The role of the workspace in creativity

this is a topic oft on my mind.

i currently do 3 spaces in my homb:

one is just a piano in my living room (love)

one is the small bedroom converted solely to my studio use (work)

one is a back room (play)(yoga/meditation room) with a rhodes, moog source lil modular, pedals, drum machine but no computer back there. the back room and piano are downstairs so i mic run mic cable i just leave on the ground. mild clutter but not too bad. and i wirelessly remote control my studio desktop with my laptop via network that felt like a godsend when i figured that out.

my whole house then can become my studio. but 90% of main work is always in the small studio that is pretty rockin for me. definitely not professional ready but also definitely and exactly what I need to get play/work done.


I’ve always craved a workable, inspiring space… and especially a “setup”, as David Lynch calls it. I confess I’m envious of my colleagues where I teach who have their own studio spaces. I live in San Francisco, and it’s just not going to happen. I’m in a 10 x 10 basement room with a 6’3 ceiling, a warped floor, and no storage - which should be enough if all I did was music, but I have to make it do too many things: music, mixing other people’s work, film editing, color correction (which until a few years ago was my primary job), research for teaching and desk space for the admin work (I’m co-chair of our program so there’s a lot of that), storage of everything connected to all of this. My primary instrument is still piano - the tiny workspace with a laptop and a monome or the setup that fits in my backpack sounds SO wonderful - especially when I’m cursing out loud as I trip over cables while I move monitors and control surfaces for color correction or mixing to someplace on the floor so I can set up a couple of keyboard and find a place for the modular and midi controllers and mic. By the time I change setups, the inspiration is usually gone.

Someday, before I die, I’d love to have a space dedicated only to my own music and film work that can remain set up day to day. “Goalz” as they say…
But I’m lucky to have a room to work in at all given the horror of rents in the bay area now, and I try to remember that! And I know many of you make amazing work in much more restrictive and problematic spaces.

Oh, and a plug for standing desks: as a person with a chronic back condition, getting a standing desk in here was the best thing to happen to the space maybe for all time.

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I still feel inspired by the fact that it’s possible to take a laptop anywhere and make music. I really like working on the train, going from looking out the window to tinkering with the sound. Something productive there for me.

Laptop + lunchbox could be my future ideal setup. Though I work a lot these days creating sound materials on the modular and arranging these on the laptop - and that works well.


I’m saving up for a second pair, and in the meantime I move them back and forth.

And I expect that I’ll eventually try quad once I own four similar speakers.

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yeah, I understand, my day job revolves around the computer too, so having my main monitors there is what I did in the past and think I’ll be doing now.

I too use headphones with my synths/hardware most of the time, but I find it quite tiring after a while, not to mention the sound quality, good monitors will always beat good headphones :slight_smile:
Thanks for the feedback!

YES YES YES. I dream of a quad setup too. How sweet. I actually fell in love with wavefield rooms a long time ago. But yehh. Don’t see having one in my studio anytime soon :’(

Just curious, how do you move your monitors? Would you post a picture of your desk setup?


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Carefully! And infrequently.

Wondering if I’m alone on this but my workspace is the floor. While I do have more conventional setups for when I collaborate with others, I still like sitting on a cushion surrounded by my modular racks and laptop.


I’ve thought about this. I like sitting on the floor and have seen some lush pics of floor-based modular setups. But I have a question: how do you combat dust? I find without fastidious regular vacuuming and dusting my gear gets very dusty. Do you just keep things clean? Or maybe you’re just less sensitive to dust than me (wouldn’t be hard; I am very allergic unfortunately).



I keep covers on the gear. I cut silver mylar blankets to size to keep dust off and block the bright morning sun when I’m not using my gear. I also have air filters cranking anywhere I have audio gear cuz dirt is no friend to gear whether on the floor or on a desk! I find that without attention dust likes to mess with gear no matter where I have it.

So yeah I use the electric vac on the floors and use swifters and compressed air on any gear wherever it is.


i put towels on everything and try to hoover a lot.


I’ve been drawing comics lately (comic books and comic strips) almost to the exclusion of everything else. This is the space I made around that. Everything is in arm’s reach. There you see the cutting board I draw on, and next to my chair are things like my light table, cutting matt, and wacom tablet. The computer infront of me currently plays Superbad, The Big Lebowski, and sometimes Thor Ragnarok on repeat. And now that I’m working on projects with an end product (like comic books) I’m drawing pretty much every day.

