me to be in the room with my love while he reads plays video games, or helps out. It works for us/me even though it is small.

Sarah-May

That I have the ‘Squirrel!’ Condition….I’m easily distracted, and I’m motivated to get busy with crazy creativity!:)

Elisa Bartels

My workspace is newly completed so it feels skeletal. Bare bones that will be padded out with the detritus of each new creative project. The trick is not to force its creation but be patient with its evolution.

MPH

Ha! My workplace have so much to say but there’s no time to organize them into coherent thoughts. What it doesn’t tell you is that “Shits get done” because those things get to leave the room.

Rian Lougheed-Smith

My workspace, or rather the space that most consistently holds my bits and bobs, is my rusty old red junk bucket of a truck. I live in Dawson City, in the Yukon Territory, Canada. My truck is affectionately named Edith after the aging Mlle. Piaf whose cassette tape was my only accompaniment on my first 7 hour trek through radioless terrain to the nearest city. A true Yukon beast this truck holds my woolies, my bear spray, my chainsaw, silkscreening supplies, glitter, inks, favourite worn out pencils, found rocks, feathers, and layer upon layer of my dogs hair. Pins and little art pieces adorn the visors, the dash is littered with pebbles, and an antler that keeps a recent magazine published by a friend of mine of Dawson City lady artists from blowing away in the wind. I am building a house with my partner, and we live in a wall tent under the northern lights without road access, a canoe over the Klondike away from where we park our vehicles. Edith not only takes me to and fro, but holds everything I forget I need, from shampoo to wood carving tools, and lets me work when where I can, whenever I want to.

Aimee O

My workspace says that I’m always planning and thinking about future projects. I usually have a million sticky notes of ideas or things to do next, and almost finished projects laying around. It can be a little chaotic to an observer but I usually can reach in and find whatever I need. I think most of all it shows my passion for creating and crafting. Sometimes my projects grow off of each other. It’s such a bright happy space too!

beth

My workspace says I love fabric and yarn, travel and nature. It says I am now taking my creating more seriously than ever before because I actually HAVE my own workspace now instead of having work spread all over the dining room table.

Katie

My workspace says that while I may be a total type-A veterinarian with stacks of textbooks, I need to have art and a creative outlet to keep me passionate and motivated. Anatomy books and journals surround the laptop on my sunny kitchen table, while my own screenprints and paintings serve as encouragement and brain food. Outside, my box turtle trundles around with a helium balloon tied to her shell so I can see where she wanders.

Kat Hokins

I am a graphic designer in DC and my workspace is my own form of organized chaos. It looks like random piles of colors, patterns, books and art but it is beautiful and it is where I am the happiest. It reminds me that you can find inspiration anywhere and from anything…

You never know when your next project may start.

Hillary

My workspace is organized, but always covered with a fine dusting of flour. I’m a baker and am trained to keep my workspace neat, but there is always a little bit of chaos surrounding me. A little bit of chaos can sometimes fuel and spark creativity, no?!

Jessica S.

My personal workspace says a few things…

* Sometimes, it begs…even SCREAMS…for attention. I have a big, hunking piece of blank wallspace that’s right behind my computer area — which cries out for a beautiful piece of artwork. I tend to create my own artwork; and I’d actually started a piece for that spot…but I still haven’t finished it. In summary, this can be viewed as a metaphor, for my (sometimes) disorganized workflow.

* My workspace also says, “The person who created me is someone who loves beautifully classic objects, and interesting curiosities. One of my most-prized furniture pieces in my entire home is my “Faulkner Library Cabinet” from Crate & Barrel — which is located in my workspace. Inside of this I store my entire book collection, trinkets from world travels (such as some cool “Dias de Muertos” artwork that I found on a recent trip to Cozumel), and family heirlooms. With my walls that are painted a pale and cool shade of blue, and the dark stain of my library cabinet and desk, the space tells people that it’s an area that’s designated for things that are considered dear.

* Lastly, and most importantly… My workspace instantly tells visitors that its owner is a person who is driven by creativity. How does it say this, you might ask? Well… It has a lot to do with not being a proper “workspace” at all! Originally, it was designed to be the “dining room” in my home. But, the minute that I moved into my house, I saw its potential for a completely different purpose.

