Header image by John Dunbar Kilburn.

Our creative environments shape us, no questions asked. Whether our bedrooms, offices, studios, or balconies, the spaces we spend time in shape our thinking, our attitudes, and our work ethic. But too often, we ignore those spaces. We keep our heads down, focus in rather than out, and get lost in routine (get up, go to work, go home, dump bag and coat on floor, kick off shoes, make noodles, curl up on sofa, Netflix till asleep, wake up, do it again.) We barely make time to de-clutter (much less notice) our living and working space.

This is what we take for granted: healthy space is good for creativity, full stop.

Why?

Here are 3 brilliant reasons to pay close attention and appreciate your surroundings (and three Zealous artists who know exactly why).

1. Creativity Begets Creativity

First and foremost, you reap what you sow. Your creative self is a fine-tuned machine (albeit a finicky, anxious, and sometimes stubborn and/or combustible one). It needs tending to! Whether hanging another artist’s prints in your kitchen, a painting in your recording studio, listening to music while you paint, or thumbing through graphic novels over lunch, exposure to others’ art enhances out-of-the-box thinking and our best creative selves.

John Dunbar Kilburn

John Dunbar Kilburn, an illustrator, designer, printmaker and bookmaker, shares a studio with his girlfriend Lucy Kerr (also an illustrator) in St Germans, Cornwall. He is director of Atlantic Press Books, collaborates with other Studio Dribbly artists, and works on the production of artzine Tiny Pencil.

  • A Creative Environment
  • A Creative Environment
  • A Creative Environment
  • A Creative Environment

“We find inspiration from the things that we find, make and discover. Our shelves are full of books, zines, toys, bric-a-brac, crab shells, papier mache animals, boxes and artwork, new things and childhood favourites, treasures from trips abroad and photographs of our ancestors. On one wall we have an abstract painting by the Hungarian artist Sandor Zugor – my parents bought it in New York when they lived there in the 1970’s. A seal’s skull sits on a book by Deborah Levy, and there are illustrated books by Edward Gorey, Scott McCloud, and Motohiro Hayakawa as well as zines and comics by Isabel Greenberg, Jim Stoten, Tom Hubmann and many more. A framed picture of a bear by the illustrator Caroline Pedler sits at the end of the desk. On the top shelf there is an Indian Puppet brought back by my brother perhaps 25 years ago, a proud superhero, he sits opposite a robot doll made by the furniture designer Jamie Donaldson. A flying dragon from Guangzhou airport hangs from the ceiling and brings us luck. All of these things represent memories of good times, adventures and exploration, friends, beauty and family. A wonderful source of inspiration.”

See more of John’s work.

2. Clear Your Headspace

Ah, clutter – the stereotypical mark of creative space. Unwashed mugs, brushes strewn about, desk lost under piles of sketches, rough drafts, and receipts from the cafe across the street.

Fortunately for those of us who prefer things a bit tidier (*raises hand*), that’s all clutter is – a stereotype. Workspaces and studios vary in as many ways are artists do – we all thrive in different environments. Open, uncluttered spaces aren’t empty – they’re just another blank canvas!

Carson Reiners

Carson Reiners is a NYC-born performer, photographer, and visual artist currently living and working in Chicago. She attended CODARTS in Rotterdam, Netherlands and graduated with a BFA in dance from the Anton Bruckner Universitat (Linz, Austria). Carson danced in NYC for many years under prominent choreographers and presented her work at Judson Church, Dixon Place, Tada Theatre, Brick Theatre, Reverb Dance Festival, WestFest, KoDaFe, and others. Carson has received multiple awards, residencies, and grants throughout her career, which has led her abroad for international project in Europe, India, Peru, South Africa, and Israel. She is an avid movement educator and can be found teaching throughout the state of Illinois.

  • Clear Your Creative Headspace
  • Clear Your Creative Headspace

“This was my last work place last week, The Krannert Center in Champaign, Illinois. Being a choreographer ends up being very nomadic—often due to practicality of time/availability/resource your work space/studio changes. One thing about a studio is that it’s so bare—it is that blank page waiting to be written on, daunting and yet exciting. Couple that with the fact a dance cannot be born until it has movers, the next level of inspiration is that of the movers in the space. The beauty of intelligent movers is you also do not know what will be written through them. In many ways it’s in the purest form of inspiration through endless possibility, and inspiration through the transformation of a space that presented itself. A sculpting and transforming of space and the human body in it, which allows the story to begin to speak.”

See more of Carson’s work.

3. Contribute to The Creative Ecosystem

It makes sense, doesn’t it, that artists inspire one another?

Placing ourselves in creative environments, surrounding ourselves with other artists / artwork builds an uplifting and self-sustaining community. Filling our own workspaces with others’ art fortifies an ecosystem of creativity and empowers other creatives from many mediums to continue in their craft. You’re here for each other and we’re here for all of you.

Raul Guerrero

Raul Guerrero is a Spanish artist and painter who trained in the Fine Arts School of Sevilla. He left Spain, “in search of ‘The London Experience’” over a decade ago. “Today, he’s still living it.” When he moved to London, Raul started a series of street drawings (The Londoners), documenting London living from “those living in the margins of mainstream society.” His painting Brit Pop was shortlisted for the 2011 BP Portrait Award and exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery.

  • Contribute to the Creative Ecosystem
  • Contribute to the Creative Ecosystem

“At street level, Central London offers plenty of light and a full view of the busy, vibrant London life outside. Curious visitors are encouraged to get in and take a closer look of the space and my work. The picture shows me painting a poster in collaboration with my model Stefanny. Far from being a distraction, the business of urban life on the other side of the window panes gives a welcome edge to my activity and puts me in direct contact with potential followers and clients.” 

See more of Raul’s work.