I want my business to flow like I want my life to flow, and for this I need systems. I spend a lot of time analyzing what I do, how I do it, where I do it, when I feel like doing it, and when I avoid it. After nearly two years of observing myself, I can see certain patterns, allowing me to engineer my use of time and space in a way that feels productive, flexible, and full of ease.
My work is split between three spaces, each of which has finally begun to reveal its identity. I've realized what I want to do in each place, what works given the unique layouts and constraints, what definitely doesn't work.
My studio at my mom's house is my alone space. There I can dive deep in my ideas, experiment with materials, get lost in my projects. It's also a space where I measure very, very precisely and hopefully cut only once. It's where I solder and make noise and use power tools. This has been a shared space for the last three years, and in the new year it will be all mine for the first time. I plan to rearrange a little and put in a painting area and an enameling area. I'm excited.
My gallery is where I put on my public face, at least during the hours I've committed to being regularly open. I've recently started spending more time in this space in off-hours, which feels good and allows me to let my hair down and relax into just being present. The gallery has often felt stressful, and over the last two years I've started to understand why that is, and how to overcome it.
I have a carefully controlled presentation to the public, an experience that I want people to have when they come in here. This requires discipline and procedures and lots and lots of tweaking of details. So much goes into creating the space I envision, and I'm constantly rearranging. I've recognized the cycle, at least: I'll put out new work, agonize because it all looks horrible the way it's displayed, feel like I don't have any of the right props or surfaces or labels, then make a brilliant adjustment that brings all the jewelry and paintings and found objects together, then feel super satisfied for about two weeks, then start to think the displays look bad, feel the need to drastically rearrange, then repeat the cycle but with a slightly different mix of pieces.
I often feel dissatisfied with the way my work looks in the gallery, which I know seems bizarre because the space itself is always beautiful. But there's always something that doesn't fit right, or needs to be regrouped, or on a larger background, or explained in a different way. I think a lot about iterations. Dozens of different ways of categorizing, classifying, presenting, and narrating my work. With each iteration I understand more about myself, about what I'm doing.
The logistical side of this constant re-visioning and re-arranging is a nightmare. Holes drilled, walls patched, paint touched up, lights adjusted, displays built, props corralled in bins, mannequins and busts acquired, aluminum maps stacked, supplies sorted, labels printed, stuff hauled back and forth and back and forth. Thus I am obsessed with how to make it flow easy, this eternal doing and undoing of my space.
Furthermore, I have the opportunity to work with two young women artists as assistant/interns, which means I need to have good storage systems and policies and procedures in place, because if it's hard with one person it quickly turns to chaos when there are more hands and heads involved. Not just the logistical stuff, but thinking about the experience and the identity of my space: how to greet people when they walk in, what kind of values I want to transmit, how to operate in my absence. It's a lot. Training people is hard, because to do it right you have to know what YOU want, which in my case has not only taken a while but is ever-changing. Being able to be flexible and dynamic is a must.
When I first opened the gallery, I thought I'd do a certain kind of work at my front desk and jeweler's bench. I've finally learned what it is I actually want to do here, and what doesn't work at all. I need to do tasks that are conducive to interruption and pauses. Sketching works well, as does administrative stuff.
Other things seemed better in theory than in reality. For example, I started with a huge monitor in the gallery to be able to do photo editing and website updates in here. What I didn't anticipate was the size of the screen, coupled with the glare from the sun hitting the cars parked across the street, giving me migraines. Also the screen blocked my view of the front door. And I realized that when I work on my website, I'm deep in thought trying to build my site in a way that makes sense and write succinct copy. Any interruption totally takes me out of the zone, and I forget what exactly I was doing and what page needed updating. So that was out. I took my monitor home, and now do photo editing and website updates from there.
Which brings me to my final workspace, in our house, in a shared office with Ricardo. That's where I do my accounting, and my emails, and anything that benefits from a huge computer screen. It's a pain to have my functions/papers/things split among three spaces, but the reality is that I often feel like staying home but also need to work a bit. So if I can work a little from home as well as my studio and my gallery, I'm able to stay on top of things better. And there's nothing quite as nice as rolling out of bed, getting some coffee, and knocking out five things on the computer while still wearing pajamas.
The habits from my days as a freelance consultant die hard, I guess.