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This is something I've been thinking a lot about.  The fact of the matter is, as much as it's awesome, I don't work my best from home.  I want to be able to "go to work" in the morning, see people, do my thing, and then come home.  There are too many complications and distractions working from home, and too few opportunities to participate in the world as a human being.  And I know of co-working spaces, to be sure there are loads of options in San Francisco, but having visited a bunch of them, there aren't any just right.  I've always had a fantasy of starting a shared studio space, a small one, not a big vaulty warehouse style thing, maybe a half-dozen or like 8 people, not necessarily illustrators just self-proclaimed "nerds."  I love the idea of coming to work and seeing my (sort-of) co-workers, and then getting to "get down to business" with work that really matters to me.  We could have a little kitchenette, and a hangout area, and could ask each other if this-or-that comic sequence makes sense, or do you have an extra eraser, and have movie nights and stuff.  

Okay but the point of this isn't to go off on my weird fantasy thing.  I've always stopped myself from looking with any actual intent because the amount of effort into the "businessy" direction intimidates me terribly, and it's not like I have this huge untapped wealth of time (not to mention funds) right now to get something like this going.  So there are two sides one of which is: "Leela this is a fantasy, you don't have time for this nonsense."  The other is "Leela you are 22 and have more optimism and energy than you ever will again.  Probably this is the PERFECT time and frankly you've been having a streak of luck so why the hell not just look into it?"

The actual point is to ask you guys about your thoughts, experiences, opinions on shared working spaces.  For those of you who have worked in a shared studio or co-working space- what was good/bad?  Would it have been better/worse if it were specifically marketed to designers and other creatives?  For people who already work from home- is this an option you would consider?  Could imagine yourself enjoying?  Knowing that the usual going rate for a dedicated desk in a co-working space is between $425-500 a month, (in San Francisco, anyway, and trust me I also find this absurd,) what can you see yourself actually able to pay?  And while I'm at it, is there anyone in San Francisco who is looking for just such an opportunity?  

Can't say anything will come of this, alls I know is it's been on my mind and I value the input I can get from you all, so I might as well ask!!!
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Jakkels Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012
Here's a thought. With the internet turning our world into a global village it make life for artist (digital) a whole lot easier.
If San Francisco is to expensive, then consider moving where you can be creative, social and free of ridiculous rent prices.

I once quite my job as an animator and moved to Namibia to get some peace and quiet. Problem was that too much peace and quiet is also not good. Now I find myself in and open plan studio back where started. I think what you wanna do is perfect and well balanced. Just don't think you should limit your surroundings.
allyhodges Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012
Sharing a space with other artists has been the best for me, however, I do have a studio at home for when I feel like being alone. I think having both is great. If I need opinions and some company, the shared studio is best, but I find that if I don't have any alone time, I do go a little crazy.

If you pursue this, which I think you should, totally get a kitchenette. The shared studio that I'm at does not have one, I find that I get tired of brown bagging it, cold sandwiches are never exciting.
x-rain-check-x Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2012
I don't graduate for a year or two, but I'd love to be in a studio place like that. <3 <3 What a dream~
FollowLeLapinBlanc Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2012   General Artist
I'm in San Francisco but I don't think I will be able to jump right into a project all on my own/work on my own just yet. I definitely think next year could be possible though; just in case you are still looking in a year or so, I am absolutely down for this!!!
ashwara Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2012   Filmographer
Man i always wanted something like that myself! working by yourself at home can feel kind of glum and i think it would help focus to compartmentalize your daily routine by place ha ha.
KIRKparrish Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
i work from home and sometimes wish i had that shared studio space. but i find more often than not, the grass is always greener on the side. i like not dealing with traffic and all that nonsense. right now its ok.
fayrenpickpocket Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
When I was freelancing I wanted to do something like this SO badly! I wanted to separate my home space and my work space, because every day I was rolling out of bed, practically straight into my computer chair and then drawing all day, and rolling straight back. After a year of doing this I decided it was probably unhealthy and I should look to at least set work hours for myself and maybe look into renting a studio space, but I never actually got around to it.

