Homeworking is more popular than ever, but that doesn’t mean everyone is after, or able, to recreate the office environment. Some are at their creative best sitting on the floor, the TV blaring in the background. Some find their focus at their mum’s house, in their childhood bedroom. Some drift from space to space, chairs and sofas, mixing it up, seeking an ever-changing view. Different things work for different folks, and at times we also find ourselves making do – I look back non-too-fondly at the year I made the best of a tiny £40 Ikea desk in my lounge, under a window showing me the back of another building.
I’m always curious about where and how people work – particularly freelancers, remote workers, those that make, or make-do. So I set my team the challenge of revealing their set-up in one photo, warts and all, and telling Chester a little bit about the story behind the space. We’ve got a lovely, talented, dedicated team of artists, writers, graphic designers…and beyond at amble…and every single one of them definitely tidied up before these photos were taken. What a bunch of liars.
JOSEPHINE HOLMAN – MY HOME OFFICE
This is where I worked on my degree when I was studying. Today it’s where I write, work from home and sometimes read. It’s also where I make minor sewing repairs and long phone calls.
I always light a heavily scented candle, I love the cosy feeling it creates. I also need an enormous mug of tea and usually radio 4 on as quiet background burbling. Bertie (my Chorkie dog) will usually join me either on the futon next to the radiator or on my lap, which makes typing tricky.
Bertie is my biggest distraction but also the best part of working from home. But I also get distracted by the window and what’s happening in the garden, especially when it’s raining.
I always think I’ll like working in a coffee shop but I get too wrapped up in everything going on around me and struggle to keep a single idea in my head. If I’m not here then I’m either travelling or at my work office but I get a huge amount done on trains which is a close second favourite place to work.
In this space, my favourite part is the blue triangle on the wall, it really shapes the space and creates a little desk zone to work in. I also really appreciate the clean lines of the paint and it reminds me of the fun time we had decorating.
I love my home office space but I do have a grand designs style dream workspace in my head that I would build if I could. I love books and studied literature at University so I would have a round library room with a desk, comfy chairs and an open fire. There would be a spiral staircase in the centre leading up to a viewing platform covered in large floor cushions under a glass dome for nighttime stargazing.
For now, I’ll just look out the window and light a candle.
ROB TURNER – IN THE SHACK
This is my Shack at home, where a cup of tea, a dark room with the desk lamp on, lots of the space on the desk, the heater on, and chilled music in the background are essential. My Dad’s lifetime collection of LP’s is the best thing about where I work.
If I’m not here, I’ll be On the dining room table in the kitchen, or I make an effort to walk into town to Storyhouse.
But this is where I do most of my freelance stuff. I like to draw freehand, and scanning the illustrations onto the MacBook, instead of making my work entirely digital. This is also where I cut out interesting designs/patterns/artwork that I find in magazines and stick them together in one book. I use it for inspiration and getting the creative flow going.
My biggest distractions are Youtube and Spotify. Sometimes the guitar.
A loo of some sort would be nice, so I don’t have to walk back into the house all the time. It’s more frustrating when it’s cold and raining outside!
Rob has contributed some wonderful illustrations to the last few issues of amble magazine. You can check out his website and get in touch here.
SOPHIE STAFFORD – THE COSY COUCH
This is the lounge in my new home; cosy couch and even cosier cushions! I need Magic radio in the background, fresh PJ’s, a good cup of tea and my two kittens perched by my side for a little comic relief in my writing breaks. My kittens are also the biggest distraction; naughty little buggers Winnie and Diggs climb all over the laptop, nudge my hands for a fuss and collapse in a heap in my lap half on my laptop!
I love the light of my living room in this space, that and the calming tunes of Dido always promotes the best working environment.I create my amble articles in this space and also add to my personal website – all my published work and blog pieces. Obviously the occasional snooze and a good book too.
I work Full time at Lloyds Banking Group! If I’m not working on an amble piece or at Lloyds, I’ll be working hard in the kitchen. My boyfriend and I loveeee cooking! One day, I was to create a cookbook based on all our recipes that have emerged from our mistakes.