Jenny

My workspace is a mean multitasker. It is our dining room, our homework zone, our lego construction site, our Christmas cookie laboratory and when no one else is around . . .my sanctuary and my studio. It says my life is full and these moments are fleeting so love where you are and what you have.

Gillianne

My workspace, a home office, says I’m in transition from years of yard sales make-dos to an attempt actually to pull it all together into something pleasing to me and functional. (Just brought home a new-to-me craigslist desk chair today, yeah.) It also says loudly that this house has no place to put the vacuum cleaner! Sadly, it lives in here, keeping my sewing machine company. Fresh paint, new curtains, and switching a rug with one now in storage should do it. Once I catch up on sorting through the piles of papers evverywhere, of course.

jillian

my work space says “BUSY” and organized :) i love it. xo jillian

Gwen

My work space says that while aesthetics are important to me, work is more important because I’m too busy for things to be tidy:)

Meredith

mine says a little disheveled, but also a little OCD! dangerous combo!

Andrea

My space intimates that a hurricane may have hit not too long ago, and I’m too busy writing about it to clean up.

Vicki

My work space says that I’m creative and going in a dozen differnt directions at one.
On any given day you will find artwork,bright colors , and chocolate:)

Camilla

I am lazy and like to lounge and read and sit in my chair while the sun comes through. I hate sitting at a desk and working, my own desk is covered in a fine layer of dust. It has stacks of design books, architecture magazines, floor plans, elevations I’m working on, books I’m reading. It is an unorganised dumping ground for whatever has taken my interest at the time. And then I have a plush white chair, and a fluffy rug for lying on. Everything else is dumped in a disorganised manner that makes it impossible to loose track. And the whole thing is stained in circular mugs marks from tea.

virginia

when i first photographed my work space, i fussed over the placement of my pine cones and my sea shells and my fossils. i placed the artwork i’d framed at a pleasing height, and i’ve kept it there, so all that careful consideration over scale and visual flow paid off. however, it turned out keeping those vignettes looking “just so” took too much effort, and i wasn’t getting any real work done. two walls still feature framed pencil and charcoal drawings, but the picture glass is now covered with notes and sketches. i got rid of my vintage rattan couch, replaced it with shelves and work tables and decided a spot in front of the window was perfect for light and inspiration – i bought new table legs for my maple top, and created a U-shape work station that separated my sewing machine from my computer and printer station. my thread is now out in the open after i sourced shallow shelves spotted on one of your house tours, and i organized all my fabric printing inks and silks to be visible and accessible. my cutting mat, scissors, jewelry tools, beads and razor blades are always out, and i can easily scoot between boxes and bins of paper and fabric, to my shelves of design and art books. i dragged a counter height table in from the garage for cutting fabric, and now i want a wall-hung ironing board. a stranger would wonder why i have a space stocked with all these unrelated elements, but an artist wouldn’t…

M i MA

My workspace is like a paper plotting pad. When the sheet is fully scribbled, I tear it off and start again.

Carol

my office is compartmentalized with my different passions: a packed closet shows my love for style, my desk is covered with my laptop and assortment of papers and post it notes demonstrating my management skills, my book shelves are lined with design magazines and books for my passion for print, a drawer holds paints and papers showcasing my love for watercolour and finally bins of yarn as I am working on my own shop for knitted pieces.

Kelsey

You can tell I’m determined and creative— my workspace is certainly makeshift, only revealed when I lift my mattress up after making the bed. My mattress rests on slats placed on top of a desk and an antique-styled heater I store my clothes in. I can then place my desktop, a sheet of plywood I have painted, above these. It is the largest desk I have ever had, and in the afternoons golden light streams in the windows, making my coffee look like it has been sent from the heavens. I am a student living in one of those tiny apartments in NYC, and am grateful for every moment.

jessicac

I make a huge mess on our dining room table.. for days. Then its all clean and perfect for a few days. Then the mess starts again. I love being able to see my works in progress…. and let them marinate a bit.. will have my own workspace someday!

