If you close your eyes and imagine an artist’s studio, chances are you will picture a messy room. Perhaps its walls are stacked with canvases, or its floor a tangle of wires and cables, with teetering piles of books, all covered in the rubble of plaster casts. There’s a certain mystique attached to messy artistic types, as if true creativity is only possible amid chaos.
However, Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, sees artmaking and organization not as opposites, but as kindred pursuits. “The depth of concentration and the respect for materials involved in creating artwork is similar to the focus and connection with belongings associated with tidying,” Kondo tells me via email. As an undisputed expert on tidying, she should know. The Tokyo-based organizing guru’s books have sold over 7 million copies, and her consultations currently have a six-month waiting list.
Kondo’s trademarked KonMari Method is based on Japanese philosophy and unsparing minimalism: Any object that does not “spark joy” should be discarded. The desired result is that we will be surrounded only by things that inspire and delight us.
Because she believes that art and organizing can be simpatico, I asked Kondo to share her tips for how artists can better organize their studios. I also asked artists who work in a variety of media to weigh in on the challenges and rewards of what Kondo calls “the art of tidying.”