If you’re an independent artist, you’re familiar with the difficulties of finding a place to work. Quiet, dedicated studios for artists are on the decline as properties trend toward live-work development, cooperatives, or just plain overpriced studio spaces.
So where can you go to make art in peace? The answer might lie in your friendly neighborhood self-storage facility.
Can You Use a Storage Unit as an Art Studio?
The answer to this question ultimately depends on the type of art you make and the rules of the self-storage facility you are renting from. Depending on local zoning laws, a storage operator might not be allowed to let customers use storage units for anything other than storage. In other cases, laws and operators are more lenient and allow customers to use self-storage units as art studios, office space, gyms, and band rehearsal spaces.
Keep in mind that self-storage units are barebones. They do not offer many amenities you need for an art studio such as electricity or running water. They also do not provide proper ventilation if you are using chemicals, oil paints, or flame. Not to mention the only bathroom might be in the manager’s office.
Using a Storage Unit as an Art Studio
For a starving artist however, the affordability of a storage unit is alluring. If you find a facility that is cool with it, here are a few reasons that self-storage might make a good studio for you:
- Storage units are cheap. If your search for a private work space is limited by your wallet, self-storage might be the most appealing option out there. A self-storage unit big enough to work comfortably in (we recommend at least 10×10 to fit supplies, finished works, and yourself) can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than renting an art studio or loft. Meet with managers at different locations near you to learn about amenities and payment options. Some locations, such as Bridge Storage and Art Space, are flexible and might be willing to accept trades or services as payment in hard financial times.
- Storage units are secure and accessible. An artist who requires a flexible time schedule and peace of mind for completed works can rest easy in a self-storage unit. Facilities offering 24-hour access accommodate those late-night bursts of inspiration, while modern security measures standard in most storage facilities ensure the safety and security of tenants and their belongings. With that in mind, follow our guide to self-storage locks to make sure your art is secure when you leave. In addition, a storage work space provides a convenient place to store the works you plan to keep until they gain more value. Check out our artwork storage tips to keep those masterpieces intact.
- Storage units offer privacy. If you prefer the peace and quiet of a solitary workspace, then self-storage has the perfect setting for you. The majority of storage tenants don’t spend a whole lot of time around their units, so a storage facility is just about one of the quietest place around. For the same reason, you can feel free to blast your work playlist without fear of bothering neighbors.
- Storage units can be tax-deductible. If art is your livelihood, you may qualify for a tax break for your storage expenses. The 1040 has plenty of loopholes for work-related expenditures, and renting a self-storage workspace might count towards one of those loopholes. Check out the specifics to see if your situation applies.
- Storage facilities are a great source of inspiration. Any given storage facility has countless stories behind the stuff stored in its units. Is your neighbor a hoarder or an illegal boarder? Is there a musician down the hall, or maybe a terrifying demon lady? Whatever it is, your tenure with self-storage is sure to provide plenty of stories to feed your artistic output, as long as you keep your eyes peeled.
Setting Up an Art Studio in Self Storage
You might require electricity in your work space, but there’s a chance the facilities in your area can’t accommodate for this. Ask around, and if it doesn’t work out, consider investing in a battery-powered lamp, fan and/or heater to make your studio experience workable and comfortable. You can use re-chargeable batteries to reduce your environmental footprint, or try a solar-powered lamp that you can charge during the day and use through the night.
Choose a unit that offers enough space to work in, such as a 10×10 or 5×15. You might need a bigger unit if you need additional storage space for your art supplies and canvases. Add some cheap metal shelving to help keep all of your items organized.
Use a large worktable as your creative space. You’ll also need a comfortable chair.
Because there is often no ventilation in self-storage units, you may need to work with the door open. This is especially true in the summer time when temperatures soar. Even in a climate-controlled self-storage unit the temperatures may not be quite comfortable enough for long hours of human habitation.
Again, be sure to clear everything with the storage operator. Some facilities are happy to rent to artists as studios, while others will move to evict you and your art studio.