Working in a game studio now, I realize how much I really was missing working alongside other artists and passionate people. It's motivating and refreshing in addition to just feeling more socially fulfilling.

Sometimes I still dream about doing this if I were able to leave my full-time gig~ and I wish you the best of luck! Reading this post makes me really wish I could, San Francisco is not that far from me. > u>
endofnonentity Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
when i went to art school all of the painters in my class shared a space. It was amazing. I am no where near as productive as I was when I had a bunch of other people around me to help my solve problems and inspire me! If i lived close to you i would be game haha. I've been looking around to try and find one myself. I just get nervous about who I would share it with. Hard decisions! Best of luck!
MissPaperJoker Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I would LOVE to do this.
And I agree. I just moved and my space is okay here for me to work from, but I would get much more done if I could "go to work" elsewhere and be home here. Itīs a head thing, but itīs true.
I say, do it. Search for participants or a place where people are already sharing space and join. Do it.
Nadiaenis Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I think there is only one answer DO IT!
instead of thinking maybe this is not the time and maybe this wont work out you should ask yourself 'do you really want to stop developing and taking risks at the age of 22?' Maybe it really doesnt work out but does that matter? the alternative is doing something you're not really happy with and at last all what matters are the experiences you made in your life. I think its always too early to press yourself into something you dont want, you always have the freedom of being stupid and risk something, and you actually have the duty to do so since not everyone and not in every country would be able to as you do. SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

As for own experiences, I moved to different cities a lot just because I felt like it and it always was the best choice. Now i am in berlin and created a studio with two friends, with a working place and everything and it is *good*. Its inspiring and fun and pushing and it dragged me back to life. This is what you miss isn't it? you will get it when you do that step.

Good luck *:
Frizelle Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2012  Professional
I work from home as well, I have a dedicated studio room in my house, so I know where you're coming from. It takes a lot of discipline for me to switch into 'work' mode when I go in there as there are so many distractions in the house.

I've also considered sharing a space with other creatives (much more affordable in Northern Ireland) as I feel everyone benefits from being surrounded by the creative energy in such places. As a compromise I try to get out of the house once a week or fortnight to a 'third place' where I meet up for a coffee or drink with mates and we bring our sketchpads. It means getting out of the house and interacting with people which is essential for my sanity!

In saying that I do love working from home, it means that when inspiration comes you can work all night and just crawl next door when it's time to sleep =)
ggns Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Professional Filmographer
This isn't really that relevant to what you're talking about but it reminded me of a thing I saw on Oregon Art Beat a while back [link] It's just fun to see people being so productive and having fun at the same time, I dunno :D
Caelinay Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, I haven't worked at a shared space like what you described before as an artist, but I guess you can compare it to working in an office. Not in tiny cubicles, I mean. It was nice because if I wanted to focus hard on what I'm doing I could just put on my earphones and listen to music as I work, but if I wanted advice or just wanted company I could always work while sort of having conversations with the people who had their station next to mine. It made my job a lot more fun :)
As to working in a studio in general as an artist, well I just don't see how I could make it work, technically. Most of what I do is digital, and well, I only have one computer for both art and other personal stuff that I like having close to me. Also I use the internet to research some stuff before I start drawing\painting sometimes... I guess you could take care of these things easily if you really wanted to, I just don't think it's worth the headache that much.. to me, anyway. :X
xRoxyryokox Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
When I was interning, my boss was telling one of his artist not to buy a studio because then you are stuck in paying for it every month and that can make art not fun because you have to make that extra money.
A lot of my art teachers are married to other artists and have an art room that they go into to paint together and it helps keep them close. Maybe you need a big place like that with friends?
I guess it also depends on if you want to work in the animation industry or not, because then you'd be with people all day.
mechacharibdys Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
I interned at Periscope Studio (comics professionals shared studio), and it was fantastic. I've been seriously looking into starting one, as I also hate working from home. Hopefully for no more than $200 a month.
toerning Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
Periscope is what first gave me the idea! It's been in my head every's wonderful to hear that it's as awesome as I imagine from someone who actually worked there!
mechacharibdys Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012
Actually, it's awesomer than that.

