CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN PAINTER | GABRIEL CHOTO
What is your definition of a studio space?
Definition of a studio, I define studio as a place for creativity. I would call it, in a way, an escape. It’s like an artist’s factory before they make things before it gets distributed, that’s how I view a studio space.
I think it depends on what you do, you could be sculptor, painter, designer, it definitely is personal, it’s like your own little bubble really.
Is having collaborative or communal spaces within studios would be something that’s beneficial to artists?
Yes, I feel like its definitely beneficial because as you’re creating your own work, you can start to see all your peers, see what they’re up to and you can kind of, it also motivates you to make even more work. I’ve been in a studio where it’s just myself, and a lot of the time as an artist you go through this stage, where you cant, you don’t really have any motivation, because you’re now like in this little bubble all by yourself, so if you’re not motivated you need someone else to be in that space, people that maybe even do different things so that it makes you think ‘oh they’re doing sculpture, let me try out a little bit of sculpture’ so I guess its kind of a social hub in a way, I do the importance of it.
How can we ensure that artists are going to be a part of the future within cities like London?
I think London in itself the art scene here is huge as it is, compared to lets say West Yorkshire, its not as in terms of, there is kind of its all about what type of art, performance, visual arts, London is, I know a lot of artists from up north that are moving down to London, its where the market is at. I can’t imagine that’s something that would die out.
Do you think because of the rising costs for studio spaces, that could impact the art community?
I know a few artists who I’ve known for a couple of years, they have studio spaces on the edge of London or outside of London, so they will just create there but they come into London to pursue exhibition spaces. I would say the cost of studio spaces is problematic, I would say so. I have had to enroll in a masters class because it’s cheaper to do a masters course for one year than it is to rent out a studio for one year.
Do you think that, because of artists moving further and further out of the city, that the art scene could become more underground?
I do think its kind of, already becoming that now, where I’m based in south-east London around Peckham, it’s really hard to find a studio space, there was this new thing called Peckham Levels, where if you sign up and your work gets selected, you get set up with a space then paying a certain fee a month. Spaces like that, they aren’t really as appealing to artists, due to the space being quite small and cramped and it’s in a car park, so, just that already seems very underground because whenever they have exhibitions you don’t tend to hear about it, I think its just the location.
Artist studios are one of the things that gentrify an area, do you think that artists would be willing to be part of financial districts once they become gentrified?
I think in time. From my own personal experience of being an artist, I tend to just learn to adapt to change even if it is the only option you have to go towards. I think people will just adapt. A city is something that’s always changing, so you would adapt I think, it would be alright in the future.
What do you think the future of studio spaces will be in London?
Mad expensive. I don’t know, I’ve never really looked at what artists as a whole and what would be their future. I always kind of see where my own direction will go towards, because I’ve always thought, in terms of exhibiting your work, London’s the only place right now, especially for my type of art that’s just where the market is. When it comes to actually creating work, I’m going to probably have to relocate outside of London, even just for a studio space. It will be one of those things, I’ll pack my bags and move, that’s how I view my own future. I can’t speak for everyone else.
I think some studio spaces, the Peckham Levels one for instance, if theres a system that kind of works with artists in terms of, having a space for a certain space depending on your application and the reasoning why you want that space, lets say a sculptor may want it for two months, you could send in that application and it may work for that lease period, but I’ve seen some places where they’ll do, you’ll have that space for one entire year, but a lot of these artists that have the space for a year, they don’t really use it, as much as someone that really needs the studio space. If there was a system in place that can work, for the majority of artists, definitely some kind of leasing system.
How could artists’ opinions be communicated to developers that were planning to build artists spaces?
I think it would be about gathering artists that are very passionate about studio spaces. Being truthfully honest, me being in the art world, I would say artists around my age they tend to complain about the lack of studio space, but when the option is there they don’t ever really use it. Even just for example, on my master’s course, there are so many people who do not come in, they don’t use the space as much as they should be using the space because it’s just there and readily available for them. I think it would be about finding artists who are truly passionate about having a studio space, and it’s much needed and they cannot create without it. I think if you had a good group of people, they could act as spokespeople for the rest. I think that could be the only way.
What is your personal vision for the future of studio spaces?
I think one thing I do envy about certain areas is that there are these art communities. They’re like warehouse rooms, where the artists do live there but it really is an artist community. Something like that, on a much larger scale and more accessible for all artists, because I feel like sometimes the resources are there, the studio spaces can be there its just the process that may not be accessible, in terms of travel and costs. The promotion isn’t there so not enough artists have heard about it.
Does the format of a conversation have to be that of a face-to-face interaction and how can we encourage free conversation between both artists and developers?
Are online forums the future of conversations to allow the collective to create the future of collaborative studios?