My perfect work set up would be a completely waterproof laptop that could survive a couple of hours in the bath. Having a bath with bubbles, salts, Lush bath bombs and candles creates the most relaxing and thought-provoking atmosphere. If someone could create a laptop that could perch in the bath, I reckon so much more work would be done! Obviously this bath needs to include self-reheating water and some sort of oil that could fix the prune-like body, remerging hours later.
Amblers are baring all (don’t worry, it’s a clothes-on exercise, they’re just getting their spaces out). This series is about where we work – in hallway nooks, independent coffee shops, proper grown-up offices, and beyond. You can catch up on the first three spaces here. In this second instalment, we hit the water:
SOPHIA SHAW – BOATY MCBOATFACE
My desk takes up about half of the living room of my narrowboat home/studio.
For work, I need constant cups of tea, BBC6 music on the radio and half the year I usually have a hot water bottle on my lap!
I do everything here, from drawing and painting, packaging my online shop orders and organising my accounts to boring laptop work like updating my website and Etsy and advertising. It’s tiny but I make it work.
My favourite part of the space has to be the window. Can’t beat watching the ducks cruise past and if we’re out on an adventure the view changes every day. Other distractions include boaty chores and our rescue dog John, both distract me far too much,
I like to work in Storyhouse sometimes when I’m doing tedious laptop work, because I love the atmosphere and browsing the books when I’m procrastinating.
I love my boaty desk, but my dream studio would be a permanent little studio space/gallery alongside other creatives.
I’m upgrading next year though- saving pennies to build my own studio shed
Sophia is responsible for the wonderful watercolour illustrations in issue 3 of amble magazine. You can check out more of her work here.
FB & Insta- @sophiasillustration
GRAHAM CATLIN – NOTHING BUT GREEN
This is my home in the Garden Quarter. Before 2pm I’m hitting the coffee, then it’s tea for the rest of the day. Radio 3 is ideally playing Beethoven, Brahms or Wagner.
You’ll find me here: writing, reading, listening to music, plotting and daydreaming.
For me, the best part of my set-up is the beech tree in the garden and the the fact that it’s usually very quiet. Although, squirrel business in the garden can be very distracting.
If I’m not here I’m at Storyhouse or Gladstone Library.
In a perfect world, there’d be a wood burner and alpine or sea views…
Graham has been part of the amble team from the early days, contributing wonderful, engaging and varied features. Take a look at his recent write-up of the Storyhouse Annual Review, his love of That Beer Place, and his interview with local writer John Rodgers.
REBECCA CASSON – HITTING THE BOOKS
This is my study. My essential working conditions are: quiet, classical music, tea and no distractions please, unless you’re bringing me a cup of tea!
This is where I’ll be blogging, translating, writing fiction, entering story competitions, and working on my very slowly developing novel.
I love being surrounded by books – having a wall of words next to me for inspiration.
I also like writing in bed, especially in the winter.
I have a busy mind. Sometimes I need to make a list of other irrelevant things as I’m writing, so they don’t take up mind space. My procrastinating also includes reading Wikipedia articles that are increasingly less relevant to what I’m researching!
What would I change about my study? You know what, not a thing. It’s perfect, I’ve made it so.
Rebecca joined the amble team earlier this year. When she’s not working behind the scenes on one of our secret projects…shhh..she’s writing some absolute gems.
HANGING WITH SOCK PUPPETS – BRAIN TAYLOR
This is in the living room (which is connected to a dining area and the kitchen).
I need to have space around the wheelchair and the desks, and quiet is preferred! The air fan in the kitchen and social media are big distractions.
My computer with a drawing pad is definitely the best bit – I’m in love with the drawing pad! This is where I focus on graphics stuff, sketching ideas and other things.
A MacBook Pro with a good battery would make it even better (if I try and work outside the house I need somewhere with a plug socket; my laptop battery doesn’t last long). I also need to get some inspirational images on the wall.