Having these kinds of projects has really helped with the frequency with which I make things. Drawing comics means I’m back in the saddle with making creative decisions each day and working with materials each day, balanced with an absence of…over-thinking.

This work space grew organically for that. I needed/need to just make funny things or entertaining things so that I wouldn’t be overly critical with myself on other vectors. As you guys might have seen, I made this Julian Assange comic and I think it’s pretty funny…and that’s kinda literally all that matters. I’m not thinking about how it fits into any lineage or broader context. Though that kind of thoughtfulness is so so wonderful (I’m just not about right this second–I’d beat myself up too much right now.)

Also, I read A Confederacy of Dunces last summer so…that had an impact! What an amazing, funny, book.


pretty simple. this is all i need for the core component of my work (as long as i keep the surface free enough of clutter that i can either play solitaire & jot notes, or pull out any of the controllers etc with the laptop).

home-stacked standing desk for ADHD purposes. i can tell when i lose focus because i’m not in front of the desk, at that point. “chalkboard” + “bulletin board” for external storage, flow journal + structure journal for process. clip lamp for when i need brighter/more direct light (i hate overheads).

the bulk of my process is pen & paper, so that part is extra portable (i only do public laptop work if i absolutely have to). i find i’m able to catch different vibes/moods/states & thus access different ideas/images if i’m at a bar or cafe, and i occasionally enjoy co-working with friends in public, for the convo/contagion effect.

not pictured: chaise lounge for drifty idle daydreams, with or without drawing/writing. also, enough floorspace to stretch out & do some movement (or just alignment/relaxation). and a mega bookshelf/altar combo for good influences.


home-stacked standing desk for ADHD purposes. i can tell when i lose focus because i’m not in front of the desk, at that point. “chalkboard” + “bulletin board” for external storage, flow journal + structure journal for process.

as someone constantly strugging with ADHD, i don’t understand most of what you wrote here, but it all sounds very intriguing. would love it if you cared to elaborate on what all this is and how it helps you with focus!

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(edit: looks like i hit reply in the wrong place, so tagging @naxuu)

stay tuned for an ADHD/executive functioning topic, soon, (hopefully tomorrow), i’m putting one together that i hope will generate a lot of tips from other folks.

the “chalkboard” i have (it’s really just 18"x6’ of contact paper) has a month’s calendar where i notate coming events that aren’t habit or routine for me, a “job” section for tasks i need to remember, and a “next” section for…more personal tasks or ideas i want to explore.

the “bulletin board” is just cardstock pinned to my closet, where i stick post-its with “random” ideas or quotes that i don’t want to lose track of, yet. which may or may not get folded into whatever i’m making at the time (or next).

the journals are more difficult to elaborate on…the “structure” journal is something i’m still developing, which is pretty much a gamified/gamefully-designed “architecture” for both projects and self-development goals. it’s like superbetter + actionable gamification + RPGs + archetypal/depth psychology + neurolinguistic programming, but hopefully will be way cooler than any of those individually, when it’s actually implemented. (i will most likely document the f___ out of it on my website/blog when i’ve got a working model).

the “flow” journal is pretty much a stripped down bullet journal, focusing on daily logs, notes, drawings, etc. part of the idea is that things that really pop from that journal will get transferred to the structure journal to be crystallized & amplified, so i have more random access as opposed to the more sequential access of the flow journal…like…a file tree vs a list.

the standing desk is a couple of cheap two drawer file cabinets, a couple of boards, some milkcrates, to elevate writing & laptop surfaces to the point where i can work standing up. if i’m sitting at a desk, it’s super easy for my attention to drift without me noticing, so i can lose large chunks of time. for me, anyway, with my standing desk, if my attention drifts, i tend to walk away from the desk. which i notice much more quickly than just staring off into space, haha.

i hope that makes sense, and like i said, i’ll be starting a topic soon for more tips/experiments/etc.


I still live with my Dad (much to my embarrassment, but hey, the economy in my country is awful) so I have to do everything in my bedroom. I just managed to squeeze a tiny desk into the corner after spending years creating on my bed. It’s made SUCH a difference.


Necroposting here I realise but did you ever write up or expand on your journaling method? Sounds very interesting. I’ve had very nebulous thoughts along similar lines which I’m always trying to pursue and refine. But nothing I could truly pin down so far.