But more seriously, yeah, now that I've been introduced to that kind of environment, I've been trying to figure out how to found a smaller one.
jonmcnally Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2012
As a Portlander, Periscope immediately jumped to my mind, too. You should totally contact one or more of them (assuming you haven't already!), especially if you're interested in talking nuts and bolts. Hope you're soon able to make your ideal space a reality!
lilspoon Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I am a writer, and though I have to have a day job at this point in my life, a shared workspace is something I would LOVE were I ever able to write full-time. Personally I think it should be open to all types of "creatives." Though I write, my background is in art and I am very inspired by visual it would be wonderful for me to be able to see what my "co-workers" were working on. And, hey, artists -- you never know when a writer might be good to have around ;)

I'd say go for it. I know it's intimidating but you are right -- you are at a perfect point in your life when you'll have the energy to do this. Who knows where you'll be in a few years...this could be a missed opportunity you will wish you had done.

Oh how I wish I could do this! I am in SoCal but my heart is in San Francisco, and it's the place I want to live when I can actually afford it. If you ever do this, expect to be collecting money from me for a desk in like 5 years!
Marmotic Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
I have had mixed experiences with shared spaces, but on the whole i would say that the potential benefits of the experience far outweigh the risks.

The main disadvantages of a shared space often comes with and from the people who you are sharing with. With the wrong mix of people there can often be clashes of temperament, ego, and responsibilities which can drain a lot of the creative energies and break your heart just a little. However, the main advantages of a shared space often comes with and from the people who you are sharing with. The right mix of people allows for an exchange of ideas and influence that can drive everyone's work forward into new unexpected areas and in my opinion this potential far outweighs any negative niggles and nagging studio politics. All of this gets back to communication, but more about that in a second...

Having a work space separate from your living space is always good for setting the work and rest side of life apart . As much as i love to be working on things or to swept up in a flurry of activity i also think that this needs to be balanced by downtime where your mind can be left to calm and the ideas can stretch in their own time - having two separate spaces helps for this. However, having a dedicated and separate space in which to work does not always mean that you will work more, i know of a lot of people that maintain a work space but a very rarely found there as if somehow having a studio is a means to an end.

Speaking from experience i would advise that you treat entering or setting up a shared studio in a thoroughly professional and business-like manner, after all it is another step in your professional career. Be sure, as much as you can, of knowing what your putting yourself in for before jumping into things.

In terms of the actual studio space things to look out for would be light, warmth, ventilation, security, facilities, access and of course cost.

Light, can't work without that, natural or artificial?
Warmth, summer is a dandy but try working in an unheated space in winter, ouch!
Ventilation, not a massive priority until someone is working with oils/sprays/other headache intensive mediums.
Security, will your work, equipment, and more importantly you be safe in this space. (i have worked in some spaces which were free but not secure - its hard to work when youre jumping at shadows and noises at night).
Facilities, working toilets and kitchens are not to be assumed, and while you can get away without the latter, not having the former makes life difficult). Also, spaces such as lock-ups for equipment or a gallery space are bonuses.
Access, how far is this space from your apartment/house, what are the hours it can be accessed? You'd be surprised how these factors can impinge on the work ethos.
Cost, well, rent, studio fees, energy bills, and sundries can all add up.

Also, find out what is exactly what is expected from you and find out what rights and responsibilities you have as a studio participant, or if you are setting up a shared space try and work these things out with the other participants before hand - if possible put these things in writing to avoid confusion. These things may seem trivial at first but if everyone knows what is expected of their studio participation from the start then it helps them work with peace of mind and it can also help to smooth over any potential misunderstandings later on.

This is where communication is key - good communication leads to mutual understanding which guarantees a rich and respectful exchange for the participants.

As i said before having a studio does not guarantee that you will work there, but making sure to minimize on potential negative points from the off will give you a good start and help you to make your space a wise investment of money, effort and time.

