Inside the Artist’s Studio is Artful Living’s exclusive look into the innovative, intimate lifestyles of creatives. The studio is a place of curating, of inspiring, of creating. These distinctive spaces play an essential role in the artist’s process and are a direct reflection of the personality and attention to detail that go into each work of art.
Here at Artful Living, we’re big fans of Mary Jo Hoffman (@maryjohoffman) as evidenced by our spring issue feature. Not only is she a talented photographer, but she’s also a stalwart of the Twin Cities creative community. Featuring gathered natural objects, her work causes one to stop and be still in a beautiful moment. It even caught the attention of Reese Witherspoon, who recently featured the photographer in her Hello Sunshine video series about creative women in the Midwest.
How would you describe your studio?
Studios (plural) is probably more accurate. My most common studio right now is our dining-room table, which happens to be adjacent to a large wall of windows with reliable, usually diffuse northern light. I also have a space in our basement set up like a traditional studio that I use less often than I expected when I set it up. And then I have a beautiful worn wood board on two sawhorses in our garage that I often place objects on to photograph.
But as often as not, my studio is wherever I have white tagboard with me and there is something interesting to photograph out in the world. This mobile studio follows me wherever I go and can be set up almost instantly on the shoulder of a highway, on the side of a trail, on the shore of a lake, in a friend’s front yard, in the parking lot of a strip mall or on the rear bumper of my 2005 Toyota Prius with the hatch up.
How long have you been in this space?
I have been working in all of these spaces since January 1, 2012, when I posted my first Still blog image.
What are your studio must-haves?
Mobility. Part of the reason I sort of insist on taking my studio with me is that I conceived this project to be something that would fit into the brief empty spaces that open up inside busy family life with two kids. I have never really had the bandwidth, or even the desire, to commit to a regular studio time and location, because that rigidity would have doomed the project. Part of the reason I’ve managed to post a photo every day for almost six and a half years is that I can sneak one in when, in autumn for instance, the leaves of the hawthorn tree in the parking lot of the real-estate office on the drive home from soccer practice turn the perfect shade of dreamsicle orange.
How does this space foster creativity?
I would say in the way that this whole project has encouraged my creativity: by turning the whole world into a studio and encouraging me to be present in my location, wherever I happen to be, more often than if I weren’t doing the Still blog. When the whole world is a studio, you remain almost constantly open to beauty, to surprises, to the incremental turning of the dial of the seasons. Suddenly a walk or a drive or a pause to look out the window can all be acts of scavenging for raw creative material.
What’s the best part of having a studio in the Twin Cities area?
Our super-smart, ambitious, inquisitive, connected, intra-supportive creative community that inspires good work and makes it fun to share good work in a career that in other parts of the world can be lonely, isolating and back-bitingly competitive.