I've always been drawn to the work spaces of creatives, even before I was a designer. I think studios, workshops, and office spaces provide an interesting insight into the person working, and what they need from their professional home (even if it's a space within a family home). What is that person choosing to surround themselves with for the majority of their day? Is the space invigorating and colorful, or restful and neutral? Is it bursting at the seams with supplies and inspiration, or does everything have a space and place?
Some day, I'll share what my own crazy office space looks like, but until then, I'm going to be sharing the office spaces of some of my favorite creatives. Today, it's the studio of children's author and illustrator Scott Magoon. If you're not familiar with Scott's work, get yourself to your local library! Scott has written and/or illustrated more than 20 books including Breathe, The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot, Spoon (written by Amy Kraus Rosenthal), and his latest, I Will Not Eat You (written by Adam Lehrhaupt), which was released earlier this fall. And there's more on the horizon. Right now, Scott is working on a very special book written by two Boston Marathon-bombing survivors. A marathoner himself, Scott was running in 2013, so this is a particularly special project for him.
And on top of all that...he just opened an online print shop! All profits from prints sold this holiday season will go to Wondermore, a local non-profit that works to cultivate children's curiosity, creativity, and academic achievement by igniting a love of good books. Wondermore brings children's authors and illustrators into underserved K-8 Boston Public Schools for visits and writing workshops.
OK, onto our conversation with Scott and his studio tour! In 2015, Scott left his full-time job in the publishing world, and made the leap to full-time self-employment. Scott's at-home studio is bright, colorful, organized, and fun with a capital F. There's so much to look at in this relatively small space — nods to Scott's childhood, his life as an artist, and his life as a father — but it feels completely serene. Take a look (and a read) for yourself!
How long have you been working from your home studio exclusively?
Since October 2, 2015, 8:30 AM EST. Who's counting? Me. Yes, you're darn right I'm counting. Happy to be free.
Do you protect it as your space, or do you find the family floating in and out during non-office hours?
It is pretty much my space, but I do like the occasional visitor—especially since my family are all voracious readers — they can come in and offer some feedback on the drawings or writing I'm doing. Plus, I love just being around and feeling connected to my family. Feels absolutely right. Anyway, speaking of family — back when I was planning the studio my brother suggested that I forgo a shelf/cabinet in the corner in favor of a visitor's chair, and so I did. I really like his idea there because it encourages people to come on in and chat for a spell. It's a nice wide open wingback in the far corner as you walk in. It's like a big scoop for visitors to sit in — and for me to get out of my office chair and do some reading. No phone calls though. I pace while I'm on those. Not sure why.
Where did you look for inspiration when creating your new space?
I looked to Pinterest, I looked to previous studios of artists I admire. Again, my brother had done something similar in his house and so I referred to what he had done, particularly around the floating desk. But you know — maybe most importantly — I looked to previous spaces I used for studios. I've had a studio space since my apartment days in the late '90s and have tried different set ups/solutions. At this point, now that I'm really old (editor's note — Scott is NOT old), I think I have a decent idea of what I need at this point in terms of space, style, and storage, and can apply that knowledge to a small unused bedroom in my house. If it was, say, a converted warehouse or old factory space it would be much different. Lots of vintage stand-up arcade games and maybe a tire swing for instance; lazer tag arena, etc.
What are your favorite shops/sources?
Well, I must confess I'm a total Ikea-head. (Is that a term?) But I'm part Swedish so it's ok. Honestly, I put together an Ikea item, screw up its assembly a few times, swear "Never again!!!" — then I go to one of their retail stores for the meatballs and lingonberry and they suck me in from there. Ikea creates affordable, stylish, and environmentally sustainable containers/stages for things and then I take it from there with my knick-knacks and books to add the color and personality.
Tell me about the collection of books…are they from authors/illustrators who are important to you in some way, or just inspirational work?
A combination of both. I see beautiful picture books that inspire me and must have them and add them to my wall. I have books that have inspired me as a kid and I must add them to the wall. The picture book wall is a direct link to my days at Candlewick Press where I was a book designer. We'd have a wall of shelves on which sat recent books, upcoming books, inspiring books, cover mock ups, etc. It was absolutely invaluable to have visible from my desk as a designer. It was kind of a mini retail shelf or library shelf. At one point it turned into a wall of honor — if our Creative Director put your book on that shelf it was something special; a compliment...and so I wanted to create my own damn picture book wall at home. Worked out well. I use it all of the time.
What’s your favorite part of your studio?
I love the picture book wall. I love the storage. I love my Sonos Play 5 speaker for music and audiobooks. But I really love my glass display case. It's sort of a mini museum to my childhood. For instance, I've got a small "Han Solo" action figure exhibit going on right now on the top shelf. I felt compelled to start that up after the VERY SOBERING events of The Force Awakens. I've also got my old Cub Scout pocket knife and the p-38 can opener my dad gave me from his time in Vietnam. He gave it to my on my first day of college in Boston in September of 1995. It's a small thing but it means a lot — obviously because it belonged to him but also because of what it means — what a perfect little momento. Go open up the world! Or maybe just a can of Spaghetti-O's. So great. Oh, and I've also got my Sugarloaf season ski pass from the '80s. Many great memories on that pass. The point of having all of these things around me is to feel comfortable, to feel like you've lived a life—that there are things from when you were a kid that looking at now you can see added meaning — inspiring objects to have around you as an artist. Take every advantage.
Is there anything that you still want to add to it?
Yes, but it must be small and/or flat just because I don't have a lot of space. Two things: magnetic board behind my door to hang up development sketches and a wire next to my visitor's chair from which I can hang fan art/letters from my fans. Maybe a better ceiling light.
What’s next for you? Big project? Appearances?
I've got a bunch of books coming out. The Nuts in: Just Keep Rolling by Eric Litwin next year, and a new series of books by Ame Dyckman coming soon after that. Lots of school visits, book store and trade show appearances...all in a day's work. For the latest and greatest you can follow me at scottmagoon.com, on Twitter: @smagoon, on Facebook at scottmagoonbooks. I'm not great at social media but every now and then I'll put something up.
Best piece of advice for those who work from home?
There's a great quote from Gustave Flaubert: "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” I take that to mean to be organized — and that doesn't mean just your markers, paperwork, etc. I think it also means to organize things that inspire you around you. In my case that means artifacts from my youth, given that I'm creating for young readers. And make it changeable, adaptable, fresh. For instance my display case: I plan to end the Han Solo exhibit soon and start up a droid show: all droid figures from Star Wars. Total nerd alert, sure. But it's fun to me; do what's fun for you.
Ready for to add some Scott Magoon goodness to your collection? We're giving away four of Scott's books — The Boys Who Cried Bigfoot, Breathe, I Will Not Eat You, and Mostly Monsterly — signed, and in time for Christmas and Hanukkah!
Enter using the widget below. Earn additional points for visiting the Tess & Ted and Scott Magoon Books Facebook pages, or tweeting about the giveaway.
All entrants must be 18+, and shipping is within the U.S. only. All four books must be shipped to one address.
Contest ends Monday, December 12 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
One randomly-selected winner will be announced on this post on Tuesday, December 13. We'll need the winner's address ASAP so we can get your books signed and out before the holiday week, so stay tuned! Thanks for your entry!
All photos were taken by Paige Lewin, with the exception of the chopsticks print and the four book jackets, each from scottmagoon.com.