I'm often asked for photos of my work space. You'd think this would be an easy, straightforward question, but it always presents a dilemma for me.
Here's one I used recently:
Pretty, right? I love the hand-painted light wood tabletop and the way the tools and supplies are neatly scattered around. It looks fresh and inviting, a nice place to spend a few luxurious hours. I would definitely want to buy handmade items from such a tidy person.
I've been told that this is the kind of image people want to see. They don't want real life; they want to see a fantasy of what their own lives might look like if they also designed jewelry professionally. I can understand that; I spend time on Pinterest, too.
[If you're the sensitive type whose soul can only bear images of beauty and perfection, I implore you to stop reading. There's nothing for you here.]
[Seriously. Go away.]
[Okay. Only a few stalwart souls left? You may continue.]
But the truth is that this is not the real place I do my work. It's actually part of my photo set-up. I'd be afraid of scratching or making dark marks on that pretty painted wood surface. I rarely count out every supply I need for a project and then methodically assemble them. My ugly, banged-up workhorse tools—the ones that I use every day—are not in that photo. It's a scramble sometimes, trying to keep up with the picture of the finished item in my head as I create. I explode bead packages, toss tools around, and treat my findings like confetti. For me, design time is not a time to be timid and worried about messing up a pristine studio.
Over the weekend I finished writing a necklace tutorial. This is what my "bead studio" looked like in the aftermath. The plastic tub, while not glamorous, allows me to move my workspace wherever I need it. (And by "wherever" I mean the sofa, so I can watch The Great British Baking Show while working.) I usually work in the bottom part of the plastic box and put anything not immediately required into the lid. The pink beading mat keeps the beads from rolling around. All the bead packaging is there (not tossed in the trash) so that I can later write up the instructions accurately.
A disaster, maybe, but it works for me. One of your main jobs as a creative person is to figure out what works for you and do it, no matter what all the "experts" say. Maybe you do your best work in a beautiful cottage with sun streaming through the windows and a cat on your lap and that's just fine!
P.S. I'm not a total slob. I do clean up my portable workspace after I'm finished so it's ready for the next project. I find that the clean-up time is important to let myself have a mental break in between each big project.