A Body Healthy Studio Work Area for Artists, Designers and Crafty People! Post three in a series of three.

You can read my earlier 2 posts on my blog

Upgraded Work Area:

After working with my temporary standing work area for about 5 months, I was ready to commit. I had worked out some kinks, figured out what I liked (everything) and what I didn’t (nothing) and had gained experience getting comfortable with the thought of standing for most of the day.

Last month, due to some construction in my studio, I was forced to remove everything…EVERYTHING. This provided a wonderful opportunity to recreate my workspace in a more permanent and yes, attractive way.

I kept the same basic ideas and reworked them to be functional and pretty. A place I would enjoy creating in everyday. While I grew to LOVE my standing digital work area, I didn’t like how slap-dash and messy it was.

I had an armoire that I used for books but decided to convert it to my standing work area. It was in my son’s room when he was a baby so it also has wonderful memories attached to it. I took the doors off and removed the existing shelves. I cut down the wood shelves I had used in my rigged version and attached them to the inside of the upper unit to create the two levels for my keyboard and drawing tablet. I adjusted the heights with some extra wood scraps. I had some leftover fabric so I covered the inside walls using a staple gun. The armoire was set up to hold a TV so it had plugs built in.

Everything fit and it ended up being a cozy place to work. It also looks neat and clean because everything is contained.

Right next to that is my seated desk making it seamless for me to transition between both throughout the day.

I am so grateful to work from my home studio and want to be able to create for a long time. Hopefully these steps will help make that a possibility. We only get one body. I am acutely aware of how important it is to take care of it.

Please feel free to share any of your own tips and ideas on how you set up your creative workspace.

A Body Healthy Studio Work Area for Artists, Designers and Crafty People! Post two in a series of three.

You can read my earlier post below about the birth of my standing work area and see details on the process of creating a back healthy studio space.

In all of my research, I did come across other ergonomic and healthy work area suggestions. Please see some that I implemented below.


Anti-fatigue Mat
While my back loved that I was standing, my feet were sore from being on them for so long. Plus I like to work barefoot and that was hard on my soles. New research! I hunted for the best anti-fatigue mat I could afford. After reading many posts and reviews I decided to go with the CUMULUSPRO COMMERCIAL GRADE- 24 in. x 36 in. x 3/4 in, (SKU 9100) for around $100. I purchased it online at Imprint Mats. What a difference! It’s amazing. No tired feet, no backache, good with or without shoes. I believe it is an integral part to the whole standing workspace. It had a slight odor when I opened it but that left quickly.

Drawing Tablet Pen Alteration:
I thankfully haven’t had any serious issues with my hands or wrists but I know how common and debilitating these injuries can be for artists and designers. I stumbled upon suggestions from this website (http://www.claytowne.com/beats-digging-ditches/ergonomic-tips-and-tricks-for-graphic-designers-web-designers-artists-and-office-workers/) and have found them to be super helpful.  I did wrap my digital pen with foam to make it bigger and while it felt very unnatural at first, now it feels weird if I don’t have the foam on it. I think it has really helped save my hand and wrist.

Ergonomic Mouse:
Many years ago, when I started to show signs of wrist and hand fatigue, I switched to a rollerball mouse (Logitech Marble Mouse) and have never looked back! I know people have a hard time with these at first but you CAN get used to it. I believe that this, along with the other steps I have taken, have helped me stay healthy with the amount of work I do, my age and my personal body issues.

Task Lighting:
In my opinion, this is one of the most important things to consider for a healthy workstation.  When I draw, paint, make jewelry, etc…I am totally in love with my Ott light. From their website “OttLite table and desk lamps bring natural daylight illumination to help you see details clearly and colors accurately so you can do what you love, longer.”

I have the “13w Slimline Task Lamp” and purchased mine at a national fabric and craft store during a sale. It folds down and out of the way when not in use. I think it is normally around $50 but they have lights in a wide range of price points and styles. I also have a couple of the portable “Ottlite LED Mini Flip Lights”. They are good for travel and clip onto your sketchbook.

In my next post I will share my new updated standing work area and studio changes.

I would love to know if any of these work for you!

A Body Healthy Studio Work Area for Artists, Designers and Crafty People! Post one in a series of three.

A standing desk?

Hello fellow creatives, 

I am a grateful artist and designer and after spending the majority of my career (so far) painting murals, home accessories and furniture, I needed to rethink my back breaking work process for the health of my body. Now that my focus is on surface design and creating art for licensing on products and textiles, I might have gone the other extreme and could have become more sedentary.  