Go for it if you can and i wish you luck.
juliakrase Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Professional General Artist
I've been looking for something like this as well. Have you tried looking at oakland? SF is so close and with bart it's pretty easy to go back and forth. Rent is much cheaper out there as well... just a thought.
mlauritano Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Professional General Artist
You should totally go for it! There is no reason to wait to do something like this, when you passionately believe in it. My only problem would be the cost--as another Chicago (amazingly affordable space here) commenter said. But if you have enough people in the cheapest space you can find, it's gotta lower the price per desk somewhat, right? Call me cheap, but I don't think I'd go for anything that was more than $250 a month, if it's just a cubicle... maybe I'd pay more if there was some kind of group exhibition opportunities...?
noriko-kikhio Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I have yet to work in a collective studio space, as I prefer my apartment space away from school and the distraction of classes and classmates.

However I have met a few artists in the city who have shared with me about their collectives. My favorite is a place called RAID Comics in Toronto Ontario. I don't know if there's a lot about it online. I believe it's somewhere from six to eight people sharing a one room area all with their own drafting tables and work spaces, openly surrounded by other illustrators. There's a variety. Indie artists, DC and Marvel artists, etc. It sounded great because they could bounce ideas and opinions off one another about their work and often would end up gaining a new perspective or approach to it that they never thought of before.

As for the rent, if you all have generally steady work, there's no reason you can't keep it up. Just don't let it sit on one person's shoulders, i.e. yours. That's my say at least. As previously mentioned, I've never done it, but perhaps searching for the folks to make up your collective studio might make a good start?

I hope it works out for you, sounds like something you really want.
perushinkov Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Though I'm not an artist, in my profession I too need to get away from home to actually do a decent amount of work. I've been working from home for the last 6 or 7 years (Yes, I know that I am just 20) and I have to say that it is quite stressful and inefficient. Why so? Because I need to keep work and leisure time separate. And that different environment certainly helps me switch into a more organizes state of mind. Also when you have co-workers you get more eager to compete and share ideas and your productivity rises unimaginably (at least for me that is so). In my last year of school though I had passed my exams I kept going to it it all the way to the other side of the town simply because I had gotten used to working there. Good luck making your choice and do not be afraid of investing in that shared space option. It can pay off!
Farlo Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Aww I was living in San Francisco a few months ago, and I would have loved to do something like this! I looked so long for a group of determined illustrators/artists to work along with. I really think that this is an excellent idea for anyone in the area.

I'm living in Berlin right now, and from what I have seen groups of people rent out buildings for co-op spaces (compared to SF its way cheap). They hold parties and host events at these places as well to probably curb costs. The one art co-op that I've been to hosts art classes from time to time.

Do it do it do it! So if I come back to SF I'd love to join :D
moonlitmontage Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh man, if only I lived in Cali I would absolutely love this idea. Seriously, I really wish I lived in San Fran right now.
TuesdayNightCompany Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012
It sounds really good, an excellent way to work. I can't say that you're gonna get a better price on the studio space in a place like SF, but truly, if you're not gonna do it now, when are you?
Break your mold.
balnibarbi Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I personally would love that...
Silvertide Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012
I'm in San Francisco, and I've been having similar thoughts of getting studio space to do my personal work, but...

...yeah, San Francisco rent prices for a space just to do art are... :(

Right now I'm lucky enough to be living with family without worrying too much about the cost of rent, but it's not exactly ideal for making artwork. It takes extra willpower to make art happen in the space you live in too (and then there are the people I live with just... living in the space with me, lol)! It would be ideal to separate out the two somehow.

