8 Artists Share How They Set the Perfect Vibe in the Studio

Cooking, podcasts and cozy spaces all play a part.

José Parlá in his studio, 2023. Photo credit Tyler Haft

What makes an artist’s studio the perfect place for creating? Nowadays, there is no one way for an creative space to look: some are part of huge studio complexes, others are a dedicated corner of a bedroom.

The concept of the “studio” as we know it today dates back to the Renaissance, when master artists worked in workshops with apprentices. These were often split into two rooms provided by the artist’s patron: a bottega, a workshop in which the work was made, and a studiolo, a private place where the artist could study and contemplate their work.

For many contemporary artists, having two rooms dedicated to their practice is considered a rare luxury, so what do today’s contemporary artists do to make their space an ideal place for them to work in?

Artnet News has been asking artists what atmosphere they prefer when creating their work, and how they achieve the perfect studio vibe. Here are eight inspiring ideas for anyone looking to optimize the energy in their studio.


Rose B. Simpson: Sound System = On

Courtesy of Rose B. Simpson.

Courtesy of Rose B. Simpson.

I sometimes think that the artists who make the music that I listen to while I work should be credited as collaborators. I have a nice sound system in my studio and I like to swim in the sound. Through the years I have cycled through different types of music that feel right to me. I like reggae a lot because sometimes the music feels like it’s in prayer—which matches the feeling I get when I work and then I can dance.

I really love Reemah and my friend Dre Z. Melodi, along with the classics. I have a soundtrack called “my shit” on Spotify with like 300 songs that include feelings like Badu, Teyana Taylor, Tierra Whack, Tank and The Bangas, Seinabo Sey, Brother Ali, Jamila Woods, Mereba, Nas, Wu Tang, and my niece Ailani.


Song Dong: Wordless Reading

Courtesy of Song Dong and Pace, New York.

Courtesy of Song Dong and Pace, New York.

I like quiet spaces where I can think. I used to face a white wall or read a book with no words.


Ania Hobson: Murder Mysteries

Ania Hobson, 2023. Courtesy of the artist.

Courtesy of Ania Hobson.

It can really vary. Sometimes it has to be a calm, relaxed atmosphere, or I can put on podcasts ranging from history or climate to murder mysteries. If I’m feeling too traumatized from the murder mysteries, I put on instrumental music with no lyrics.

I’m quite controlled when it comes to my working environment. I can’t be distracted too many times as it completely throws me off and I find it very hard to get back into the rhythm of things, so when I’m painting it really is “do not disturb.”


José Parlá: Cuban Energy

José Parlá in his studio, 2023. Photo credit Tyler Haft

Courtesy of José Parlá and Tyler Haft.

Part of my studio practice and inspiration comes from music, so there is often music playing and an atmosphere that provides the rhythm of the studio. It gets busy when you have exhibitions coming up and the photography, shipping, and packing stage starts to happen so I like it to keep things festive, so everyone on the team and visitors also enjoy being in the studio.

Sometimes I cook Cuban food as well so there’s always this kind of energy. Every day is different, sometimes I am in a quiet mood and paint alone for hours into the night.


Vladislav Markov: Soundtrack Silence

Vladislav Markov, 2023. Photograph by Inna Svyatsky.

Courtesy of Vladislav Markov and Inna Svyatsky.

Every device that I own that can play music is set on replay and yes music turns on while the coffee is pouring. I always listen to one song on repeat for about a week. After a day or two this sound becomes my silence. You really get to know a track after listening to it for a week. And it’s not restricted to techno… I do this with anything from rap, grime, soundtracks, and even/especially Steve Reich.


Fang Lijun: Road Tripping

Fan Lijun in his studio. Courtesy of the artist.

Courtesy of Fang Lijun.

I have two ways of working, one is working inside my studio, and the other is working during my travel. I love going on road trips, researching, visiting friends, and having gourmet food—it becomes part of my practice.

When I work, I mostly listen to history audiobooks. The artist is discussing the common concerns of human beings in his or her unique art language. For me, the creator and the viewer are not in opposition to each other.


Alannah Farrell: Cozy Community

Alannah Farrell, 2023. © A Klass.

Courtesy of Alannah Farrell and A Klass.

That depends on how I feel and whether I’m with people. With people, ideally, a cozy private space where conversations can flow easily or music of their choice if talking isn’t the vibe. When alone, I prefer music but will switch to podcasts at certain times.

These paintings, and maybe all my paintings, are a way to connect to the changing outside world, my changing mind and body, and the individuals I’m connecting with. A place to put complicated feelings. Inspiration is lived and, therefore, endless until I kick the bucket.


Adjei Tawiah: Creating a Home from Home

Courtesy of Adjei Tawiah.

Music really inspires, especially Ga highlife, and most notably Wulomei, one of my late mother’s favorite bands. The music really puts me in the right frame of mind for painting, and especially being here in Brooklyn, with that music and sunlight shining through the windows, I can forget that I am far from home.

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