Wednesday 11 February 2015

Book Review: Studio Life

Reading about the new exhibition at the Barbican, Magnificent Obsessions: the Artist as Collector (which looks pretty darn awesome), I thought "this reminds me about that fab book I got sent to review about artists' studios and collections!"... followed swiftly by the horrible realisation that "OH MY GOSH I NEVER REVIEWED THAT BOOK!"

You see, I got sent a review copy of Studio Life: Rituals, Collections, Tools and Observations on the Artistic Process by Sarah Trigg aaages ago (it came out in the autumn of 2013!!). I took some notes for my review, took some photos and then somehow forgot to actually write the review. Ooops. I will take that "world's worst blogger" award now, thanks.

So, it is FINALLY time for me to review this book! Here goes...

Artist Sarah Trigg embarked on a fascinating project where she toured the country (the US) visiting her fellow artists in their studios, chatting to them about their creative process and artistic practice and photographing their "curiosities".
Studio Life features 100 of these artists, from painters and sculptors to photographers to video and performance artists. There are no "general views of their studios", portraits or photos of their artwork (except for one small image per artist in the index at the back of the book). Instead there are weird objects and collections, mascots, homemade tools, and lots of messy leftovers from making. 


After the introduction explaining the history of the project, the book contains 1-4 pages per artist with some text about Sarah's visit to their studio and photos of the objects that caught her interest.

Although lots of the photos are visually very interesting and the book itself is gorgeous and glossy this is not a coffee table book of pretty, stylish studio tours!

As one art critic (Barry Schwabsky) puts it in one of the blurbs on the back of the book, "the studio can be an externalized brain, a machine for thinking and doing" and Studio Life is pretty much a whistle-stop tour through the brains of 100 different artists.


It is completely fascinating reading about all these different artists' working processes and the stories behind the many and varied objects featured. I have to admit that I don't really like a lot of contemporary art but I am very interested in makers and making and inspiration and the creative process - though of course the things I make are very different to the kinds of things being made by these artists!

Sarah writes so well about each studio visit and the stories behind the objects she features. I've so enjoyed dipping in and out of this book to read about all the artists, their rituals and tools and habits and obsessions. In fact I'm actually now totally hooked and am working my way through the whole book, cover to cover, reading the interviews one by one.

Studio Life is published by the Princeton Architectural Press. RRP £21.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

Please note: I was sent a free review copy of this book. The Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links.