As much as we would all love a studio for us to paint our dreams and create all the wonders our minds conjure up, it may not be quite yet obtainable for many of us, mostly due to space. It’s like Monopoly in your home, especially if you are living with other people, trying to claim prime real estate before someone else does.
As is the case in my home. I have been living in my current apartment for two years now, and finally we managed to wedge a desk into the only remaining available corner in the apartment … for my boyfriend. So now he has a tiny office space, and I am still doing all my work on the kitchen table.
Of course, you don’t need to have a separate room for a creative studio. A living room corner can do the trick, with a small desk and shelves to carry all of your supplies and materials. But if you don’t even have a tiny corner, then you have to make do with what you do have, such as a kitchen table.
While a community table may be sufficient to get work done, it’s not *your* space where you can leave your projects and tools all over the place, to be readily picked up even if you step outside for a walk or go on a weekend getaway.
A community table means that you have to keep your supplies elsewhere. In my home, all of my supplies are jammed into two dresser drawers. To get to my papers and specific paint brushes, I need to take everything out only to put them all back in again when I am done.
This is why I have such difficulty getting started with drawing or painting for the day, and why I am always dreaming of my own studio space – a place to neatly tuck pencils, paints, and pastels, to have my papers and inspiring books within arm’s reach, and to never partake in a wrestling match every day solely to win a sheet of watercolor paper.
So to make the most of not having a dedicated creative space, I’ve been trying different ways to maintain creativity without any roadblocks and hassles. Thus, The Project Box was born!
It’s not a new concept, nor is it something I invented, but I do think it might not be used to its best potential. Some people may have an Unfinished Projects Box or a Works in Progress Box, and I used to as well. Except … I never got any of the things in that box done.
Not only is this Project Box for current projects in the works, it is also a place for easy access to your tools, so that you can engage in more creativity. Having materials right at your fingertips can inspire you to pick up that paint brush and start painting. Which is why the main purpose of the Project Box is to make your art supplies accessible, even if you don’t have a dedicated creative space to put all of your materials.
I want to make sure that this Project Box doesn’t get forgotten like my past Unfinished Projects Box. So to make sure it is effective, I came up with some Do’s and Don’ts of the Project Box:
THE DO’S OF THE PROJECT BOX
1. KEEP IT OPEN
Don’t put a lid on it! An open top box allows you to see the contents that are inside and what you need to currently work on. If you cover it, you’re more likely to forget about it, and if you stack things on top of that box, then you’re even less likely to want to open it up to grab something from inside.
2. KEEP IT LIGHT
Find a box that has handles so that you can easily lift it and move to wherever you work. In a way, it’s like having your own studio shelf, but portable. That also means that you don’t want a heavy box, as much as we would all want the trunks they use in the Harry Potter movies.
Also, make sure the box isn’t too big. A big box beckons for more things to be placed inside, which will end up hiding smaller projects, or little items can get lost at the bottom of the box. I also think that a smaller box will motivate you to finish projects before putting new things into it.
3. KEEP IT OUT IN THE OPEN
Keep the box in a convenient location that you can easily access, maybe even somewhere that you can see so you know that it’s there, waiting patiently. My Project Box sits at the foot of my bed, and it has been very easy to pick out a project each morning as I head out of my room, as well as put everything back in when I am done for the day.
4. KEEP THE CONTENTS ROTATING
Once you are done with a project, move the supplies you don’t need to use anymore back to your main supply stash. That way, your Project Box won’t get cluttered. This is also helpful because you’ll be able tell what tools and supplies you tend to use the most, since they end up staying in the box and get chosen almost daily.
If you’re super organized, set out some time at the end (or start, depending how you look at it!) of every week to sort through the box and remove projects you just don’t feel like working on anymore to clear up space for new inspirations.
THE DON’TS OF THE PROJECT BOX
1. DON’T PUT OTHER THINGS IN IT!
This is the only Don’t, and it’s a big one! It might sound obvious that a Project Box is meant for your projects, but you may be tempted to use the box as another storage container and start putting other things into it. If you need to, get another box for those items, but make sure you know that the Project Box is for art projects and supplies only, so that it doesn’t turn into a junk box that obscures your current projects from view.
Paired with my 100 Day Project, this Project Box has allowed for more creativity this month than I have had in a long time! I love the whole grab-and-go aspect of it without having to dig in my drawers for something specific.
The box I purchased is this one from Target, and while I love its practicality (it can be collapsed when not in use), its tall height hides some of my smaller projects, so I would recommend one that is half that size if you are interested in this box. Ideally, I would like two boxes – one for books, one for art projects – but to conserve some space for the time being, I’m going to stick with the one.
This is what you will currently find in my Project Box:
- Art books for inspiration – A bunch of art and image-laden books that I use to draw from for my 100 Day Project.
- Sketchbooks and notebooks – I have mainly been drawing and writing in small sketchbooks and notebooks, so there are four of them in there for different purposes, depending on the type of paper.
- Drawing media – I have been keeping my illustrations simple, so ink pens, pencils, and markers are in rotation for my current projects. To make it less cluttered and easy to grab, these tools are placed in a couple of pencil bags.
- Things to photograph for Instagram – Artwork by fellow artists, enamel pins, art supplies … The small items are in a small box, so that they don’t get lost in my Project Box.
- Needle punch project – This project is from when I attended a workshop by Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou earlier this month. I really want to finish this, so keeping it in my box is a good reminder that I still have that to work on.
I’m still working on clearing out my box to rotate its contents, but I must say that it has been so much better than having to tackle supplies in and out of two dresser drawers! (Note that these tips work best for smaller projects. I don’t work with huge canvases or really big tools, but I’m sure you can find a box that will suit your needs, or truthfully, that might need a different method altogether.)
However, a few days after purchasing this box, my coworker told me she bought this rolling cart for her kids to wheel around their art supplies, and I wish I thought of that! I much prefer a Project Cart, but since I just bought the box, I decided to give it a shot for the time being. But if you have the space, I think the rolling cart is a fantastic idea. It’s perfect for having tools on one shelf, papers and notebooks on another, and books on the last shelf. I might even consider getting one when I finally set up a dedicated studio space!
Anyway, if you’re having some difficulty getting started with creative projects, give this Project Box a try and see if it works for you. Productivity and organization methods work differently for everyone, but you never know if something may work until you try it!