Renting a studio: top tips

  • Ian Kiaer - Studio Project (detail)

Graphic designer and illustrator Guthrie Watson on what to look for when you’re renting a studio

Your studio space needs to suit your practice. For some, practical considerations will come first, for others the social interaction and shared space will be important. Everyone has different needs, but here are a few tips about how to go about finding the right studio space for you.

  • Find somewhere close to your home. It shouldn’t take you more than half an hour to get to
  • The web is likely to be your first port of call when looking for a studio and a good place to start is the Artist Studio Finder
  • Look at what’s available in your local area from estate agents, noticeboards or the local paper, but bear in mind these are not generally artist-friendly dedicated studios, and can come with hidden charges
  • Thinking about the benefits and drawbacks of working at home will help you recognise the right space when you find it. Some artists can and do work from home. However, for many, it’s far simpler to have a studio
  • It’s important to physically inspect available spaces as soon as is practical. Nothing will help you decide like seeing the studio in person
  • If you’re happy to share a space, there will be a wider range of options available at lower prices
  • Charities like Bow Arts rent spaces to artists at lower than market rates and may well be your first port of call when you’re looking for a studio space

  • Renting a studio might free up space in your home, if you work with bulky materials, so that you can balance your budget by renting a smaller room or flat.
  • Make sure you understand the contract before you sign! The contract will set out what you can use the space for, notice period, rent and bills, your responsibilities while using the space and those towards other studio tenants. Less scrupulous private agents might try to include clauses in a contract that may limit what you can do in the space, access times and minimum notice periods. The contract will be legally binding. Be wary of agents who try to rush you through the signing process

Questions to keep in mind

Some questions you should be asking the agent and yourself when you check out a studio space...

  • How much is the rent?
  • Will I pay a separate heating or electricity bill?
  • Can you share your space with other artists?
  • Can you alter your space? If so what can I change? Will you have to change it back when you leave?
  • Is the space accessible 24/7? If not when can you access the space?
  • What are the basic terms of the contract? Notice required to quit, deposit etc.
  • What does the potential studio offer in terms of:
    - Square footage?
    - Power outlets?
    - Central heating/cooling?
    - Security, doors locks etc?
  • Is there easy access to the space (especially for less mobile artists)?
  • Will you have the level of privacy you need to make your work?
  • What other facilities are provided? Bathroom, kitchen, bike parking?

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