The last art crawl was my last one in my current studio. Leitworks Art (Leitworks Studio) will be moving to my home studio on August 1st.
My studio location is [was] at 701 West St. Germain, St. Cloud, Minnesota, though I’m not there much anymore. I was in the suite at the end of the hallway. My plan is to move my art studio to my home for a year and look in the meantime for another studio in a better envronment.
The building where your studio is located is very important. This has not been a good location for me in many respects. So here is a cautionary tale for all artists planning to rent a studio: If you are paying rent somewhere, make sure you get it it writing that you can work in some sort of positive environment at any hours of your choosing. Make sure there are not kids above your head banging on drums and having parties, making the argument that their parties are as important as your work. Make sure fellow tenants respect your right to work uninterrupted. Make sure neighboring tenants know you are not there to work for them. That was not the case in this building for me.
I was not able to work at night on many occasions, and that was a huge problem because that’s when I prefer to work! I was even “kicked out” of the building at 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm more than once by the guys upstairs who wanted to bang on their drums all night or do their soundchecks, or have their parties, or have their “events”, etc. — and what I needed to do in my own studio was irrelevant to them. What was I doing there at night anyway, they wondered? They were the worst possible tenants to have upstairs, and to compound these issues, I had no one there who was even present in the building enough to understand the situation and be on my side. The landlord was little help either — until he evicted them, but by then I was already moving out. (It was, ironically, the next door suite neighbor who got them evicted, and she wasn’t even there at night when most of the problems with them occurred.)
It was also not a great location for art crawls, though we did get a lot of traffic in the building. People have to go up a lot of stairs and then pass through the crowds to get down the hall to me, on the end of the hall. Then they had to pass through the next door neighbor and her sales pitch for art lessons. After a hard sales spiel, many people just turned around and left. Who would react well to an aggressive sales patch for art lessons during an art crawl? The neighbor next door became an issue in her own right. It was frustrating too, to be next door to someone who was more interested in disrupting my work, grabbing people for her own benefit during art crawls, and wasting my time with her personal problems, (which she did for literally hours on end) as though my existence there was to listen to her non-stop talking, promote her work for her, and carry things for her (literally). She was completely self-absorbed, treated me like I was her employee, and thought nothing of taking advantage of me whenever she could.
It also didn’t help that the landlord was often gone on 3 week long trips out of the country.
I have heard that due to most of those tenants moving out (all the noisy boys upstairs in particular) and new ones moving in, it’s now a better place to work.
Keep these things in mind if renting a studio: get things in writing, get a good lease, make sure your landlord will be around, make sure that your landlord won’t rent to irresponsible kids who will disrupt your work whenever they feel like partying, and make sure your door has locks. Make sure you are in a safe building to begin with and make sure you won’t have to daily defend your right to be there and work when you want to work…. make sure that at least is understood. Don’t tolerate people who are determined to disrupt your work. Make sure your neighbor(s) respects you and that you are there to work, not listen to their endless problems. I didn’t do any of those things and went into the entire arrangement “blind” because I had never rented a studio before. Next time I will be much more careful.
I believe I can get far more work done in my home studio, and there is no one there telling me to leave at 9:00 pm. or questioning why I’m there when I want to be.
Art Crawls in St. Cloud were a lot of fun, but have not been lucrative for me in general. After I bought snacks for the crowds, as was customary for some reason, I would barely come out even and sometimes, not even that.
There are art fairs in the area which I plan to be a part of this summer, so I’ll know more about the art market here then. (Art Fair in the Gardens is the first, in July). It will be the first summer in a very long time that I have attempted to participate in an art fair and I’m looking forward to it.