Kim

My work space says this girl needs help organizing. It says give this girl some klonopin so she can sit down and focus on one project at a time and not feel scatter brained. It says she lets her kids play around her when she’s working (so don’t trip over the toys). It says she loves vintage, loves style, loves design and loves to create. But just watch out so you don’t trip over the toys.

Christine

My workspace is thanking me for relocating it to the foggy West Coast, away from the bitterly cold Minninsists rather. Since I insist on opening all the windows during working hours, papers are usually fluttering around, creating even more havoc in a chaotic space. Residing and designing in a National Seashore is an incredibly special opportunity, and all attempts are made to bring the outside in. It’s preferable that the ranch’s bobcat stays outside. I can’t imagine he’d be much help in the studio.

Katherine

My workspace is covered in papers, random little cute things, toys and action figures. It’s a mess, basically, but I can never find anything if I organize! There’s a Spiderman lunchbox, Loki action figures… and oh, a LOT of koalas!

Anna

I recently moved to New Orleans to study Historic Preservation and this city is my work space. The culture, history and architecture influence me to study, design and research. I am consistently taking notes and pictures everywhere I go.

oasentier

My workspace says at the moment: “Wohoooo, let us do some new sunny, sparkling, fine, fresh illustrations! And by the way, clean me up…” ;-)

Greetings from Germany…

Lisa

My work space says come in and look..I dare you. It’s full of color and things I have come to treasure when I’m in the midst of creating and escaping life.

Amanda

I love these scattered workspaces, they remind me of my sewing studio at home. It is always in a state of clutter, and though I feel like I should make some sort of effort to keep it organized, deep down I know that organization would hinder my creativity. I love that I can walk in there after a stressful day in the “real world” (i.e. office job) and get back to my projects right where I left them the day before.

Patricia Stange

My workspace is my oasis. Besides having a large table that I use for a desk, it has a triple size closet, bookcases, large calming prints on the walls, a futon for napping, a small deck (it’s on the second story of my house), a bathroom and tiny kitchenette, my PC and printer/scanner, a sewing machine, a flat screen TV, and storage for all my crafts and hobbies such as photography, crocheting, scrapbooking, and my collection of vintage Saint Patrick’s Day postcards. The only thing missing is a photo studio for my newest interest, baby photography.

virginia

I am afraid of what mine says about me! Messy, hoarding, scatterbrain?? Hmm My space is in our second bedroom of our small house, so I share with all the other house things that there isn’t room for. My table overflows, there is rarely any surface space. I think this says I am overly optimistic and have an abundance of creative ideas. I think it also says I am a bit delusional. :)

Mary Kaiser

I dreamed my workspace, when my children were young and we lived in a tiny house. When we moved to a two-story house, I claimed a room with tall windows that look out over the woods, just as I once dreamed, and I lined my room with low bookshelves. Art books, special children’s books, and poetry fill the shelves. On the opposite wall, above my sewing area, is a vibrant vintage quilt made of dress fabrics from the 1930’s, colors and patterns that inspire my retro fashion sense. A spinning wheel and baskets of yarn complete the circuit around my little studio. On my inspiration board, I always pin the little sketch I made years ago of my dream space, to remind me that dreams can come true.

mahasitha

I’m freelance illustrator and mother of little girl, so my working space is a part of our tiny apartment. My husband’s hobby is film photography and he has a collection of an old cameras witch grows from time to time. So our working space tells that we are HAPPY crazy artists, who love flee markets and bookstores, and strange parents, who let there 2 years child to draw on the walls :-)

Soledad

It says that I can be a mess, but always contained. All the mess is on the shelves and table but never on the floor. It also says that I need flexibility, I have to be able to change my mind – adjustable shelving and table heights. And now in the new space where I’ll be moving this weekend, it will make very clear I also like to chill-out: We’ll have a hammock!! Yay!

Rosalyn

My workspace says that I am always “buzzing” like a productive bee, my hive is full of the many ways that I embrace my love of fiber. Here you will find my sewing machine, and fabric in beautiful woven baskets. On the wall are stored my hand looms with yarn
awaiting my finishing touches. I also collect the instruments of my work, so there are
hand carved spindles, a yarn winder that is an antique from Japan and the many manikins in bits of fluff and finery. I have a beautiful view of the river outside my home reminding me to “stay in the flow” and let my creativity express itself, oh and of course my books, love my books . I feel that books are the finishing touches of every room.

