Oh No, Mixed Media by Steffanie Lorig
Oh No, Mixed Media by Steffanie Lorig

My husband was running out of time at his job. They were going to close his department and he had limited time to figure out the rest of his life. He had been teaching at that school for 21 years and now he had to start over again.

He called me at 4:30 in a panic, sending me into problem-solving mode. During the car ride home, I came up with a plan. I knew if I didn't get him to agree to it that day, the window of opportunity would shut forever. I sat him down as soon as I walk in the door and I told him The Plan That Would Make Everything Alright.

"We are going to make two investments before the money runs out. The first thing we're going to do is get the basement ready to rent (just in case). Then we're going to find you a career coach to help you through this," I spoke the words carefully as I held his hand, knowing that at any moment, he might crumble or bolt.

"The Look" showed up on his face right away. I couldn't tell which of the prospects horrified him more - a stranger living in our house or spending money on a career coach. We stood a very real chance of losing the house - especially if he couldn't find another job right away- since renting in Seattle can be more expensive than owning in many neighborhoods. With my nonprofit life and his teaching career, we were barely hanging on as it was. So he reluctantly agreed.

Create, Mixed Media Collage by Steffanie Lorig
Create, Mixed Media Collage by Steffanie Lorig


We got busy figuring out what we needed to do to get the space ready. He worked it out in SketchUp - because he's just awesome that way. He picked up everything from Ikea and worked on it on weekends, secretly hoping that what he was building was going to end up becoming our art studio.

We found a career coach who had a marketing background – someone who could understand the creative mind. They met about six times, with lots of phone calls and emails in between. She buoyed up his courage, reviewed his LinkedIn profile, and helped edit his cover letters and resumes. 

All his hard work paid off. He got a job at a University (yeah!) and now we have a studio space that we are fully utilizing (although his next basement project is going to be a man cave media center). 

I don't know why I this surprised me, but now that we have an actual studio space set up, I am doing art again on a regular basis. It's absolutely thrilling. I've had a few people over for art and chocolate dates, which just adds to the glorious satisfaction of the space. My husband uses the space for sketching and sometimes just for organizing and spreading things out.

If you, like me, had to do art on your kitchen table in between meals, guests, and life, I would encourage you to try to find a more permanent spot. 

Nothing kills creativity faster than having to put your supplies away so you can eat spaghetti with your family. Or, if that's not possible, do what Mike Kerr does - pack a briefcase with art supplies and take your show on the road. Coffee houses, libraries, cafes are usually willing to put up with you if you buy something every once in a while. Don't let space limitations limit your creativity. I did for far too long and now I am making up for lost time.