We are pleased to share the workspace of photographer Molly McCall
Please tell us about your work space.
I work both in a studio space at my home and just outside of it in the yard. The studio is connected to my house but it has a completely separate entrance so I can close the door and simultaneously shut the world out and barricade myself inside.
The space is made up of four areas- In the upper area I have a small darkroom, a computer and work station, flat files and lay out table. In the lower area, I have a large printer, dry mount press, art supplies, storage, books, and another large layout table. Outside, I use saw horses to support work that I collage, paint, and sand. The inside studio space also includes room for my dogs. Emma and Willy are with me all of the time and I refer to them as my “studio assistants”. They were proceeded by my two other talented assistants, Maggie and Kip
What objects of inspiration do you have in your space?
I am inspired by nature and all of its ephemeral wonder. My studio has two large glass doors at the front that I leave open rain or shine. This allows me to breath the fresh air and listen to the sounds of nature-birds singing, trees in the wind, nearby horses. When I work at night, when the world is still, my favorite sound is the river.
I keep a library of art books in my studio as well. I find inspiration in looking at all kinds of art- Painting, fashion, sculpture, collage. I have several artists’ books as well that I enjoy having close by to look at and remind me of the friends who made them.
The walls of the studio are somewhat sparse but I do hang a variety of my own work around the studio- photographs, paintings, and collages. The work inspires me to stay focused and keep going when I feel stuck.
Music is also a source of inspiration for me in the studio. While I’m in the darkroom I work in complete silence- Just the sound of running water and the fan but when I’m in the studio I play music. My current playlist includes:
Charlie Byrd & Laurindo Almeida | Brazil & Beyond ,Boz Scaggs | Memphis,
Cal Tjader | Speak Low, Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles
Hil St. Soul | Soul Organic, Van Morrison | The Prophet Speaks
Do you have any favorite tools in your work space?
Yes- My collection of rulers. Some of them I have had for more than 30 years. I keep them in a drawer in my flat file and use them on a daily basis. I also have an industrial rotary cutter that I couldn’t live without.
Does your work space influence your work?
It does in the sense that it provides a sanctuary where I can lose track of time and space and let the flow of my art ideas run uninterrupted and free. It also gives me a sense of focus that I would not be able to access otherwise; Life and the world are full of distractions so I covet my time in my studio space. It helps me stabilize my creative thoughts and having the space to leave my work out allows me to develop my projects over time.
If there is one thing you could change about your work space what would it be?
I would build a larger darkroom. I would love to be able to print larger fiber based prints to paint on. I would also make more room for ongoing projects and storage- I tend to hang on to materials and they pile up on me.
How do you keep track of your ideas?
I have always kept an art journal. My photographic process actually starts with drawing so I use the journal to record ideas and work out visually what I see in my head. I also use the pages to write thoughts, ideas, dreams, quotes, poetry- whatever strikes me in a sensory way usually becomes incorporated into one of my projects. Sometimes the pages become cluttered with objects- a swatch of fabric, an old playing card, a postage stamp, whatever catches my eye. I refer to the journals frequently and often go back and look at older ones to see what was going on in my head. They are an invaluable tool for tracking ideas and sparking new ones.
Any advice for someone thinking about adding a work space?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
I have created many workspaces both at home and in commercial locations. I couldn’t be creative without a designated space of my own. I have built darkrooms in all sorts of places as well, including bathrooms in my house, a garage, a barn, and even in a space without running water. My best advice would be that if you’re starting a studio plan from scratch, let your work habits lead the design of the space, rather than just the design coming first. It will save you time in rebuilding, and your space will actually support your process, rather than interfere with it.
Thank you Molly.
To learn more about the work of Molly McCall please visit her page at Molly McCall.