When I was in art school some of my illustration professors (all of whom were long time working illustrators) would do their art from home, some in spaces rented out just to do art. I think how well it works depends on how well you get your space working for you and what you can afford. Also, if I were to rent out studio space with other people, who to rent out with would be a factor too.
athas Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012  Professional Artist
I'm the exact opposite of you. I need my solitude; anytime I'm trying to work around other people, I get irritated and distracted way too easily, and I never get quality work done.
toerning Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
I've known working-in-group situations on both ends of the spectrum, which is why it's so important to me to be able to really build the kind of atmosphere I want. For instance, when I was working in a game design studio, I was CRAAAZY productive, and loved the work! On the other hand, working in a room with a bunch of other distracted, irritating and inconsiderate students has been, on multiple occasions, my worst nightmare. I really think the main difference was that, even when messing around at the game studio, everyone would go back to their desks and get back to working on a project they cared about, so my main motivation is to find people who do work they love, as a job.

That was long. Anyway, thanks for your input, I quite agree! (sometimes ;)
driakos Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Maverix studio in SF had the vibe you were looking for. I think they are all scattered now though. They might still be there, at Rhode Island and 16th.

I would rent studio space if possible, simply for the increase in productivity I'd get, AND having people around to inspire me. I'm just clueless on how to find something like that.
toerning Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
I looked them up, and it looks like they're (now) an actual studio that you hire to do design work for them. I was thinking more of a collection of professionals who have their own things going, you know?

Yeah, all those benefits. It would be great. *sigh*

Well I'll keep ya posted! Thanks for the input
driakos Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ahh they do.. did at least. Have their own things going too. I think the 'group' thing was just an additional way to market, and a way to communicate w/ gallery shows. I dunno it looked awesome. Everyone had their own space, but there was a common space too.
89ravenclaw Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012  Professional Filmographer
I know some people in SF who were renting out a room from within another studio, so subletting? Not sure if it made it more affordable or not.

It's certainly a good idea, a lot of people do it, and you should do some more research. The only real problem is that SF costs way too much, especially considering the quality of a lot of the older buildings.
toerning Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
Right, there are certainly places like that, but those spaces tend to be louder and more industrial feeling, and since the spaces are often separated by walls that don't reach the warehouse ceilings, they feel sort of exposed.

I know, it is freakishly expensive. But I've sort of resigned myself to it. It's where I live, I love it, so I gotta make it work somehow.
89ravenclaw Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Professional Filmographer
yeah, i used to live there too, so i totally get that
DNA-The-Authoress Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012
I would totally love to share a working space with you! Unfortunately, I'm a broke full-time student in another part of the state, sooo.... I can't. D: The only work-space sharing I've done is 1.) in an art class, and 2.) with my best friend, but that's usually at her place or mine, so it's still from home...

So yeah, I have no experience in that, but it sounds awesome!
toerning Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
Haha don't worry, I know that feeling! :heart:
DNA-The-Authoress Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
lifth Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012
I haven't personally had any experience with shared studio spaces but I would love to try one out at some point, I'm not in San Francisco sadly but...I have a link to a podcast that might pique your interest. :)

It was an interview done by Guys with Pencils with Henry Faber who started up a shared studio in Toronto called "Bento Miso". Its more of a drop in and work place with different events and stuff going on. Hope it helps or at least gives you a bit of insight on the business side of things. When I end up moving a bit closer to Toronto I plan on checking them out for sure.

Guys with Pencils' Podcast: [link]

Bento Miso's website: [link]
toerning Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
Right, unfortunately the "drop in and work" thing is what I found off-putting about so many of the co-working spaces. I know why they do it and why it might be appealing to some workers, and to be frank it's going to be hard to get around in terms of cost, but my fantasy is to find a group of people I like enough to get to know and be comfortable working around and asking for their opinions and stuff. Drop in and work places tend to feel, to me, like dirty libraries with coffee-- people coming in just need a quiet place to sit and type or read, as opposed to a place to spread out, get into it, ask for help, mess around, and still get loads done.

Thanks for the links, as I am certainly keeping my mind open, I'll check it out!
lifth Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
You could always try a drop in and work model to start and let it evolve from there to offset costs.

Or some sort of half and half scenario where you set up half of the studio space for a limited number of people to rent 'permanent' desk space and act as your core crowd so to speak and the other half of the studio space is for drop ins who may eventually turn into permanent residents of the space.

