Work From Home

Heading inside the home studios of some of our favorite local artists

BKMAG_ARTISTHOMESTUDIO_MALENE06 copy
Douglas Elliman is New York City’s #1 brokerage and continues to grow with local offices across Brooklyn. Look for us in Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene, Ditmas Park with Bedford-Stuyvesant coming soon.

Why go to an office when you can live in your office? From musicians to fashion designers to visual artists, more and more creatives are choosing to take their work home. All it takes is time, ingenuity, and the ability to work within a small to space to set up your own home studio—and then you never need to leave the house again.

Brooklyn Magazine recently invaded (well, visited) the spaces of some our favorite artists. Whether you want to make jewelry or mix an album from the comfort of your own place, let their workspaces inspire you… And may their advice about maintaining work-life balance remind you to actually go outside once in awhile.

Elliman

1. James Hinton

What he does: Better known as The Range, he makes beguiling, minimalist electronic music to get lost in. His most recent album, Potential, was released last year.

On working from home: It’s an economic thing, it’s a comfort thing. The ability to work late into the night is a huge reason why it just makes sense to do it this way. I’ll stay up until four in the morning pretty regularly.

I don’t think I could have made my last record in a professional studio. It just wouldn’t have worked. It was so much about being in your own space and your own comfort zone. For me, I just literally roll into bed when I’m done, and that ability to keep the circularity going in the morning, and have that space staring me in the face, it was an important thing.

Location: Clinton Hill

2. Olivia Wendel

What she does: She’s a fashion designer and textile artist, known for her hand-painted, gorgeous scarves.

On working from home: I view painting as a form of choreography. While figures remain still on flat paper, printing them onto fabric gives them movement and presence. Much like a series of etchings, I see these prints on fabric as works of art that can be worn or hung on a wall.

A few years ago I moved into a larger space where I currently live and work. There was definitely a transition period where I had to become more disciplined. I think part of this shift was realizing that regardless of the distance between my home and studio, my workspace is a sanctuary for creative thinking. I still take long walks through my neighborhood when I need to think things through.

Location: Williamsburg

3. Joan and Matt LeMay

Artists: Joan and Matt LeMay

What They Do: Joan is an interior designer who runs the company Fifth House Interiors, as well as a painter and illustrator. Her husband, Matt, is a technology consultant by day; by night he writes, mixes albums, and plays guitar. Matt has worked on albums by White Hinterland, Jessica Dennison + Jones, Sam Buck Rosen, and the Junior League.

Joan LeMay on working from home: Working from home is fantastic, because I can wake up and get going with no pants on, and just have a coffee or a paintbrush in my hand. But, without Matt around, I will forget to eat, I will forget to put on an outfit, I will forget to get the mail. I will just work until the sun goes down. Since we’re together in this small space probably 85 to 90 percent of our time, we’ve developed a routine that has helped counteract those tendencies. We treat ourselves as if we’re dogs—taking ourselves for walks several times a day, making sure we go outside, have breakfast. All of that stuff is very conscious.

Matt LeMay

Matt LeMay on working from home: Part of why I like the constraint of working from home is it has forced me to think about what I am using and what I care about, which in turn has changed the way I spend my time creatively. I find that having a little space where everything is close together makes me more inclined to play guitar while I am mixing. Weirdly, I feel like the particulars of this space have left me feeling more like a guitar player than I have in previous situations, because I have one amp that I really love that is set up all the time to record easily. It becomes a creative circuit that is easy to plug myself into any time. 

Location: Fort Greene

4. Nick Hakim

What he does: Nick is a soulful, hip-hop–savvy singer-songwriter whose debut album, Green Twins, was released on ATO Records in May.

On working from home: It all revolves around my music. I don’t have a lot, besides clothes and my mattress and some acquired junk. I have little things I collect that take up [some] space, but other than that it’s just my music stuff, my instruments, and gear that I’ve been collecting.

I lived in like four different places in the course of making this record. I just adapted to whatever space I had access to. There were a lot of limitations in terms of space and a lot of limitations in terms of being able to be loud. Right now I share a wall with someone that can hear every little step I take, so I don’t even have monitors set up. That really shaped the sound of the album, because we had to rehearse quietly in my room.

