When we launched our business last year my mom and I desperately needed a creative space that we could call our own. Our checklist was a mile long. Forced to leave a place we both adored (Montreal Art Center) due to endless traffic headaches (a whole other story) our new studio needed to be close by. It also needed to be big, affordable, bright, quiet, safe, inspirational, functional, zoned commercial….the list goes on and on! We had visions of painting together in a giant, beautiful artist loft surrounded by other creative types with gorgeous views and great coffee shops all around us. We knew at the time that this was never going to happen but hey, dreaming is free right? Fast forward to a year later and here we are….in our little creative space located in beautiful Valois Village and we couldn’t be more pleased.
I remember the first time I walked down the main street in Valois looking for a place to rent. The village had a friendly feel to it and a chill vibe. Local shops, happy people, easy to get to and the home to of one of my favorite pubs ‘Kelly’s’; I was starting to feel good about Valois! When I got to the end of the strip just in front of the Valois train station I looked up and saw an ‘à louer’ sign and thought to myself “could this be it”?
Sometimes things just magically fall into place and this was one of those times. The space was not everything we had dreamed of but it certainly had huge potential. It was close, affordable, very bright, quiet, safe, zoned commercial and located in a wonderful old building with ample parking, great neighbors and an amazing landlord. Having our own studio was truly a dream come true and before we knew it we had signed a year lease and were busy making plans to make it our own.
Organizing our studio so that it fostered creativity and enabled us to make the most out of our time there was challenging. Firstly the light; all the windows were covered in old dark sticker decals that were ugly and blocked our view. It took days to get everything off and my hands suffered for it but the end result was very satisfying; clean windows and a beautiful view of Lac Saint-Louis.
Secondly the walls; they were purple, dirty and littered with old wiring and phone outlets. It took a full week of cleaning, plastering, painting and fixing to get everything wonderfully bright and clean. We painted our walls in a pale grey so as not to distract from our paintings and installed a professional picture hanging system so as not to damage our newly painted walls. We all chipped in and luckily my handy dad was available which saved us a ton of money and time.
The floors were already damaged so we decided to leave them as is…one less worry knowing we would damage them even more with our paint! The only other critical piece of the puzzle was a work sink. No sink in the space and using the public washroom was not an option (our fellow tenants would not have been impressed). But yet another magical thing happened here….there was already plumbing in place as the space had once been a Hair Salon – win win! The very next day we went out and purchased a work sink from Home Depot, hired a plumber to install it professionally and voila…we had ourselves a working studio and a sink which makes a world of difference when it comes to cleaning up.
Lastly the essentials! Since there were two of us sharing a small space we decided to only bring in the supplies we absolutely couldn’t live without and made excellent use out of our one storage closet. We both have a desk and the rest of the easels and work tables we share. Everything is lightweight and portable which makes it easy to re-arrange for various events or simply to follow the sunlight.
After weeks of hard work we were ready to move in, just in time for our first pop-up – another huge benefit of having our own space to work in! It’s been so nice to have a real venue for people to visit and try things on, if you are ever in the area please stop by! And although it was never our intention to showcase our artwork that’s what ended up happening; our studio now looks like a cross between a workspace and an art gallery and that’s ok! It’s inspiring to see so much color on the walls and nice to have a place where people can see our paintings and wearable art displayed in a professional manner.
It’s now been four months since we’ve moved into 17 Valois Bay Unit 202D and we absolutely love it! It’s given us extreme motivation to make our business work as we really don’t ever want to go back to not having an art studio. The benefits to our lives as artists are enormous. It’s given us a great work-life balance and made it easier to switch gears in the sense that when you are at the studio you are in full-on CREATE mode…when you are at home you can focus on your life and your family. It’s helped our business, helped us focus and helped bring us closer together as mother-daughter working side-by-side in our own personal creative space.
Thanks for reading! What is your perfect space and how did you or will you create it? Please comment below, we'd love to hear!