Jill

My workspace says I have all the tools/boxes/containers to be organized…I just need to spend more time actually organizing!

gogothrift@etsy.com

My work space says that no matter how much space I have I will fill it . I am a hoarder of textiles, books,bibs and bobs. I can’t stand being so messy but can’t be any other way.

Elizabeth W.

First of all, you need to choose the lady (Rian) who travels and lives in the Yukon Territory, who lives in a tent with her partner while her house is being built, a copy of this book. I can’t imagine anyone more dedicated to a creative life than that!

Now on to my workspace. It says that since my 60th year (4 year ago) I have found my way back to my dreams of youth. I have said a ‘thank you, and bye-bye’ to my north corner dining room, and the process of creating my work space out of this room has been one of my most joyful and wonderful creative processes. I can flutter from designing cards to planning a nature collage, to making a glorious mess with paint and canvas–or paper—or wood—or whatever. You can peek into this room from the front door, with my artwork on the walls, a comfy loveseat with bright pillows, refurbished cabinets, design books, magazines, in-progress projects and finished ones. It is a place of joy and draws me in as I go about my day. (I still work part-time in my home doing Reflexology and Massage). My room speaks of ‘coming home’ to my true and complete self, and I love it.

Tonpia

My working space is mobile and wherever it lands, it’s not fussy. I’m a freelance editor and a stay at home mom so my space travels from room to room, depending on what the project is and where my children are. Some days the space follows the children, some days it runs away from them.

Ailsa

My workspace says: ‘Oh God, it’s true. The company I work for really is going to close at the end of the year. As everybody else has left, I’m doing the work of four, so organising book proofs is not possible and therefore I might meet my demise under a ten-foot tower of paper. Who would find me?! Would anybody care? What I really need to cheer me up is a beautiful book about the spaces of wonderfully creative people. This would hopefully inspire me to get my finger out and figure out what on earth I’m going to do with the rest of my life….’
[This is an unashamed cri de coeur but all true!]

Ally

My workspace says that I like to work way ahead and that I don’t let little things like aesthetics get in the way in the meantime!

Laura

My workspaces says “Workspace? What workspace?”.Work happens where my life happens. It’s not uncommon to see a half sorted pile of laundry next to my half stretched canvases. While everything looks like a hot mess, there is order amongst the chaos, I swear! I had a separate studio space for a while and found my work wasn’t as interesting and I also felt like I got less done because things weren’t always staring at me screaming “Finish me!” I know it’s said that multi-tasking can often be less productive than finishing one task at a time but switching things up helps me prevent things from going stale! Thanks for the chance!

Jen

The space in which I work is populated with past obsessions, present concerns, and dreams. The walls are covered with art from friends, maps of medieval Europe and photographs of Cold War events (I was trained as a medieval historian; now, I am writing about the Cold War in the U.S.) There are piles of magazines and photographs. A sewing machine tucked in the corner to inspire me to make that quilt I have always wanted. Oh yes, and the armchair I inherited from my grandmother where I curl up to read and think. It is, above all, comfortable — for me.

Leslie

My workspace is in transition, but even when it was all mine, crammed into a part of my living room, it said that I am willing to do what it takes to make my ideas happen. My bench was never high enough, so I made my chair lower. So many tools repurposed from other hobbies and the hardware store became fine jeweler’s tools. Artists have to be resourceful, whether they have money or not. Now I’m sharing space in a 74-year-old carpenter’s woodshop, and I get to be part of somebody else’s creative visions, as well as my own. That says I like collaboration, and history. When I have doubts, just looking at what I have reminds me of what my purpose is. I make do. I make. And something beautiful comes out of nothing, and that’s why I do it.

W Stark

My workspace says I’m a creative, inventive, thrifty, mom. It says that process matters and you should trust it. It says happy accidents are the spice of life…and it literally says “we may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” Happy creating!