Location: Ridgewood, Queens

5. Geoff Kim

What he does: Geoff is an artist, designer, and illustrator that has worked for VICE, Billboard, Complex, Adidas, and The Creators Project.

On working from home: Your work and personal space blur, and that can become a bit distracting. It’s convenient to roll out of bed and start creating, but the flow of roommates or domestic tasks can become distracting. I like moving around, so even if I’m working from home I’ll take a bike ride or go for a walk.

There are times when my living room or workspace gets cluttered with small bits of paper, and I end up using the scraps that fall by the wayside, which disrupts the conscious process and allows for unexpected shapes and colors to fill my pieces.

Location: Bed-Stuy

6. Laura Tiffin

What she does: Laura makes colorful and custom-made cuffs and rings for her jewelry line Rabbitneck.

Laura on working from home: I started Rabbitneck in March 2016. But for years my studio has been in my home. I am lucky enough to have the space in my home and unlucky to not have the money to get a separate studio, so it makes total sense. So many artists I know do not have the space or money to work, so I’m really grateful. Let’s just pray the landlord doesn’t sell the building!

I built the workroom for Rabbitneck myself, so it feels like a real investment for me; it’s very motivating. I tend to keep weird hours, so it’s nice to be able to work and rest and work again on a whim. I also play piano, and when I want to break from work, I like having the piano around to just play for a few minutes.

Location: Red Hook

7. Malene Barnett

What she does: Malene is an award-winning designer known for her bespoke carpets and hand-crafted tiles.

On working from home: My home/office is in a Queen Anne-style townhouse and was a third bedroom which I had converted to an open loft space. My walls are painted in shades of tangerine, so even in the middle of winter it looks and feels like summer. It’s a refreshing color to work in, as it reminds me of the Caribbean. It’s my dream to live and work from the region, so until then, my home and office keeps the dream alive.

Before I started my business, I worked as a freelancer for 10 years, which consisted of a combination of going into an office and working from home. When I started my business, it made financial sense to continue to work from home, instead of adding unnecessary overhead expenses. Honestly, I never wanted to be tied to an office space, as I’ve always wanted to create a business that I could run from anywhere. I own my home, it has a dedicated work area, and the arrangement fits my lifestyle goals.

Location: Bed-Stuy

8. Juan Pieczanski and Jeff Curtin

What they do: As members of the band Small Black, they’ve made three albums of experimental headrush indie pop. They’ve also recorded Vampire Weekend and Those Darlins, amongst others, at their home studio, and hosted the Pitchfork TV show Juan’s Basement.

Juan Pieczanski on working from home: We’ve worked in professional studios for different projects, but I think nowadays everyone has a home studio. The studio system has changed since back in the day, and you can pretty much do anything at home, [save for] a couple of things. We have a basement here, so we can do the larger instruments.

Jeff CurtinJeff Curtin on working from home: We live right across from the train, so sometimes we have to wait for a train to pass or a pipe to stop running, which is the type of thing you have to deal with in a home studio. You learn to respect your neighbors, and get to know them a little bit, too. If we’re having a problem with one of the rooms upstairs, the basement is pretty quiet. We can just go down there. In the early days of the house, we did have a few floods down there that we had to worry about, but that hasn’t been a problem in a while. 

Location: Park Slope

9. Danielle Ribner

What she does: She’s the founder and Creative Director of Loup

Danielle on working from home: Owning and running Loup for the last 8 years has given me the freedom and independence I’ve always craved, and continues to bring new creative and mental challenges that I love working through. The decision to move my personal office from Manhattan into my home in Brooklyn allows me moments of solitude and inspiration in a place far from the hectic energy of the garment district, where I spend the rest of my time.

They say after 5 years you really know your business well, and I’ve definitely learned that bigger isn’t always better, and that transparency, simplification and a focus on high quality is a much quicker path to success.

Location: Fort Greene, Brooklyn


Douglas Elliman is New York City’s #1 brokerage and continues to grow with local offices across Brooklyn. Look for us in Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene, Ditmas Park with Bedford-Stuyvesant coming soon.

All photos by Julia Hembree.