By now you get the gist. I’ve forced my team (gently) to expose themselves: their desks, their comfy sofas, their hidden nooks. I want to see where the magic happens. And by magic, I mean creative work of course. You can catch up on series 1 and series 2. For now, treat yourselves to the eclectic bunch that is series 3 below. We’re starting with a tech haven:
SERIOUS SCREEN TIME – ANDY
This is my battle station! Well, okay, it’s the corner of my spare room. If I’ve got black coffee, electronic ambient music (Carbon Based Lifeforms, Solar Fields, Tycho, Helios etc.) I’m good to start work.
You’ll find me here editing and retouching photography. I’m really starting to learn advanced techniques in Photoshop for retouching my portrait work. I’ve also started to understand RGB curves when creating presets. This really makes my images stand out.
My PC is probably my favourite part. I designed and built it to be able to process huge amounts of images as quick as possible. It makes my editing workflow much more responsive and enjoyable.
The biggest distraction is having to adult and do #life stuff.
The set up is missing my Bower & Wilkins speakers and Denon Amp that have been nicked to go in the dining room instead.
If I’m away from my desk, I’m at the gym or out eating cake (balance).
My perfect setup would include 2x 24″ 30-Bit 4k monitors, Wacom Tablet, Canon Pro 1000 fine art printer, my speakers and amp, bean to cup espresso machine, and enough space for a small studio. Then finally, a window looking out over a lake with sharp, jagged mountains on the horizon.
Andy is the brainpower behind Chester Elements Photography. Follow him on Twitter here. We regularly steal his awesome photos for our feed, and did you see his Meltdown shoot in issue 3? – boy, did he nail it.
SPACE FROM SCRATCH -STEPH ALLMAN
This is my room/personal study. Please keep the espresso coming, put Simon and Garfunkel on the record player and a wrap a blanket around me like a cape.
My stepdad asked me to design my dream desk while I was studying at university and he built it out of recycled furniture from the room.
This is where I write, research various techy things, sketch and read.
It’s very distracting when my journalism friends tag me in political memes.
If I’m missing, you’ll find me in a coffee shop with my headphones on.
I’d love a better chair, better view, a dog on my lap and an IV of pure caffeine going into my bloodstream.
Steph is amble’s Social Media Analyst and is often out and about in Chester, causing mischief with the amble mascot pup, Gatsby.
THANKS GRANDMA -YAM KOVATCH
This is my sofa where you’ll find me with a pot of tea, a blanket over me, and Channel 4 daytime television in the background.
If I can resist the distraction of social media I’ll be mainly editing and selecting photos. I like to keep my photos very natural so I don’t retouch much in them apart of slight colour correction. I spend most of the time opening every photo and looking at it to make sure that it’s how I want it to be.
I also work from local coffee shops; Jaunty Goat and Little Yellow Pig are my favourite places.
I love the sofa the most – it looks like it came out of my grandmother’s house.
I guess it’s missing a desk! I’d like a 27 inch iMac Pro, iPad Pro with pencil, a photography studio… and a cat.
ALL THE COLOURS – ANNE-MARIE RICKUS
Welcome to my little studio at the bottom of my garden – my creative haven!
I need coffee and podcasts (although will often listen to the radio as well). My children invade a lot. Grown-up taks are also distracting.
If I had to choose, I’d say my favourite part is probably the wall just above my desk. It has lots of pictures and images for inspiration – other illustrators, my children’s drawings, things I have collected over the years – and it’s just very pleasing to the eye.
All my illustration work is done here – from the messy bits (drawing, painting, printmaking….etc.) to the more final, ‘cleaner’ digital aspects of my work. I also store all my art materials for workshops in here as well. I can often be found testing materials & designing prototypes for the art workshops that I lead for schools and community groups.
My perfect set-up would be a bit bigger, so that I could run workshops as well. It would also be great to have a kitchen/washing up area, as well as a loo! Without running water, I’m forever having to nip down the garden back to the house and into the kitchen to clean brushes, make a cuppa…etc.
If I’m not here, I’m somewhere in the house – if I’m multitasking & need to keep an eye on the kids as well. Sometimes I will go to a cafe, but as all my materials are in the studio I very rarely go elsewhere.
Ann-Marie is another delightful amble newbie and you can check out her illustration work here.