Living or sharing studio space with a significant other is, when possible, a handy strategy. Artist duo
. share their 1,100-square-foot studio on the Bushwick/Ridgewood border, a relatively affordable neighborhood, but one which has been gentrifying over the past decade. They also share anything else they can.
“Instead of having two studios and paying two rents we share one; we also live together in one apartment and eat the same food at the same time,” they said in a joint emailed response. “We share our assistants and also materials, and of course our creativity as well, as we started to collaborate together here in New York City.”
For artists without a significant other, sharing studio space with a friend or peer is another option. Mixed-media sculptor and installation artist
shares a massive 5,000-square-foot studio in Mt. Vernon, Yonkers, with fellow artist and filmmaker
, paying $2,000 for his half of the space. In order to offset this relatively high studio cost, Scherer opts to live in the Bronx’s West Farms neighborhood rather than the more typical Queens or Brooklyn:
“The rent is cheap and it takes 10 minutes to commute by car to my studio, which enables me to get all of the supplies and fabrication in an area with very little traffic and lots of suppliers,” he said. There are some downsides to living in an area that does not yet have a large artist community. “Nobody knocks on your door to hang out, but you can still go to Manhattan for meetings, openings, or to have fun and meet friends.”
In these examples, the artists with the largest studio spaces tend to be those who are already making a living from their art, meaning they have the means and incentive to invest in such a space for production. Citarella, who works from home, said the instability of artwork sales doesn’t currently allow him such a luxury.
“Sales from commercial galleries are unreliable; this year it was over 50% of my income, and last year it was only 5%,” he said. To supplement his income, he works as a freelance photo retoucher for most of the week and by selling artwork online through the Etsy shop UV Production House
, with fellow New York-based artist
. The model requires buyers to assemble the work after purchase, sparing him the necessity of having a space in which to build the work.
The artists all noted how challenging it is to live in New York financially, but pointed to the wider breadth of opportunities for artists that make it worth the hustle. Scherer, who has previously been based in London and Berlin, sees New York as the highest-risk, highest-reward city for artists, because artists tend to sell more in New York than in Europe, he said.
“I think in New York, you can go the furthest, but it might be the toughest as well,” he said. It’s a great place to cut your teeth, but at the same time, it’s also such a tough place to get any recognition and to really sustain a practice if you are not making any money from it yet.”