Becoming a Professional Artist: Tips for Keeping Your Art Studio Organized

Photo caption: Learning how to organize your art supplies and your art studio in general allows you to work more efficiently. Image by L Gould from Pixabay.

So, let’s be honest here. How organized are your art supplies and your studio? Are your paints and brushes scattered about? Do you even know where all your paint is or what colors you need? What about your brushes? Are they clean? Your canvases?

Many artists love to be surrounded by color and well, a bit of chaos. It’s the freedom to create. The freedom to paint without mundane repetitive actions like constantly tidying up. Is organization a chore for you? Here are some tips that will help.

How to Start Organizing Your Art Supplies

Yes, it’s clichė, but it’s true—you start at the beginning. What do you have? Do spring cleaning and pull out all your supplies to see what condition they’re in. Throw away anything that’s too old or simply doesn’t work any more.

As you’re cleaning, sort your supplies into categories. It’s important to keep acrylic brushes and oil brushes separate. The paints and cleaning methods are completely different. Going from acrylic to oil works OK. 

However, brushes you’ve used for oil painting will ruin your acrylic paints. It’s best to keep a separate supply of brushes. Here are a few categories but you may have more.

  • Drawing tools
  • Watercolor paints
  • Acrylic paint brushes
  • Acrylic paints
  • Oil paint brushes
  • Oil paints
  • Cleaning supplies 
  • Mark making tools
  • Canvases
  • Sketch pads

Once you’ve gone through all your drawers and closets to find all your supplies, and you’ve sorted them into groups, it’s time to see what type of storage containers you’ll need.

How Should I Store My Art Supplies?

This is where you can have some fun. There are a number of stores that sell storage containers to help you get organized. You can also get creative and do some DIY options. The key here is to match the storage container with what you’re storing.

  • Drawing tools: You can use old Mason jars, pencil bags, bins, drawers. The possibilities are almost endless. It just depends on how many pencils, pens, markers, erasers, etc. you have. 
  • Brushes: Mason jars work great but you can also lay them flat in a drawer. Be sure that your brushes are thoroughly cleaned before storing them away. Tip: Never store them with the bristles down. 
  • Paint: There are a variety of ways to store paints. You can hang paint tubes on a pegboard with metal clips attached to the bottom. Storage bins, drawers and carts can also be used. You can separate acrylics into transparents, opaques, and neutrals or put them all together. Oils can be separated into warms, cools, and neutrals.
  • Canvases: First of all, you need to store them vertically. They should also be in a cool, dry place and kept off the floor, if possible. 
  • Sketch books and large paper: Sketch books can be placed on a shelf vertically. Large paper should be stored horizontally on a shelf or in a drawer. 

Here are just a few stores that have good options for art storage. 

  • IKEA: They have great cube units.
  • Michaels: They have a huge variety of containers from plastic bins, to plastic drawers, to metal rolling carts. 
  • Blick: They have so many different categories of storage options. The limit will only be your budget.
  • Pinterest: OK, so it’s not a store. However, you can get a ton of ideas on ways to store your art supplies. If you like to DIY, this is a great option for you.

Why Should I Keep My Art Studio Organized?

Now you have a place for everything and everything in its place. That was hard work. Why should you spend time keeping it this way?

  1. You’ll save money! Once you know exactly what you have, you won’t make the mistake of buying several tubes of the same color of paint because you can never find it when you need it. 
  2. You’ll save time! You’ll know what you have and where you’re storing it so you can use it when you need it. You won’t need to be frustrated wasting time looking for that elusive color you need.
  3. You’ll be more productive! A clean, organized studio promotes creativity and allows you to focus on your paintings. You’ll work more efficiently and effectively.

Final Thoughts on Organizing Your Art Supplies

The most successful artists today are disciplined, and studio organization plays a big role in being disciplined. The more disciplined are you, the more time you’ll have to paint, to dream and to focus on becoming a professional artist. You can do this! You can master the art of organization!

If you’d like more tips on organizing your art supplies and on becoming a professional artist, think about getting a free trial membership to MAI’s Art Club. Each month, you’ll find new videos and articles that will help you up your art game!

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