Getting the keys to a new studio…

So, I admit it, that title is a little click bait. This is a little bit of a throw back post to the day I first got the keys to the space we are currently renovating. The above image is the day I moved in. You can see that a lot has changed. The floor is possibly the first thing you will notice. That carpet was glued to a layer of lino that had sat on the concrete floor for at least a decade. It had formed a layer of mold that I spent quite some time safely removing. Removing that carpet and painting the floor was the first thing I did to the studio that was a massive improvement. Before I made that change it felt dark and claustrophobic. 

You will also notice that the mezzanine floor/shelf hasn’t been built at this point. It was a couple of years before that made an appearance. And a couple more after that before I took a dive from it! Another point to note is the lack of the changing room area and the window display wall. These where both added at the same time as the shelf. The old “Brands 4 less” logo was on the windows for quite some time before I finally removed it. 

Removing the old branding was definitely an improvement. 

This image was taken just as everything had been moved in and the Colorama’s had been hung up and the set floor laid. It didn’t quite feel like home yet. Especially after coming from a much cleaner, presentable albeit smaller studio space further down the road. 

The old space was a tiny office room on the bottom floor of a commercial building further down the road. It was very cramped, but looked really great. The other businesses on the floor where fantastic company as well. I was really sad to move from there, but I couldn’t fit in the small space for much longer and the limited modifications I was allowed to do to the room meant I couldn’t make many improvements, or significant alterations - like the shelf for storage. 

That being said, it was quite some time before any modifications were made to the current studio. The main alterations came in the form of the shelf and getting rid of that carpet. These images are the day the shelf was originally installed. Before it was completely finished and before the changing room was properly built. Also, note that the window display boarding was not installed yet either.

The construction of the changing room was relatively simple. Strips of baton where attached to the scaffold, the ply was then screwed directly onto these. A simple, but effective solution.  I couldn’t find an image to show the construction of the window display, but once that was in, that is pretty much how it has remained until recently when the renovations began. 

There will be an extensive update soon detailing what has been done to the studio over the past few days. It is looking a lot more homely and very professional these days. I’m definitely looking forwards to it being in a fully useable state.

Studio renovation update!

Continuing on from the last update post, the studio is feeling much more like a studio again and less like a construction site. 

You can see from the panoramic image above that, all of the building supplies that did not get used to build the new set and what was left of the partition wall we took out were piled in the middle of the floor. This took up way too much space and was becoming a hazard. I decided a simple solution would be to hide the larger pieces of lumber in the back room, where they would be out of the way and store the offcuts and other pieces in the changing room. We don’t need to access that area at the moment, so it made sense to use it to store everything we could. 

I really dislike mess and disorder, so as you can imagine having everything all over the place is really getting on my nerves. The silver lining though, is that when this is finished there will be order and space for everything. The studio will be super tidy, clean and look great. So if I have to put up with a mess for a couple more weeks, I guess I’ll have to!

The walls in the back room which we call “Set 2” (back in the habit), have been lined and we could then set about painting them. So far, most of the surfaces have had two coats, the one with the light switch needs some repair work to the plaster at the bottom. I am waiting to finish painting that one until after the repair work has happened. 

I decided to paint some of the floor as a test. The original idea was to use thin ply wood as a surface layer. This would then be painted white, giving set 2 (electric boogaloo) a clean, crisp finish with no gaps between the walls and floor, no floor boards and just a smooth white surface to shoot on. But once I had seen the floor boards, I quite liked the aesthetic and figured testing out how they might look once painted would be a good idea. As it turns out, there has been something spilled on some of the boards and there are a few different kinds of wood and as a result the white isn’t “white white” all over. In some spots (where something was spilled), orange seeps through and other areas look grey. I think, with a good solid undercoat and some thick floor paint, we might get away with it. But I do think the original idea of ply wood is going to be the route we take.

Even Flint (the namesake of our company), wanted to get involved in the painting! Seen here on Set 2 (cruise control) with Bobbie as we applied the first coat of paint.

We added some finishing touches to the small section of partition wall that we had to leave in place behind the mezzanine. This piece of wall prevents the contents of the mezzanine “shelf” being visible from the back.

The front window area has been fully painted now and the company logo and example images are proudly displayed for passers by to see! Getting everything up on that wall, in the limited space, whilst balancing a tape measure, screws, drill, spirit level and the framed image, was a bit of a challenge! Our three year old took one look at it and said “One of them is wonky” and walked off. 

