Artist in Residence
The line between functional and liveable is a fine one in artist Ryan Sook’s studio.
I’ve had four homes with five studios over the past 20 years. And it’s worth mentioning that in nearly all of those workspaces my arrangement was established, reestablished and often re-reestablished throughout my tenure in each one. Not unlike my process for making pictures in fact.
The space shown here is my favourite thus far! And I got it settled after only one rearrangement of things!
Finding a balance between functionality and comfort is essential in creating a productive work environment. Spending often eight to 14 hours a day in the same space requires, for me, that it should be somewhat pleasant to exist in. But not too pleasant! Not too much comfort! Lest I find myself lounging. Ogling art books, reading Ross MacDonald novels, playing guitar, or watching that movie for the fifth time (okay, 15th time) instead of drawing.
Then again, the studio can’t be so sterile or industrious that it becomes a place I have no desire to be in. Otherwise my drawing table, painting station, rolling tool caddies, monitors and keypads become little more than disgruntled coworkers I’d like to avoid. My lovely wife and two little girls provide sufficient reason to elude the studio as it is. So I can’t allow the space to become oppressive.
Now, after a couple of decades, I’ve managed to work out the kinks and
strike that balance of harmonious efficiency that makes my studio an enjoyable place to make pictures in. With four distinct “stations” in the space – drawing, digital, painting, and storage – I can quickly jump from an inked board or painting to the scanner and Photoshop without skipping a beat. All the while, enjoying an audiobook or listening to that movie for the 15th time. Okay, 50th! I’m old. But good movies, like good comics, never become old.
My “Ryan’s Studio Roost” hand-carved sign came from my dad. A great artisan, whose studio I promise would be far more interesting to see than mine! My great oak flat files, a gift from my wife, are a prized possession. How she managed to fit all four in my 91 Ford Explorer is still a mysterious, if not a miraculous achievement! My vintage 1960s Dazor lamp hangs over my home-made painting table. It cost a dollar at a rummage sale. For a buck, it’s one of the best investments in the room! My assortment of real and sculpted bones, shells and horns are strewn about to remind me that the best designs are those found in nature. My drawing table. It’s the only piece of furniture in the room that I’ve bought myself. Makes me feel professional. I’m trying to live up to owning it! The windows here are one of my favourite features. The changing light, the trees and the not-too distant Californian coast make the view too beautiful to close the blinds.
Original art by my daughter Eden when she was one. At age four she paints better than I do!
Behind this unused fireplace are my dusty books (I read a lot online now) and my collection of comics, which hide behind bags, boxes and shipping supplies. The days of long boxes are gone. My tiny Ikea desk and drawers are bare-bones furniture, for when I’m working digitally. I like the smallest tablet and simplest tools in Photoshop, with a scanner and printer within easy reach. More importantly, some coffee, water, an iPad for reference and audio books are all to hand. Most of the fun in the room happens at my painting station. Finished and unfinished art gather with multiple sketchbooks and every possible medium. This is the only time I’m creative without restraint. Without personal projects, work for hire becomes stale! My huge drafting table is less for scale than for the number of concurrent projects. I need room for a sketchbook(s), iPad and completed pages to refer to. Again, coffee is as close as any other essential tool!