Artist in residence
Historical haven This Massachusetts-based artist and author’s studio is steeped in local history and inevitable clutter
Massachusetts-based artist Greg Ruth’s studio is steeped in local history – and clutter.
I live with my family in a late 1800s Victorian, smack in the middle of Main Street in Ashfield, Massachusetts. It was built by the town doctor at the time, who worked in the apothecary building he used as his pharmacy next to it. The history of places is essential to me and I love being in a place so deeply steeped in the local lore.
Having a workspace outside of our principal home is equally important in helping me to keep work at work, and home where it belongs. The downstairs showroom is a bit too open and light filled, so I prefer the darker, cosier environs of the upstairs loft with its wainscoted walls and rosary window.
I work in a state of unforgivable, perpetual clutter and ever since this past summer’s deadline crush to get INDEH, (my new graphic novel with Ethan Hawke due out in June), it’s only gotten worse. One saving grace this created was switching from working late into the night for getting up at 5am for an early start. This change has been a revolution for my productivity, and while getting up so early to start the day is admittedly hellish at first, achieving a full day’s work before noon and not being so rundown by too many late nights has been a revelation. I’d have never finished INDEH intact working in the old way, nor would the work for it be of a quality the book deserves.
I work traditionally, but I like to finish up my pieces and organise them digitally, so having my drafting table opposite my computer station enables me to hop between them as needed. I keep a wellstocked library of artbooks and LPs on hand to help feed the effort as well.
The studio mascot, one of 50 death masks of Bobo the Gorilla, sits at the centre of things. It was given to me as a birthday gift. This guy may not see anything, but he’s always watching. Sometimes he holds my hat for me. The secret passage from the downstairs showroom into the sanctum sanctorum above. None shall pass save for me to that space. I say to others that it’s to keep the space pure, but it’s actually because I never clean it. My work-for-kibble studio assistant, Pete, who reminds me when it’s time to leave work and head in to make supper. Oddly, Pete sees the taxidermy friends as competition for my affections, despite his being still alive as a leg-up.