October 23, 2020

The Art of Organizing Art Supplies


By Alyssa Dyar

paint canI don’t know about you but instead of getting my act together during this pandemic and making my house and work spaces spectacularly organized and functional, it seems I’ve done the opposite. There are piles of half-finished projects all over my house, and porch, and garage, and backyard. It’s a mess and as messy of a person as I am, I have my limits.

I’ve realized I have two choices in this dilemma:

  1. Clean-up my act
  2. Live with my mess

I can’t live with the mess.

So I’m devising a plan to organize my art spaces. And I’m going to share this plan with you because maybe you are having a similar problem; swimming in all the clutter of ideas gone by the wayside, because even though there is so much time, there is so little time!
Turns out there’s probably plenty of time and just not enough spatial organization.

Am I the only one who couldn’t see this? I’m going to share the art of organizing art supplies with you.

The Art of Organizing Art Supplies

  •  Throw away trash—just throw it away. If you have to ask if it’s trash, then it’s trash. Make this judgment based on your perception of what trash is, not someone else’s.
  • Create piles: have a system of piles that makes your heart soar. Make piles by material, medium, color, etc. and always have a giveaway pile. You can put it in a cardboard box on your sidewalk and label it “FREE.” Make someone’s day.

art of organizing art suppliesNow you have a bunch of piles. What next?

  • What kind of setting do you want your materials to live in? Do you want to cover up your materials, keep them hidden out of sight, safe? Or do you prefer to have them out in the open, easily accessible, and flaunting their possibilities? Or a combination of both—maybe a clear storage bin? With a lid or without a lid? There are many paths to take with this decision. I bid you good luck on the journey.
  • Once you’ve chosen a storage mode, start putting your materials away. You may want to put them away according to the piles you’ve made or you may realize you want to change the pile system. Don’t be afraid to change the pile system.

Retaining the Organization:

  • Be accountable for your materials. If you take them to a sink to wash them, make sure you bring them back to their home once they’re dry.
  • Give yourself time to clean up. Be respectful to your future self. Clean up your workspace when you’re finished for the day so that when you come back to work, you can easily get started.
  • When in doubt of everything, when the world is cluttering around you, there is always the practice of knolling. Thanks to artist Tom Sachs there’s a video to help you get started:

And if all of this has no resonance with you or makes you feel so mad that yet another person is reminding you to clean-up and get rid of things, here is an article that praises the practice of keeping clutter by Christine Speer Lejeune.