I think one cool thing Bento Miso has going for it is setting up events within the space on off hours, like workshops related to what you would like to learn/teach/discuss, non art related activities, gaming/movie nights, trying out games members are creating stuff like that. I believe they charge for the events so that may be a potential way to offset costs and start out as a pure co-working space with out drop ins.

In the long run it will be your business model to start and evolve in the direction you want to go in, so if it ends up starting off as a drop in there is no way it has to stay as just a drop in space, you may meet people that become regular drop ins you could fulfill your fantasy studio space dream with. :)

I'd love to see how this all pans out, and I wish you all the best with it. I may not be in the area but if you need to pick anyone's brain about it I'd be more than happy to help out however I can.
austerblitz Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012  Student
Wow, San Francisco? Didn't you go to RISD? well, that's not the point, I've had all my art education here on the west coast (RISD even) and in 20 days I'm moving to SF to start actually art school at SFAI.
They have shared studio spaces for seniors and grad students - without a warehouse vibe. You could look into that. My representitive for the school tells me that by the time I'm in my 2nd year I could share a warehouse in oakland or whatever with other artists.
I'm going to be arting in SF in just under a month. I will be looking for the same thing, so if I find it, or if you find it, wanna let each other know?
toerning Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
Hah, yeah, I did, and then I needed a change! Keep me posted, I'll keep you posted, and good luck at SFAI!
anklesnsocks Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Dude, you are 22?! what in the what

well, coming from calarts, i pretty much spent 4 years in a sort of studio environment. we all worked in cubes, but in a giant open area. so besides not being able to see the people, you can still fully hear and experience them all around.
This was good if you lucked out and got people around you that you actually liked. everyone got to pick where they wanted, so sometimes you got stuck next to a large group of people that annoy you.

so like, besides the occasional times where people did social hour and were just hanging out being loud, we'd have some awesome concept and theory jams where we all just talked and pitched and helped each other out. which when in a time of need, really helped. everyone would help everyone else out a bit. rift, change, share. it was a good communal process for those that took part. It helped that we were all trying to achieve the same goal: make a short film. people would easily get lost in their own heads sometimes and lose sight of something, and then a friend who is perhaps better at something else, would point it out and get you back on track.

it also helped a lot with peoples own work ethics and confidence. I can't count how many times ive seen a student just crack under the pressure and give up. having the other students around going through the same ordeal helped get them back on focus.
toerning Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
23 this month, ugh, I'm a granny.

Right, I can see that. It's funny, I always avoided working "in studio" at school, preferring to work from my room, but that was also at a time when stepping outside meant running into dozens of other artists, whose opinions I could as if I ever wanted to, which was also rare. The spaces were huge, the cubicles were small, you never knew who was there, who was going to come over and bother you. But I think in a smaller space with a group of people you KNOW and hopefully like. Well I'm just going off again.

"yes" to everything you said, and I think we would have to arrange like, 9-5-type "working" hours, and fuckaroundery could go either in a separate space or outside of that time. Hmmm

Thanks for the input!
jbsdesigns Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012
I agree with what your saying for having a studio space to work in. Working from home can get really stagnant. I think it would establish a great creative atmosphere to do art with others like you while having fun as well. I'd go in it with you, but unfortunately I live in Los Angeles, but I wish you the best of luck setting one up where you live.
toerning Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012
I agree with you- the atmosphere is really important to me and no matter what you do there's too much in the way (roommates, neighbors, cats, chores) at home to really make it possible. Thanks very much for the input!
fusspot Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Unfortunately I'm in Chicago so I can't help in the actual "sharing a space" part, but I can tell you that it's worthwhile to have a work space that's completely separate from home. Bonus if it's one that's filled with people off of whom you can bounce ideas, and from whom you can ask immediate opinions about whether something works or not. Under many eyes all bugs are shallow, and art is no exception in my opinion.

($425-500 is pretty damned harsh, though, but I realize SF is pretty pricey. Nonetheless, my condolences.)
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