Artist in residence
Cory Godbey’s studio houses his collection of knick-knacks, Tolkien books and terrariums.
Welcome to my studio. My workspace is located in the walkout basement below my house. Since it’s mostly underground, the studio stays cool during the summer and I keep a fire going during the winter. I love working from home, because I’m not-so-secretly a hermit, and prefer the company of my wife and son, along with our gang of cats.
Beyond the door is my outdoor studio: gardens, woods and a treehouse. Before I get to work each morning, I spend a little time outside, walking the paths through the woods, checking on my bird feeders and watering the plants. Later in the day, you might find me in the treehouse, answering emails or taking client calls.
In the main room I have my workstations: a drafting table under the window with ample natural light, and a section of desks for digital work and administrative tasks, a large scanner, and several flat files. Whether for clients and personal projects, my work is typically a mix of traditional and digital, so it’s helpful to have these workstations separated but close at hand.
The fireplace and sitting area is where you’ll find some sketchbooks and art reference scattered about, and usually a cat or two lying on top of whatever I’m trying to work on. The wall of built-in bookshelves is perfect for showcasing my favourite books and varied collections. Off the main area, a smaller room is used for assembling and shipping prints. My convention materials live
in a storage closet, and the bathroom is handy for rinsing out brushes.
Having the proper set-up for an artist is just like choosing any other tool. You have to find what works best for you and make it your own. Feeling at home in my studio helps me to create better and work smarter.
Cory creates fanciful illustrations for books and films. His award-winning work has been featured in the likes of Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art and The Society of Illustrators. See his art at www.corygodbey.com.
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Any proper hermit knows a fireplace is essential. You can lurk around the woods gathering firewood, poke at the embers when you’re in a foul mood, and even cook over it if you’re trying to avoid human contact. I also use the fireplace to burn bad drawings when I gather work for my annual fire sale, much to the chagrin of some of my fans. In another life, I might have been a terrarium maker. I love these little worlds, made from moss and stones and bits of branches contained by glass. One time a small spider got into a terrarium and died, but not before it had spun tiny webs over the dead moss. It was the spookiest terrarium ever. Mordor’s own terrarium. If you’re ever visiting my studio in person and I invite you to sit by the fire to discuss Tolkien mythology, make a beeline to claim the chair. The old settee is terrifically uncomfortable.
Access to some quiet green space is essential for my sanity and creativity. I’ll meander around my garden, coffee mug in hand, dictating emails while I check the growth on recent plantings. The treehouse offers more seclusion, perfect for when I’m deep into planning for a future project.
The crown jewel of my mantle is an original oil painting by Annie Stegg Gerard. I’m in love with her masterful depiction of a unicorn foal, and my delight in the subject matter is matched only by my desire to steal all her painting secrets. The wall of built-in bookshelves serves to showcase my collection of art books, favourite novels and various knick-knacks. My favourite shelf houses a series of leather-bound Tolkien books. My wife is an excellent decorator and sometimes I swipe items she has styled on our other bookcases. So if something looks good here it’s probably thanks to her. Off the main studio is a small side room and it’s one of my favourite spaces in the house: my game room. I’ve been a lifelong collector and enjoy having the space to display the various treasures I’ve amassed. At the end of a long workday, I might unwind by playing a little classic Nintendo. This map cabinet is very old, made in the 1800s. Its new function is storing drawings, paintings and paper. What I love most about this piece is that it has a twin, which lives with my good friend and Mouse Guard creator, David Petersen. On top of the cabinet I have little shrine to Swedish fairy tale artist John Bauer, who’s been one of the greatest influences on my work. Having the work of talented artists grace my walls is a true delight. I prefer to collect originals, but have been known to pick up a print from time to time. I’m currently displaying pieces by Omar Rayyan, Wylie Beckert, Tran Nguyen, Gary Lippincott, David Petersen, Niroot Puttapipat, Annie Stegg Gerard, Charles Vess and more. I’m always getting something framed, so the collection rotates as needed.
This handmade leather mask was made by artisans Shane and Leah Odom. It watches over my scanner and sometimes I put it on just to make life more interesting for the studio cats. (No, I don’t.) I was honoured to win the Spectrum Gold Award for my piece, The Fish Master. It will forever be one of my most prized possessions.