My Studio: The Nickel Tour

After yesterday’s links to studio tours, Guy Francis (a very talented illustrator with a fun blog) asked me to post a photo tour of my studio. Far be it from me to disappoint my legions (*cough!*) of fans, so here goes…

My studio is actually the master bedroom of a 3-bedroom house I purchased when I was still a bachelor. It’s a starter home from the 1950’s. No basement, but plenty of room for a single guy. Bedroom #1 became the studio, bedroom #2 became my storage room, and I slept in bedroom #3.


Since then I’ve met and married my lovely wife (Jennie) and had a baby girl (Anna). I now live in the incredible shrinking house. Bedroom #2 became Anna’s room, so I had to toss out some of my junk and move the rest into my studio, which was a tight fit. Then Jennie started a part-time job working from home, so I bought her a desk and wedged it into the studio as well. The house is feeling awfully tight. The upside is that it has forced us to live “lean and mean” and get rid of a lot of junk we didn’t really need.

The studio is L-shaped, which makes it difficult to stand back and get a good picture. These pics were all taken with my iPhone (which has no flash) so they aren’t real crisp, but they should do:


Here’s the entrance.

1) One of two bookcases in my studio. The toys are mostly just fun designs I keep for inspiration. Two of them I actually designed (see below).

2) An original sketch by famed Disney animator Andreas Deja. He sketched it for me at the Disney Institute in 2000, and I was so nervous that I accidentally insulted the man. Maybe I’ll post that story tomorrow.

3) An original Winnie the Pooh sketch by Disney licensing artist Mike Royer. I purchased it from him at Comic-Con and he kindly personalized it for me.

4) My photocopier, which does up to 11×17 paper. I used it a lot before I purchased a Cintiq. Now that my studio is all-digital, the copier mostly collects dust. But every once in a while I still need it, so I keep it around.


A close-up of the original sketches hanging above the copier.


I mentioned that I had designed two of my toys. Here they are: bobblehead dolls done several years ago as a promotional giveaway for a college football game between the Moorhead State Dragons and the Concordia Cobbers. (I pulled them off the shelf to get better lighting for the photo).


This is the view from the doorway. Points of interest:

1) When I bought this house there were no doors on any of the bedroom closets. For some strange reason the closet doors are all weird sizes, which means I have to install custom doors. Spendy! So for now I have a simple white curtain hiding the junk in my closet.

2) This is a brown leather computer bag I bought on sale at OfficeMax. I stuffed it full of art supplies and take it with me to drawing co-ops or whenever I feel like going out somewhere to sketch.

3) My comic book collection. I’m slowly getting it organized so I can sell most of it on ebay. A monster project that will take a while.


Pan over to the right and you’ll see my art desk. This is where all the magic happens.

1) A ten-gallon foam hat that I purchased during my bachelor party. I still put it on for special occassions (i.e. my brother’s wedding reception), or when I need to get in touch with my inner cowboy.

2) A Marc Davis “original” I bought on ebay. I have since discovered it is only a print. But it’s still inspiring.

3) A page of sketches sent to me by the uber-talented John Navarez.

4) My Cintiq. I love this thing. I do every project with it, from start to finish. It has totally replaced my drawing board, which is now in storage in the garage.

5) You can’t see it in the dark, but under my desk is a UPS (Unlimited Power Supply) which keeps my computer running during blackouts. I get a lot of them. In fact, our neighborhood had yet another blackout early Sunday morning.

6) My wonderful new filing system. More on that later.

7) A replica Hollywood clapboard I purchased on a vacation to L.A. It’s cheezy but I like it.


A close-up of the John Navarez sketches. Sorry for the bad photo, the iPhone doesn’t take the best pictures indoors.


Here’s a close-up of my drawing desk.

1) A pile of art and business books I’ve recently purchased on and am hoping to someday read, or at least skim. I’m never totally caught up on my reading (not even close), but this was a crazy summer freelance-wise so the pile is bigger than usual.

2) Art and animation DVDs. Sometimes while working I will listen to an audio commentary or documentary.

3) Photos of my wife and daughter, dutifully guarded by Buzz Lightyear.

4) My Apple cinema display. If you ever buy a Cintiq, I highly recommend keeping your existing computer monitor. Often when working on a project I’ll start with a Google image search looking for photo reference, and then spread out the photos across the monitor. That frees me up to use the Cintiq just for drawing. Also, in Photoshop I will often open my artwork in a second window (Window > Arrange > New window…) and drag it up to the monitor. That way I can zoom in to do detail work on the Cintiq, and then glance up to see how it looks in the context of the larger image. Saves all that zooming in and zooming out.

5) Some plastic toys sent to me by Crayola for a project I am currently working on. I’ll post that artwork at a later date, once I get client approval.


This is an amazing new filing system I read about on The top three shelves are labelled according to urgency:

This week

Urgent stuff goes in the “Today” tray, and I make sure that tray is empty at the end of the day. The important-but-not-urgent papers (i.e. bills, notes, etc.) go in the second tray, and I try my best to get it empty by the end of the day on Friday. The third tray is for things that can wait until I get some free time. I try to go through it once every month or two.

I use a similar system to keep my email inbox organized. Everything goes into one of three folders, and my actual inbox stays empty. This system has been been a HUGE help in managing all of my clutter.

The bottom two trays are labelled “Finances” and “To File”. The “Finances” tray is mostly for receipts that I have to enter into Quickbooks (as you can see, I’m just a weeee bit behind). The “To File” tray is for stuff I actually have to stick in a folder somewhere. I usually let that tray get filled to bursting and then deal with it all at once.


Pan to the right and you’ll see my color printer, fax machine, and some drawers/shelves for misc. junk. My scanner is temprorarily on the floor, but needs to be put back on one of the shelves.


Finally, off to the far right is my lovely wife’s desk, tucked away in the little cubby of my L-shaped studio. Our cable modem and Airport are on the top left of her desk, and our black-and-white laser printer are on the right side of her desktop. On the right edge of the photo is the white bookcase you saw at the very beginning of the tour.

There you have it! Thank you for touring Cedric Hohnstadt Illustration. Watch for “Cedric Hohnstadt Illutration: The Ride!” coming to an amusement park near you.