Justin Kauf­man

Barn­storm­ing art This Wash­ing­ton barn is home to some strange beasts ,as the artist also know as Coro ex­plains…

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When we re­lo­cated from Seat­tle out to the ru­ral Pa­cific north west, I im­me­di­ately set my sights on the empty barn that was built on the prop­erty. It was a rel­a­tively new struc­ture (built in 2009), and while it was un­fur­nished, the barn had wa­ter and sewage lines, an elec­tric­ity sup­ply and two floors to set up on.

The first year we got out here was mainly spent ac­cli­ma­tis­ing to our new ru­ral life. I did, how­ever, be­gin the plan­ning stages of what we wanted to do with the space that the barn of­fered. I put to­gether a scale 3D model and did a vir­tual ren­o­va­tion on it. This was in­cred­i­bly help­ful be­cause I was able to try out a bunch of stuff and re­ally scru­ti­nise the place­ment of struc­tural el­e­ments. When it came time to do the ac­tual con­struc­tion we had fairly fleshed-out el­e­va­tions and con­cept ren­der­ings to work from.

The wet room­style bath­room is ideal for wash­ing kids and dogs

We started work­ing on it last spring. Our next-door neigh­bour is a home builder, and agreed to take it on. It be­came a side project that we could work on be­tween other jobs and when­ever funds be­came avail­able.

This was great – not only be­cause he does great work, but also we didn’t have the money up-front to do ev­ery­thing we wanted, so it was nice to have some flex­i­bil­ity there. I did a lot of the grunt work while he han­dled all of the stuff that re­quired skill. It’s taken us just over a year to get to where we are to­day. Mi­nus a few fi­nal touches, it’s pretty much done.

Up­stairs, down­stairs

The down­stairs is the tra­di­tional paint­ing area and the up­stairs is the dig­i­tal/of­fice level. Down­stairs made sense to set up for tra­di­tional be­cause it has high ceil­ings and the big barn doors that make it easy to take stuff in and out. We took the cen­tre wall back to open up the space more, added in a shop sink with foot-pedal con­trols and in­stalled cork floor­ing. Two sets of track lights run the length of the paint­ing bay, out­fit­ted with 4K LED spot­lights that are great for bright­ness and bal­anced colour.

There’s also a wet room-style bath­room down­stairs that’s ideal for wash­ing kids and large dogs. I like it, too! We in­stalled RGB LED lights above the medicine cab­i­net, which com­bine to cre­ate some­thing of a chro­matic aber­ra­tion-type ef­fect with the shad­ows. It’s like poop­ing in­side a piece of liv­ing con­cept art!

Keep­ing cool

The up­stairs is where I do my il­lus­tra­tion work. On one side of the room I have an iMac and PC. My bet­ter half has a desk set up next to me, and I also hooked up an old lap­top and Cin­tiq for the kids and guests to work on. At the other end of the room is a

lounge area, with a sink and mini-fridge as well as an­other TV.

In ad­di­tion to in­stalling an­other large 6x8-foot pic­ture win­dow, we fit­ted a cou­ple of mo­torised so­lar sky­lights on the north side of the roof, and also retro­fit­ted the cupola with so­lar­pow­ered mo­tors and a ceil­ing fan. At the touch of a but­ton the whole place opens up and the fan draws the hot air out. This sys­tem works well dur­ing tem­per­ate weather. For hot­ter and colder days we in­stalled a multi-split heat pump on both lev­els, which works as both a heater and air con­di­tioner. Be­cause it’s not a huge space, it’s easy to keep the stu­dio at a com­fort­able tem­per­a­ture all year round.

I painted in our liv­ing room for the past 16 years, but with the ad­di­tion of kids in our lives, it be­came in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to get work done. I love hav­ing a space that’s com­pletely sep­a­rate from the house, but still close enough to where I can run in­side at a mo­ment’s no­tice if nec­es­sary. It’s a quiet, com­fort­able space that I find easy to con­cen­trate and cre­ate work within. Justin’s the founder and owner of art stu­dio Mas­sive Black. His re­cent clients in­clude DARPA, Riot, Ama­zon, TRI and Google. You can see his art at www.coro36ink.com.

There was al­ready a de­cent wa­ter sup­ply, so it was just a case of putting the brush stor­age and wash­ing fa­cil­ity in the right spot. The tra­di­tional art setup is on the barn’s ground floor, par­tially be­cause of the ease of ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

Be­hind the barn’s unas­sum­ing ex­te­rior lies a hub of cre­ativ­ity. And a place for the dogs to sleep!

This is an M249 SAW air­soft gun we used for the cover of the game Army of Two. It was eas­ier to just pur­chase a gun and pho­to­graph it… or that’s what we told our­selves so we could buy this thing. It doesn’t work any­more, but it looks cool. Th­ese sky­lights and the cupola win­dows are mo­torised. You need ven­ti­la­tion to counter the heat gen­er­ated from the metal roof. Here’s a be­fore and af­ter shot of the stair­case. Ba­si­cally, the only thing that we didn’t change in the barn is the stair­case. Kind of funny to think that there was a lawn mower parked where the bath­room is now. What art space would be com­plete with­out a cou­ple of dogs? We have two English mas­tiff pup­pies that are of­ten out here. They have a laid-back tem­per­a­ment that makes them great stu­dio mates. This is where I sit most of the time if I’m work­ing up­stairs. I try to keep my work space fairly clean and un­clut­tered, though it can sure get messy dur­ing crunches. I sanded and fin­ished the floors my­self. I hadn’t ever done any­thing like that and it was very sat­is­fy­ing.

This is where I oil paint. Love this view! I grabbed this mag­a­zine holder off the street in San Fran­cisco back in the late 90s. We needed fur­ni­ture, and this caught my eye one day while walk­ing the gro­cery store. I bal­anced it on top of a skate­board and walked it back to my apart­ment. It’s nice be­ing able to open th­ese big doors to bring big items in and out of the barn, or air the room when the air is thick with the smell of mas­tiffs! I at­tached a mon­i­tor and lap­top to my paint cart. The top is cov­ered by a cus­tom-sized, half-inch thick piece of glass to mix paint on. I got it from a com­pany that makes sneeze guards for salad bars and buf­fets at restau­rants. Ar­chi­tec­tural plans and 3D mod­els made it easy to check the place­ment of paint­ing equip­ment and fur­nish­ings, be­fore build­ing work be­gan. Here’s a fish-eye pho­to­graph that I took of the bath­room. There are lots of tile in here. We in­stalled ra­di­ant heat in the floors so it’s pretty com­fort­able, even in win­ter.

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