5 ways for artists to stop hoarding stuff

Sheila Chandra - Monday, May 22, 2017

Is your workspace full of materials spilling out of every shelf, drawer or corner? Do you find yourself having to clear up before you can even start work? Do you feel you need a bigger studio simply so that you can accommodate it all? Then you likely have a hoarding problem with artist materials. Here’s how to solve it.


Stop hoarding stuff by making sure it’s not an emotional issue

Hoarding stuff can be a way to feel as though you can control your life. Or you may find yourself hoarding stuff because you get overly attached to every single item. Believing that everything has sentimental value – or that you can effectively recycle it into another artwork. The trouble with this sort of thinking is that it means you end up saving everything ‘just in case’. On the other hand you don’t want to throw out something that’s useful. This is especially important if your art materials can be expensive or you don’t know when you’ll be able to afford any more.


Stop hoarding stuff by letting go

The first thing to do is to practice letting go. And to do that you have to have a ‘criteria’ for sorting things. Remember that your artist workspace or studio costs you a lot to heat and light and rent. That means it’s far too precious to use as storage. Storage of items should be kept to a minimum and to items you’re definitely going to need – or else you’re wasting that money because you’re not getting full use of the space. If you’re a sentimental hoarder, stop attaching stories to everything. Let them go where they’re needed. That may not be with you, so pass them on.


What should my criteria for letting go of stuff be?

I suggest you keep anything that falls into the following categories:

  1. Any materials or equipment that you’ll definitely use in the next year.
  2. Any equipment you suspect you’ll need again which will be expensive to replace.
  3. Anything you need for legal or financial reasons – contracts, invoices etc.

If you allow yourself to keep things that fall outside these categories you’ll be putting pressure on yourself to use materials that it will probably take several lifetimes to go through and use. That’s too much pressure! Keep your studio ‘lean’ so that it’s a fighting fit space for you to work in comfortably. Yes, occasionally you’ll need to replace an odd item. But that’s nothing to the amount you’d have spent on storing it in your expensive artist workspace.


Stop hoarding by streamlining what you buy

Many artists resist being categorized. That’s understandable but it’s actually very useful to become known for working in a certain colour palette or in particular materials such as metal or wood. That’s because it allows you to be instantly recognizable. But also because it means you can bulk buy with confidence. You know what you’re likely to need and what you won’t. It also means you can throw away or recycle materials you’re unlikely to need again (from one off projects or commissions) with confidence. If you have no idea what your brand is, or what you want to be working on in the future, now’s the time to do a little digging and a little planning so that you can streamline your artist materials.

If you want to know more about how to work efficiently and effectively as a professional artist, read more in ‘Organizing for Creative People’.

Post has no comments.
Post a Comment

Captcha Image


Recent Posts


quality the void how to work efficiently networking effectively childhood too busy creative organising social media networking vulnerability mess being organized confident in clothes artistic conviction creative career friendships diagnosis loving your audience inconvenience criteria for letting go of stuff living mess free car loss storage letting go celebrity endorsed products pop culture copyright good friend smart artists symptoms of creativity clutter chaotic emotional support email clearing in short bursts cleaning your desk under-confidence artist workspaces artistry display items organizing for creative people proposals living clutter free pop music static spaces exhaustion branding long-term artistic development ‘creativity’ buying youth temperament tidy people creative person missed opportunities card professional creative career concentrated creative time housework much quicker being tripped up artistic chaos email overload normality organise fine art inspiration networking grief vocation good art work much better friend magic clearing as you go self promotion successful artist well organized diary feel like creatiing staying in control stardust culture proposal writing hostile clutter stop hoarding stuff clear desk emotional resilience spree efficient work patterns lifetimes commitment creativity diary clutter addict feeling creative low maintenance strategies emotionally secure artist creative magic fall of innocence lazy warm down why organise hobbies tidiness in living spaces options nurturing creative work hoarding artist innocence nipping things in the bud work/home life balance just in case business interface to creative businesses time clutter how to save time double standard binge creative confidence domestic life work priorities ‘stories’ about your possessions organisation clearing tidy desk cupboard of shame clear outs tortoise and hare nascent artists buying stardust creativity introverts writing funding campaigns great artists compulsion working class artists platform anxiety creative identity home organising business partners procrastination brands social media great art funding absences wind down stay tidy automatically resentment work life multiple lifetimes email bankruptcy appointments peer-to-peer networks focus business-speak collections home life working class culture clearing clutter buy fewer clothes clarity of thought business-like trope motivation stay on top of email low maintenance slim-line wardrobe network good creative habits sacrifice green room visualising cry creative commissions VIPs work trips clean desk buying wealth work efficiently buying happiness artist mentors minimalists tension control overwork jealousy professional encouragement parent imagination wardrobe creative spark workspaces tidy home care friends crowdfunding disorganization subconscious mind effortlessly tidy mature artists cleaning guilty purchases theft dynamic spaces peacefulness myth emotional balance popular culture productivity well curated closet to do list nurture creativity tips for clearing professional mentors arrogance stop cluttering elevator pitch hotel room artists artist materials too many commitments : clothes precious memories tidier brilliant creator making decisions bulk buy how to be naturally tidy slow and steady touring boredom buying hope hijacking creativity critical acclaim goals Sheila Chandra author creative culture creative people creative wellbeing