As musicians or artists, we’ve all felt a feeling of longing to be able to fulfil our wish-list of equipment, productivity tools and furniture to create our ideal home studio at whatever the cost. More than ever we are looking through the window into other peoples homes, lifestyles and practices, and making impairing reference to our own lives.
There’s an intimidating amount of articles online detailing Home Studio Essentials, The Top 10 Hardware Synthesisers You Need Right Now!!, 14 Ways To Increase Productivity At Home, but I really believe there’s a more important elementary holistic process to go through before the practical advice in these becomes easy to separate, and potentially ignore. In this article I want to challenge the perception that somebody else is going to be able to tell you how to approach creativity at home and influence the mechanics of the space in which you do so. It’s likely you’ve already got everything you need.
Let’s look at the terminology. Almost all definitions of a studio suggest that it’s a separate room designed for work and creative practice. For many of us, I’m certain a dedicated environment is an opulent and unachievable goal, and through time various spaces in our homes have had to sustain multi-disciplinary activities; to this day my kitchen table functions as the production suite.
During your studies, you’re likely to come across or have encountered already the structure of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which details a five tier model of human needs, from physiological up to self-actualised. Some of the basic and physiological needs (including food, water, warmth, security, resources etc.) may seem self-evident to talk about, but I think it’s important to reinforce their place when it comes to supporting and sustaining creativity. They strengthen the importance of home in the term ‘home studio’, that it’s an adaptable space and that your creative endeavours are going to be built on solid foundations.
Firstly, I think it’s fundamental we become comfortable with both the present and future function of a home studio. Try and transport yourself to where you might be in a few years times based on the opportunities you see opening up for you, or where you’d hope to be. If you see the bulk of your work being realised in recording and rehearsal facilities, then you may want to consider the focus of your space to be a source of inspiration and a place to explore new ideas, of which you’ll then continue in external environments. Is there anything you can change about your current set up to support changes in the future? Unused equipment…unused space?
For me, the primary function of my creative space is to be able to very quickly explore ideas. Minimal waiting, loading, patching….whether that’s to satisfy capturing ideas with immediacy, or squeezing creative time around other demands of home life.
This is a very personal list you’re going to make, and not one I’m looking to influence and the items within it. The purpose of asking yourself this is just to distinguish between wants and needs. If I spend enough time looking at Instagram of a day, I guarantee I can convince myself I need a certain pair of monitors, or a valve pre-amp…but honestly, for me…the bulk of my work has never deviated outside of laptop, interface and speakers….and I really intend to keep it that way. It promotes flexibility and mobility in my set-up which is what I need in my adaptable creative space. Make sure you have a firm grasp on what is essential, and that it’s not dictated by others.
Further from the basic and physiological needs I referenced earlier, there’s some important factors to consider to help us sustain creativity at home.
Firstly, separating your environments is worth considering. If you’re able to make space to be creative and work outside of your bedroom, I hugely recommend it. In my experience, associating my bedroom with work and productivity only served to effect my quality of sleep and sleeping patterns, and when you start to go down this road this will start to effect the quality of your work, which further reinforces meeting those basic needs.
Secondly, take a moment to consider the visual stimulus in your creative environment, these being items from which you draw inspiration or motivation. How does your current environment make you feel? Is there anything you could change that would empower you to feel more creative? For me, it’s just natural light and sitting close to a window that aids that process. In the past I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a Brighton sea view in my home creative space while writing music, but at the moment the view from my space is north facing, and watching the incoming weather roll off the South Downs and over the city is a really exciting a new source of inspiration.
It’s a minefield out there. Stay focused on your personal journey through it. Try and make purchasing decisions objectively, not subjectively. Sitting with these thoughts an ideas, you’ll likely build a heightened appreciation for your current set-up, and explore the different applications it can offer.
As a final thought, I see many artists becoming increasingly more aware of the environmental impact of their work. If you’re looking to further the conversation in this article, maybe ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to meet the requirements of the environmentally conscious artist we should all be aiming to be. Some very simple first steps could be considering how to save energy, buying second hand equipment and furniture, and sharing equipment for recording purposes in
For more advice in setting up your own home studio get in touch.