How to Find and Rent an Art Studio ~ by Maria Benner

Most artists dream of having an art studio, but finding the perfect space, not to mention paying for it, can be a challenge. We finally decided to get serious about moving Scott’s art studio and my work stations out of our small condo after several years of working at home. As the art business grew, work-related stuff encroached into our living space, making it look cluttered, no matter how hard we tried to use every nook and cranny. Scott was limited on the size of paintings he could make, but the final straw happened when a news reporter asked if she could interview Scott in his studio, and we had to say no, because the entire room was full of stuff, and pretty much blocked by an 8 ft x 4 ft painting support. So we started to look for a studio space seriously. Here are the steps that led to us moving into the perfect space about a month after we made the decision to do it.

  1. We contacted a commercial real estate broker and let him know exactly what our ideal studio should have, such as a sink, no carpet, ample natural light, close proximity to our home, about 400 square feet, and not too expensive. He sent us a list of four properties that were all warehouses. The smallest one was about 900 sq feet, and way above our budget. So we thought we would just have to wait until something better came along.
  2. We started telling everyone that we were looking for a studio. One day, as we were working at a craft fair inside the 4th Avenue Market Place, the property manager stopped by our booth, and during our chat we told him that we’re looking for a studio. This is how we found out about the space we ended up renting. It wasn’t even available for lease, but the property manager knew that it would be available in about a week. The room is 384 sq ft, with a sink, a full wall of windows, and a linoleum floor. The location is within a short bike ride, or a pleasant walk from our condo. We told him it was perfect!
  3. Then we talked to other tenants in the building and asked them about how well it’s managed, how much they pay in rent, whether they like it, etc. This is when I realized that the rent is negotiable.
  4. Next came the negotiations. I offered a price that was $45 lower per month than asking, based on what I had heard from other tenants. The offer was accepted, but then I found out about additional charges for janitorial and advertising. So I submitted another offer that was $25 lower than the first, in order to avoid paying those fees. The second offer was also accepted.
  5. The hardest part has been finding insurance. The lease requires the renter to have liability insurance naming the building owner as insured. I had to get several quotes, all of which were too high, because they were for way too much insurance that I didn’t require. We’re still waiting for a couple quotes, so that hasn’t been finalized, but we were allowed to move in while we’re looking for insurance, which will likely cost about $600 per year.
  6. On the day we signed the lease, we looked at the space closely, and made notes about existing damage spots, checked all the outlets, light fixtures, door locks, etc. Everything checked out, and we were able to move in that day.

So that’s how we found our studio. Working outside our home has increased our productivity, and now customers can come to the studio to pick up paintings, which looks more professional than our condo. We’re thinking about hosting painting classes in the studio for kids and adults, and the next time a reporter calls, we’ll gladly accept the interview in the studio.

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