The Two Desks of Chris von Szombathy

The Two Desks of Chris von Szombathy

Gregory Han
Mar 30, 2011

Canadian artist and art director, Chris von Szombathy, splits his work day between two desks – one dry and one wet. He shares details about his workspace organization and importance of scents in the work environment...

Tell us about the kind of work you do. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I work as both a visual/graphic and audio artist/art director. Because most of my work is quite small or digitally based I am able to do 90% of it out of a very small space and have done so for about a decade. Since I have had struggles with agoraphobia working out of the home was a necessity for me in the past, a comfort for me now as I work towards a more stable existence. I live in Vancouver, Canada.

Describe your style and how it relates to the space you work in and also the work you produce. Stylistically my work deals with what I see as a broad visual language; incorporating illustrative and advertising styles (my interests and preferences) as a container for the emotional content that is around that day (my experiences and questions). Really though it's just whatever pops into my head that I like and has what it takes to go beyond the drawing board. My sensibility, at least what I try to achieve in the editing process, really is just a bold, clear something with attention to details. For me it's about filling a space with an object that seems to have clear intentions but leaving enough room for interpretations to feel unhampered. It's also how I try to work within physical spaces as well. However, wet paints and computers don't mix so I do have to keep some separation!

How do you keep your work space organized? I like to keep things always in the same place so that when I need something I can reach for it with my eyes closed. It's the same way that I also organize files in my computer. Everything should end up in places that will be the first place you'll look. Organization, though, only creates flexibility if you create a flexible structure. Creating the space and freedom to be messy isn't the same as being messy. It's only messy if it's an oversight.

When you set up your home office what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? I dislike working on carpet. I also believe in smells being really crucial. It's definitely one of those things that, although it doesn't end up in the final product per se, can affect your pace and awareness. Everyone complains that I work in the dark too much so having good lighting was also, apparently, something to be aware of. I find I focus better in dimmer lighting however.

Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet right now? No. I covet kitchen hardware way more. I treat my entire living area as a work(ing) space, barring the fact that the computer stays stationary. If I'm comfortable with where my pillow is then I'm comfortable where I'm working.

What desk accessory can't you do without? A pencil. It's the one thing I end up looking for more than anything else.

What would you change about your work space? I would probably be living in a more open floor plan and everything would have cupboards and wheels and clean linens. That's where I'm going. Most of your workspace is really between your ears so being able to change your space to suit your daily needs quickly is something that I am still trying to construct.

What inspires you? The most inspiring thing is a deep breath; if you can still do that then things are going forward. Lacking ideas is never the problem. It's judging the arriving idea that causes problems. On a personal level though, my family always inspires me. Their support is endless and their curiosity is deep. What more to ask for?

Originally published at Lifework by Cerentha Harris

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