About 6 months ago, I was in a slight panic. I knew I was going to be working from my home studio again (which I was thrilled about) but I also knew that the type of work I was going to be doing could destroy my back, neck and shoulders if I wasn’t smart about my workplace setup. With a history of chronic back issues from my years of painting murals, I have become hyper vigilant about making decisions that support my body.

My first thought was that maybe I needed a new chair. I began researching ergonomic chairs and even put some feelers out for good referrals. There were some very helpful recommendations but all were way out of my price range and some didn’t seem much better than what I already had. I looked into some accessories that you can use with your existing chair and they seemed like a nice entry-level option but there was something that was nagging me. It was the thought of sitting for hours, even in a special chair or with using a back-saving prop. My intuition told me there must be another way.

I switched my focus to investigating “alternative seating” options. This included large inflated balls, knee rest models and saddle chairs. The inflated ball had really helped when I was pregnant but didn’t work so well with the back issues I had years later.  We also have two cats that thought it was their toy. The knee rest model seemed like it might end up causing pressure issues in other areas and were also expensive for the better models. The saddle chair peaked my interest and I could see ending up with one at some point but it still didn’t seem like the right option for now as it would still be sitting.

Hmm, no solution. Then, I listened to my intuition.

For my back and neck issues, sitting for long periods is bad news. Really the worst thing I can do.  Standing and movement throughout the day are good. The other thought I had was, maybe it’s not so black and white. Maybe I need a combination of standing AND sitting in my workday. Since I had the sitting part pretty well covered, I moved on to new research for a standing workspace.

In my situation, I found that the most time I spent doing something was working on my computer. I also found that I had the worst seated posture while working on my computer…double whammy. That was what I chose to focus on for my standing work area.

In my early searching I got a bit discouraged because most of the pre-made standing desks were expensive and not very attractive. They also didn’t provide enough surface space for the tools of my trade. I did find several options for a contraption that would go on top of your existing desk to convert it to a standing desk, which I thought was kind of brilliant. The drawback was that without knowing if using a standing workspace would work for me, I didn’t want to shell out $500-$600.

I thought, “I’m crafty and resourceful, maybe I can rig something temporary to see if I like the setup”...and that’s what I did.

This is my first configuration, using some scrap wood and closet storage shelves on top of my existing desk. Not pretty but functional enough for me to get an idea.
I researched the suggested measurements for ergonomic levels for each electronic item and tweaked them a bit to fit my needs. If you Google “measurements for a standing desk” a bunch of diagrams will come up with suggestions on monitor distance and angle, keyboard height, etc… I found that those were a great base to begin with and then I was able to make changes that suited me personally.

One of the challenges I found for setting up this kind of workspace for an artist was that I needed a space for my drawing tablet along with my keyboard and mouse. How would I fit everything and be able to use it all without having to move it each time or reach too far and cause strain. I found by having two levels I could store the tablet on the bottom level when I was primarily using the keyboard. Then when I brought the tablet up to draw, the keyboard slid back behind it on the same level and was still usable. Another option I thought of was to get a smaller keyboard and a different mouse but I really like the two that I have, so this set up has worked for me.

How I used this first generation set-up.

For artwork done by hand, sketching, drawing, etc…I sit at my desk. If I feel I need to, I set a timer to get up and move every 45 minutes because if I am into something, hours and hours can go by in the blink of an eye. My back is not happy when that happens and it shows me how unhappy it is when I go to stand up!

For digital artwork, editing photos, using Photoshop, posting to sites, etc…I use the standing desk area. It did take a little getting used to at first. Drawing on my tablet felt awkward while standing but that quickly changed. Now it feels like what I have always done. I feel stronger and like my posture has gone back to what it was pre-computer slouch.

I also move more in general. If I have music playing, I find myself dancing or swaying. Sometimes I inadvertently stand in "tree" pose while I draw. I stretch and bend while I wait for pages to load. I hydrate more! I might have even lost some weight because of it. I appreciate sitting more too. Now it is like a welcome respite instead of an anchor. It feels like my body has developed a rhythm. It just sort of flows between the two stations.  

There are other changes I made and accessories I have added to my work arsenal and I will share them in the next post. As well as my current, updated set-up.
Stay tuned!

Let me know about your work set-up in the comments!


Find Your Inner Stillness...

All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.

- Eckhart Tolle


“Our real discoveries come from chaos,
from going to the place
that looks wrong
and stupid
and foolish.”

- Chuck Palahniuk