BUILDING A STUDIO in Jamaica From the Ground Up

Years ago my wife and I talked about one day having a “Factory" like Andy Warhol.  A space where creativity could flow, where we could experiment with ideas freely and collaboration was easy.  In our minds this was a distant future, but after moving to Jamaica on December 8th, that vision became a reality.

Originally we planned to use space inside my parents house to pursue our endeavors. We quickly realized that this probably wasn’t going to work because although my parents were willing to share their space, there wasn’t much space to share. During a family meeting my dad came up with the idea to build a space. Fortunately there was a bit of free land next to my parent’s home that was perfect to create that space.  By the next day we gathered some skilled workers from the neighborhood, mapped out a budget and starting moving at a rapid pace.

Although the studio was built in rapid pace (about 3 weeks), we still fell victim to the same troubles of most construction projects: we were over budget and off schedule. Here is a timelapse of some photos I caught along the way…

Once the studio was built we were anxious to put the Factory to work, but it wasn’t going to be that easy. The very first day we went to work it started raining and we discovered there was a leak in roof, and just our luck, it didn’t stop raining for 10 days. Instead of letting the creativity flow I spent all of my time managing the flowing waters that felt like the tears I wanted to cry.  On top of that, the closed windows trapped humid moisture in the  studio.  We had to move everything that could get moldy out the studio…more tears. The problems didn’t stop there but we did. The studio that had started with hope had led me to frustration. Luckily we had a trip planned where we were away for a week to rest our minds. When we came back my parents had resolved some of the issues and we had a new resolve.  

In the end, the drama was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to realize that building a factory is more than just building a space. You also have to “build” a space for collaboration, work, and creativity.  Here are some tips I learned for doing that:

  1. Collaborative partners are important: I invited my wife to use the space as her office for her Woolery Kitchen endeavors (http://woolerykitchen.com)
  2. Sit by windows: I felt so much more energy peering out into the natural light and landscape of Jamaica.
  3. Consciously make an effort to make the space inviting: make it comfortable, decorate, and have some snacks. 
  4. Dedicate a space to brainstorming: Maximize your zen.
  5. Organize the space like a conveyor belt: For me I had the space flow from ideation space  to supplies to a prep area followed by my creating space. My desk for office work is completely separate.
  6. Get some wireless speakers poppin’ because music is a muse.

Looking back on the obstacles I realized everything takes time and nothing comes easy.  Art consistently teaches me these lessons and this time was just like all the others.  Like with art you have to step back, look at the piece, then make tweaks to keep moving towards the right vision.

Welcome to our “Factory”.

I also got a question “Can I see your setup inside your studio?”  I’ll save that for another post because I’ve already rambled on enough…

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