Rachael

My workspace says I need either more time and/or space! Living in the dorms as a college student, you can really be tight in space. Plus, with so much going on as well, it’s hard to sit down and make sense of this “organized mess”, as I would call it. My workspace screams youth, almost lost, in the sense I am halfway around the world in this unknown place. I keep my candle scent that reminds me of home. Teared notebook sheets scatter my desk, with doodles and sketches from my design classes I am taking. Plus, not to mention the storage of instant noodles underneath my desk! It’s a mess, but it’s my own space and screams of my journey to professionalism.

Mandy

Upon entering someone’s personal dwelling for the first time, one may snoop through their medicine cabinet or peek into their refrigerator – both spaces mythically exalted to embody one’s inner-workings or show a glimmer of their personality. I say, take a sneak peek into one’s workspace to gain insight. For, my workspace is me, in my most raw and naked state. It exposes all of the inquiries I hold inside and the rabbit trails down which I have traversed. It tells a story of the past, present and near future through bits and pieces of process as well as works completed. It holds my sacred collections. It completes me and my home and is where I feel truly at ease to be myself.

Sara

I have two jobs – being a mom and owning a small, brick and mortar shop. Both my home workspace and my ‘work’ workspace depict a place that has great design elements: Kelly Wurstler wallpaper, tackable wall surfaces, some of my most favorite vintage treasures, as well as ephemera from here and there, but they are both SUCH a mess! I can’t seem to find the time to clean them up! It is a bit of organized chaos and straight old chaos! At some point, they’ll get cleaned up and really be the inspiring places I see in my mind.

mindy

I am a metalsmith and create jewelry and other objects…….I also dabble in paper projects, painting, sewing and knitting….so my workspaces are varied and essentially flow throughout the house……there is an eclectic and cluttered essence in my workspace , tools and work stations……..journals with future sketches of things yet to make, inspiring photographs of the work I love of others…. a wall of stones and beads I have collected for 25 years……..books, magazines………and my little table where all the creations manifest….It amazes me what is created from all the little things I have brought into my life……it pleases my soul……I guess I have created a sanctuary where my truest self can be free……….. to explore my destiny!

Jasmine

Wow! What a brilliant idea to showcase normal everyday workspace! This post feels especially relevant as today, when I awoke, the first thing I thought was, “geez our house looks so messy, ugh!” Literally. Why do we beat ourselves up for a little undone normalcy?? Manicured and done is so pretty, but there is much to be said for comfortable and inviting. Have you ever been to Paris and noticed everyone is stylish without being perfect? I really appreciate that ideology. Make an effort to put your best foot forward every day and then… let it go and just live! Style zen, I guess :)

To answer the question, what my work space says about me is…. “looks like she’s organized, varied and just a wee bit behind schedule” :)

Thank you for all your great work on the blog!

Tina

My tiny corner in the garage tells me to start again. The half open boxes say to create again, to pack up the pains of fear and of loss and kick them to the curb. Sketchbooks are slowly creeping out and color is finding it’s way back. The sewing machine is showing me stitch by stitch the path back to wholeness. The small worktable slowly teaching me yet again that the passion to create is something beyond me. Something that cannot die and for this I am forever grateful.

riye

Mine says book loving “clean freak”. In one of my studio art classes I won for cleanest toolbox. Not kidding. I make a mess while I’m working on things but I always clean up before going to bed. I have a very small studio apartment and it can get over run with clutter really fast. Sometimes when I’m stuck on a project I clear everything away, take a break, and then start up again. I guess that’s my version of starting with a clean palette. :-)

Cia

My workspace is spread out throughout the house LOL I’ve been trying to create a workspace solely for artistic purposes. Right now my workspace says I am highly disorganized.

Pauline

As part of the creative race
My space is very clearly a ‘work space’
With pencils and photos and books that inspire
This is the reason that book we desire

Sue

I have a couple work spaces at home but my favorite one is my small portable art bag with pencils, pens, travel watercolor paints and paper that let me go on a mini-adventure anywhere around Seattle to draw and paint.

