4 Creative Lessons From The Studios Of Famous Artists

Back in 2009, Sarah Trigg, a painter and photo editor, was observing her own creative rituals in her Brooklyn studio when she began thinking about what other artists were doing in their studios. "What are their rituals?" Trigg wondered, "What do their collections look like?" She realized no one else had done a book–length work photographing artists' studios, and says she felt "a calling, for lack of a better term," to create her new book, Studio Life: Rituals, Collections, Tools and Observations on the Artistic Process.

Here are just a few things she learned along the way from the 100 artists she includes in Studio Life, like conceptual artist John Baldessari, performance artist Nick Cave, and photographer and video artist William Wegman.

Studio Life: Rituals, Collections, Tools and Observations on the Artistic Process

When Tools Don't Exist, Make Your Own

One thread that Trigg saw in many of the studios was that many of the artists she interviewed and photographed had made their own tools to make their work easier. In her own painting practice, Trigg made what she calls a "portable sink." "When I paint I use acrylic, which is thinned with water." Trigg explains. "I found I had to make a lot of trips to the sink, so I got a water jug with a spigot and cut a hole in the back so I could transfer it around." The most complex tool Trigg encountered was from the painter Gordon Terry, who created a special table to make geometric shapes that look like colorful mollusks. "Each table leg is connected to a hydraulic jack that can be much like a car can be raised or lowered to move around the paints on the surface to create his works," Trigg says.

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