This took me far longer than I would have imagined, but my new studio is more or less complete and ready to work in. There are a few little things here and there I need to take care of, and I hope that the walls will gradually fill with art (mine and the work of others) but here is how things stand as of yesterday afternoon.
We are currently living in a rather large townhouse apartment, so the second bedroom will be my studio. We'll have an air mattress we can use for guests, and a lot of empty floor space for sleeping, but for the most part this will be a very functional work space. Here is what it looks like from the doorway. You can see the computer desk immediately inside and to the right (scanner and printer also), low bookshelf with art supplies on the far wall, the drawing table adjacent to that, a big beautiful window next to the drawing table, and peeking out to the left, a TV and television stand. One of the many things I love about having this space to work in is that, since this is a second bedroom, it has its own bathroom with a sink and a shower and its own closet for storage. It's kind of amazing.
Stepping inside and looking back toward the door you can see the computer desk, a cork bulletin board (it's surprising how badly I need something like that to keep things straight) and my other bookshelf, a tall Billy from Ikea. More on that in a bit. Oh, and to the left is a chair my wife insisted I buy, specifically to play videogames in. Hard to believe I am a grown man.
Standing in the same spot but looking a bit more to the left, another view of the low bookshelf and the drawing table.
And finally a straight shot of the drawing table, pretty much ready to go. Since I know I will be staring at that wall immediately in front of the table for hundreds (if not thousands) of hours in the future, I wanted to put something there that would both inspire me and mean a great deal. The art is a framed ink drawing by my wife, her vision of a Nazgul. I like it for many reasons, one of which is that to me it calls to mind the amazing illustrations that accompanied those early editions of the Susan Cooper book like Greenwitch and The Grey King and it just seems to have that early 1970s young adult fantasy vibe going on. That kind of thing is what really cemented my love of the fantastic and the bizarre and the wondrous and, of course, illustrated fiction in general.
I find other people's bookshelves fascinating, and if I am visiting someone who has books in their home, I will spend an inordinate amount of time just checking out their bookshelves. So, in the hopes that there is someone out there reading this who shares my fascination of bookshelves, here are some photos of one of mine. The books I chose to keep in the studio are the ones that mean the most to me, that have inspired me the most, or that I simply love to look at over and over and over. Although, I have to embarrassingly admit to the adjacency of another tall slim shelf of games for my PS3, PS2, Wii, Gamecube and 3DS because, really, videogames inspire me too.
Alright, let's look shelf by shelf, shall we? At the top, all of my Mervyn Peake books, from his collections of paintings and drawings to the Folio Society slipcased edition of the Gormenghast Trilogy to the Queen Anne Press edition of The Collected Works of Mervyn Peake. That Realms of Fantasy book might seem to not belong, but I include it because the book has a section on the Gormenghast books illustrated by the brilliant Ian Miller and that book is where I first discovered the work of Mervyn Peake, back in 1984 or so. Stacked on the top are some pieces of art that will soon be taken to the frame shop, my copies of the Peake Studies journal (very very highly recommended and incredibly easy to attain, just follow that link) and a few old issues of Heavy Metal magazine featuring some work by Moebius and Druillet.
The next shelf down is again taken up primarily by other Mervyn Peake books. Biographies, poetry collections, paperbacks and so on. Also my collection of fortune cookie fortunes, a copy of Captain Goodvibes: My Life as a Porkchop by Tony Edwards (a compilation of an Australian surf comic featuring said pig) and two sketchbooks.
Third shelf. I kept the shelves all themed based on authors, artists and publishers so I could easily find exactly what I might be in the mood for. From left to right, this shelf contains my entire collection of comics and art books by Philippe Druillet (most of which are in French but so gorgeous to look at that I don't mind), my entire collection of comics and art books by Sergio Toppi (all of the comics are in French, but again so amazing I don't mind although I think I should learn French at this point), and all of my Warren Publishing books. I was a big fan of the magazines Eerie, Creepy and Vampirella when I was a kid in the 1970s, especially because back then they were tough to find and were just forbidden enough to make reading them always feel thrilling and a little rebellious. I've been really pleasantly surprised at how well these have aged. Purely disposal, incredibly shallow and rather mindless entertainment, but taken at face value a great deal of fun. Incredible art too. That run of Eerie Archives was purchased specifically to get the Dax the Warrior stories.
The middle shelf. The big, giant books that fit nowhere else. On the left, those giant editions from Humanoids, including the oversize Incal books. Beneath those, the recently published facsimile of The Red Book by Carl Jung. The right stack contains the first wooden Paping anthology on top, a few more Sergio Toppi art books, Galactic Aliens by Alan Frank (a book I adored as a child), and three incredible French (again!) graphic novels, Saga de Xam by Jean Rollin and Nicholas Devil, Xiris by Serge San Juan (an amazing discovery by and gift from my wife) and a long sought after copy of Kris Kool by Philippe Caza.
Second to last shelf. Lots and lots and lots of 2000 A.D. books, mostly Judge Dredd but also A.B.C. Warriors, Bad Company, Nemesis the Warlock, Rogue Trooper and Slaine. There is a story here. I've loved comics, ever since I was young, but I've always been the kind of reader who was restlessly searching for something new. Some time in the mid-1980s a friend of mine discovered one of those mail order services, where you could essentially create a pull list, pay ahead, and have a big batch of comics shipped to you once a month. What blew me away about this service was that, for the first time, comics like Grendel, Tales of the Beanworld and of course Judge Dredd came into my orbit. I was smitten. I loved reading this stuff, especially in black and white, and I've had incredible fun tracking them down again in these new collections and re-reading them. The new stuff is quite good too. Okay, on the right, a small selection of books, arranged alphabetically by title, that did not fit comfortably on any of the themed shelves. The Age of Darkness by Philippe Caza, Codex Seraphinianus, some of those old 80s graphic novels like Metalzoic and Elric: The Dreaming City and Void Indigo, two Ian Miller collections of art and comics, two Odd Bodkins collections by Dan O'Neill, a gorgeous facsimile edition of The Ship That Sailed to Mars by William M. Timlin, A Tolkien Bestiary by David Day (some great Ian Miller work in there), and the weird Ulysses comic from Heavy Metal.
Finally, the bottom shelf. All Humanoids books (some definitely better than others) and my Moebius books, again mostly in French, but sometimes "silent" and always a joy to look at. One of my favorites is that big thick Moebius Oeuvres, a collection of every story Moebius ever had in Metal Hurlant magazine.
One more thing to check out. First, hanging over my art supplies shelf is this fantastic drawing by artist Daniel Anthony St. George 2nd of a Beholder from Dungeons & Dragons. There are a lot of personal elements to this piece as well which make it endlessly fascinating for me to look at. To the lower left, a small painting on board of Queequeg, commissioned by me from my good friend and one of the best artists in the world, Tom Williams.
First shelf, tons of art supplies, pens, instant camera film, and a photo of a handsome young man! Somehow I skipped the second shelf, but you can see hints of a more art supplies, a few paperbacks, and my Tonberry. Very important to me, that.
Bottom shelf, videogame guide books my old PS1 games, and a bunch of Japanese art and comic books, mostly by Taiyo Matsumoto and Hayao Miyazaki but also art books for the games Shadow of the Colossus and The Legend of Zelda series.
Finally, will this be the death of productivity? Will I while away the hours playing videogames instead of drawing when I should? Only time, and this TV with a PS3 and a Wii hooked up, will tell...