Frank Walker

My workspace /studio. Saying it’s a studio somehow gives my garage space that air of sophistication. But it is still a one car garage that is my painting/ ceramics studio.
I have all the household stuff in there, tools, old paint and lawn gear. But the biggest part of the space is my potters wheel, work bench and two kilns. It’s a dusty,dirty place to be creative and it is all mine.
I rock the place with oldies on the radio, open the garage door and do my thing.

barbara

My work space is the living room and dining room of the home, slightly divided by folding shutter/screens that my hubby and I built. There are several overflowing bookcases and tall stacks of books all around, on chairs and by other chairs that we can actually sit in. There are two worktables, one for sitting and reading or sketching for the Mr. and a larger one for me to work at while standing, which I prefer. There are always 2 or 3 projects ongoing with paints and collage stuff strung about. We leave everything out so we can just walk in and work on stuff as we pass by. It gets pretty messy, and once in awhile I take time to re-organize it so we can start over messing it up again. Our living space is beyond that room, a kitchen and great room/family room, which we keep very tidy most all the time.

Jenny

I just started my own business and can’t afford a proper office yet. Therefore, my work space is pretty much my bed. When sleeping, I always keep a note pad next to me just in case I wake up and have the bestest of ideas. When awake, my work space is in a café or at the kitchen table, or the floor. What this says about me? Well, that I’m broke, easy to please ergonomically, that I like a good cup of coffee and that I work where I sit. All the time. And oh, how I love it.

amy

I’d say my office is my workspace, but the fact that the only vaguely personal touches in it are a ficus lyrata and a binder clip sculpture really says quite a bit about my relationship with my ‘real’ job. The kitchen, though, is all mine. It’s usually cluttered with half-done projects, dishes that my husband has left ‘soaking’ in the sink, and scraps of grocery lists and recipe ideas for my blog. It’s been a lot better since I started making a conscious effort to clean up after myself and keep a rag available at all times (and put it to use!)

Amanda

My workspace says, “I work from home, but I dream of bigger things. I love colorcoding and organizing and combining living and working in the same space requires both”

Lucie

I think my workspace represents organization and thoughtfulness but also “under construction”. I tend to pick objects that go together with a certain aesthetic – simple, sometimes rustic or vintage, sometimes modern. However, I live in a not so ideal way. As a college student, I live in a single room in the basement whereas I want to be designing/decorating entire rooms!

Denny

My work space is noth messy and clean. From across the room, it’s messy and cluttered. Up close, the “nitty gritty” space is clear, organized, and efficient.

Roen

Hold on….I’m still looking for it….. there it is. A storage space within a tiny space of an owner trying to be a minimalist in a badly designed space of too many doors in the wrong places. Sigh, downsizing ain’t easy in a badly designed space.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Oonagh O'Dwyer

Overlooking Irish fields, the Cliffs of Moher in the distance, and trees rustling in the wind, my eco-tourism business, conducted from my wild office, full of quote’s, photographs of my smiling children,and bits and bobs that shape my life.
In the west of Ireland.

Jessica Cremers

My workspace is everywhere. Literally. I am a young professional with little room in my apartment so I love to make my workspace everywhere but my living space. It works for me!

kate o.

my workspace is vaguely like a hoarders hideout, with just a hint of cohesion. there is a lot of light from my windows, and my hardwood floors serve as both work area and place to sit and take a break. the walls are covered in pin boards, and in the corner sits my trusty secretary desk, if i feel the urge to pen a letter or take a minute and read.

Christa Avampato

My workspace says, “This is a place of freedom, a place where you can dream, do, and be. This is a place that never discounts its ideas, nor its creativity. It is a space that lives, breathes, and empowers.”

Sarah

i live with 3 guys (husband and 2 sons), and i have to be organized for all 4 of us. basically, it’s a living, breathing space that requires vigilance to keep it from becoming a scary place. i think i’ve got my system down. at least for today…

Betsy Lewis

My work (and live) space is a modest 450 sq ft apartment on the 5th floor of a historic high-rise in rainy, quirky, PC (politically correct) Portland, Oregon. It’s Friday, 6:15 pm. TGIF. I have just consumed a hearty dinner, prepared in a compact kitchen a few short steps from the couch — where I am now laying, feeling replete and grateful that it is the end of my work week. This is, of course, only my fantasy. I am a freelance consultant, and I know that early Saturday am I will cross another few short steps from my bed to my ball chair/computer and be back at work.

The best thing about my work (live) space is that it is surrounded, on its two longest sides, by large picture windows, and when I lift my eyes up from my computer screen, I can view the bridges for which Portland is famous, the snow clad peaks of Mount St. Helen and Mt Hood — and the rush hour traffic from which I have been spared. From every part of my tiny space the sun rises and sets, weather rolls in, dark and angry skies turn clear and blue and then back again, lightning strikes, and the city lights twinkle on and on until dawn. When I see planes taking off, I imagine that one day I too will set out on a worldly adventure. Sometimes my workspace holds me close and cosy for days, when the world outside becomes engulfed in a gray fog and mist. Just as frequently, the light outside my windows is so crisp and brilliant that I feel like I am hanging off the side of a cliff.

What it comes down to is this — although I am firmly planted in a little cubby hole on the side of a building in the confines of my workspace — I live my life outside of my windows.

Andrea Stoeckel

My workspace is a simple desk where my sewing machine sits, and a small cabinet I dragged in from the curb in a bloody rainstorm. Since we are apartment renters, we make do. It’s enough

Anne

My work space is a ten second commute from my bed: a repurposed small spare bedroom in my house in Toronto. It’s painted sunny, optimistic yellow with bright white trim.

Primarily it functions as my millinery studio. In this mode, the round table in the centre (refinished my multi-talented late grandmother) is covered with a jolly dollar-store table cloth and fabric, scissors, beads, blocks, books, order forms, small power tools, wire, the occasional cat, sketchbook, etc. The floor is covered with detritus. The faster I work and the harder I think, the bigger the mess.

Fortunately, the small room cleans up fast, to become my showroom where I meet with clients. The first thing anyone invariably says when they see it is “Oh, wow!” The impact comes from the east wall, which is covered with second-hand Ikea Billy bookcases filled with hats and hat blocks, topped with fairy lights. The bookcases have seasonal fabric cupboards on the bottom I thought up (with thanks to the awesome Neil at Rona) with fold-down doors (“Use piano hinges,” spake Neil, and it was so).

I have grid walls on the north wall also filled with hats, and a holster I made for scissors and rulers, against which is my sewing machine on a rolling rack, and rolling racks for patterns and materials. My beautiful quarter-sawn oak desk is against the west wall, with my computer and “inspiration board” (a.k.a. hold-all bulletin board) above it. My pride and joy is an antique wardrobe with beveled mirrors and delicate wood inlays which was a special gift from my life partner, Scott. I stained a smaller Ikea shelf to match to put inside, and now it holds my office and drafting supplies and more millinery materials, and another bulletin board with pictures of children in India dressed as tiny Ghandis (an annual birthday celebration) and the Grinch rendered in guacamole.

The one window in my hat room overlooks a school yard which is filled with the kids’ life and laughter at recesses and lunch, and a neighbourhood hub the rest of the time. Squirrels and baby racoons visit me on the roof of a living room addition right outside. (There’s a grey squirrel out there right now.) The window excels for backyard bird-watching of perennial cardinals and blue jays, and migrant songbirds in the spring and fall.

The window is also the light source for my tabletop photo shoot set-up, made quickly with one of Scott’s microphone stands, a paper backdrop clothes-pinned to it and using feather-filled plastic salad containers as risers for the papier-mache’d Styrofoam heads on which I photograph my hats, caps and fascinators.

After spending almost twelve years in a dark basement apartment, I feared my pineal gland might never forgive me. My yellow hat room in the sky, in my happy house full of Scott, me and two cats, has made up for all that. What my hat room says about me is “Creative work, daydreaming and gratitude done here.”

Shania LeClaire Riviere

My space is a tiny room on the third floor of a bed & breakfast, overlooking Provincetown, MA. In fact the view actually takes in the entire bay reaching miles out to sea. It’s literally 12×12 and yet some how it has allowed me just enough space to create my art over the years.

The walls are covered in pages of photographs I have printed from my tumblr collection, which give me a grid of pictures for inspiration at a glance. Under my loft bed (a tiny twin bed) I keep my vintage clothes (including furs, dresses, scarfs and platforms) for my performance art. A brand new sewing machine (still in the box), a collection of cameras, a travel lighting studio, industrial supplies for creating costumes and a few tote bags for travel to the beach or abroad.

On my oversized desk, a white milk glass goblet holds a collection of seashells from the bay and sits next to a tiny vase that hold fresh flower to keep me in tune with nature. My laptop also resides there on the same desk in front of old paintings of fishermen depicting the way life was. I have a giant pile of books to be read against the wall and a sitting on top and completing the tower is a statue of Ganesha to keep all obstacles away.

I keep the one window to my right covered in thin white shear curtains to bring in natural light and keep the walls covered in old mirrored window frames creating the illusion that the room is much bigger than it really is.

Above my desk hangs three wall shelfs covered in more books, makeup, wigs and a collection of rather large feather false eye lashes that blow in the after noon air. I try not to keep them to close to Henry, my taxidermied rooster, it makes him nervous.

I have one small floor book shelf holding charcoals, pens, water colors and an assortment of art papers and it keeps my easel company, which is also folded into its travel size and sits on the floor. Near the door hangs an assortment of flannels for evening walks and to the right a few clear bags of newly started knitting projects.

Four years later, the most amazing art has come from that room. Movie shorts have been created and written. Paintings and drawings created. Performance art worn and stored. Photographs have been taken and somewhere in between creative recharging there was and still is lots of meditation.

Karyn S.

I fully agree with Elizabeth W. that Rian should be one of your winners.

My space is small and embraces me with memories of the past (my own childhood toy Singer as well as the one on which my mother made my wardrobe and my wedding gown), and signs of future creative potential. It says that I am a fiber artist who loves color, texture; knitting, sewing, and weaving. The space reflects my passion for Native American art & vintage luggage. It is a collage of almost too many wonderful things which each have stories to tell. My space is constantly evolving within its small confines, and I love the inspirational hugs it gives me each time I enter it.

Frances

COLOUR… my workspace celebrates colour; with glass kilner jars of artists’ pigments and pots of Cornish clay and well-worn brushes nestling against eclectic images of inspirational interiors and colour trends. My workspace may be in a modern, industrial building, but it makes me feel like an alchemist from days gone by. My workspace might be in rural isolation, but it feels vibrant and connected to the world. My workspace is where I mix, create and discover new colours in the hope that they will one day grace someone’s walls and make them happy. My workspace is always bright. When I turn the light on and the music up, my workspace is a great place to be.

Sarah

My home work space clearly states that my priorities lie elsewhere. We’ve lived in our house for a year now, and I still haven’t set it up yet. I’ve been too busy painting and decorating the rest of the house!

Kat

My workspace is a perfect metaphor for the thousands of thoughts racing through my head at any moment. Items, however vague their commonalities, are meticulously placed in their locations with the specific purpose of making life easier or more beautiful. My entire personality can be read through the variety of thrift findings, found art, projects in progress and light dancing off walls through mirrors. But throughout all the chaos, I find peace and inspiration.

Sam Solis

My workspace says, “you can do anything you want to do.” It contains piles of magazines and books. Calligraphy tools and ink take up some room and craft projects, some done and some not take up the rest. I love sitting here thinking of what I want to tackle next and with my space, I know it can happen.

Amy Glass

Would love to flip through this book. My workspace says that I am a very visual person. Everything is in sight on open shelves (I have one drawer and am constantly forgetting that it exists and lose things in there!) That also means that everything is a bit of a mess, but I can always seem to find what I am looking for.

Lilli

My work space reflects my potential, not that I have a lot of potential, but that my work space has potential, all the elements of something really great are there, there are tiny corners and little bowls for creativity to hide in and colour and spaces to function, but it is not yet ideal, not yet fully formed or fully functional, like me it has not yet filled out into its full potential, I think that my work space and I will rise to our prime at about the same time, we will each conjure each other into potent and brilliant creative things.

Hiren

Nice one i have my own library in my home and i spend my lot of free time. reading is my hobby and passion. In work space there are not much place so i have created in my home.

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