I also got rid of the horrendous old, broken blind and replaced it with a functioning one! This means now more light can come into the front area and we might actually look like we are open instead of permanently looking closed. I was going to take a tip from Kevin Smith and grab a bed sheet and some shoe polish as an alternate option… 

Bobbie spent some time stripping the old blown vinyl wallpaper from the front area and we gave Set 1 a fresh coat of paint and painted the wall where the wallpaper had been removed and the back of the window display some TLC as well. Then we rearranged things slightly and started to tidy up a little more. 

That brings us pretty much up to date again. Next on the list is a set of blinds for the mezzanine shelf. This will allow us to cover the area and hide away all the things that are stored up there. With flat white blinds it should look pretty tidy as well. Then the electrician is coming in to sort out the plugs and lights - I thought this was going to happen last week, but it was pushed back. Once that is done we can lay the ply wood floor in Set 2 (Judgement day) and begin the arduous task of painting the entire floor. 

We are hoping to be ready for action at the end of April and we will be running a special launch event which we will explain about over on the Flint Arrow facebook page and instagram! Check back soon for more updates! 

Renovating the studio space!

If you have visited us at the original studio space, which was formerly the “2TP” or Two Tadpoles Photography studio on Whalley Road, you will know that it is a ground floor space and pretty compact in size. I had aspirations for many years to either move to somewhere larger or find some  way to increase the amount of floor space available. This past month I have done exactly the latter. In order to explain how, we should take a brief look at the history of the location. The building was previously locally known as “Ralph’s Diner”, a much loved greasy spoon that was popular in the town centre for many years. It is a shop front property with access onto the main road. During it’s time as a diner it had an open plan layout with a reasonably sized space that paired both tables for customers and a serving area. Behind this was a small adjoining kitchen. Shortly after the diner closed down it was taken over as a second hand shop called “Brands 4 less” 

At this stage in its life the two rooms were separated and a partition wall was built between them. The shop didn’t last very long and after it closed, I moved into the front half of the building. I had access to the front area which is roughly 20 foot by 20 foot with very high ceilings and a cellar. Although the cellar is very dusty and far too spooky to be of much use. 

You can get an idea of what the space was like to work in at this time in this behind the scenes video:

For the first few years I had the space, there was another man making use of the back room and kitchen for his business. (I believe he was a t-shirt printing company.) Shortly before the rona happened, his lease ran out and he left. This meant the back room was now vacant. 

Now, we are up to date, pretty much a year later, And I have access to this backspace! 

The immediate plan was to take down that partition wall and expand into the back room.

It was a pretty simple process. First I would rip down the plasterboard, take out the studs and then tidy up. The main part of the expansion project was done within a day! I did have giant plans for everything, but time restraints have reigned us in a little. That, and we are hoping that within the next 12 months we will be moving into a much larger space, which would mean anything ambitious we built here would either need to fit or be repurposed when we move into our new space or be left here. This meant the plans of making the rear set a cycloramic wall had to be put on hold.

The back room needed a lot of TLC, the old carpet was horrendous and the walls were painted a very weird off white, almost yellow colour which when paired with the very warm tube lights gave an uneasy and not very welcoming feel to the place. 

We ripped up the carpet and made some repairs to the floor underneath, stripped the walls and built a new partition along the back wall to create a longer, smoother surface that can be used as the main set in the studio.

You can see from this image the grey area of the wall is the extended partition. This wall is going to be a photographic set. The floor will be boarded out and painted white to match. Just behind that door to the right is access to the kitchen, in the negative space that the partition has made I now have a perfect spot to hide away the gear locker and drawers. These things are both invaluable for storing everything and anything in the studio, but they take up so much space. Having a hidden away spot for them makes the studio look massively tidier and gives everyone who’s in there that little bit more room!

You can see in the panoramic shot, the edge of the scaffolding “Mezzanine” storage area I call “The Shelf” (side story, whilst moving things from the floor to that shelf before starting the work, my ladder collapsed and I fell and dislocated my shoulder, which was fun) 

The shelf was my answer to a lack of storage, built from scaffolding, it holds all of the props, coloramas and other equipment I don’t need immediate access to out of the way. The area with the Union Flag to the right, is the changing room. It has its own lights and mirror in there, so anyone who’s going to be in front of the camera has their own space to change. The door to the left is the entrance to the spooky cellar.

On the first image you can see the original studio area, this will now be the second set and will keep it’s coloramas (I say colorama, most of my backgrounds are “Creativity”) The new set will also have a colorama mount and a variety of colours to choose from.

Rather than leaving the front window open to the sets I chose to board off the right hand window and use it as a window display.

The whole window area is going to be clean and white with the new company logo somewhere in the centre. Surrounded by examples of our work and contact details. I haven’t decided on a lighting solution for it yet, but I think it’s going to look great once it’s done!

On the subject of the new logo…

The new logo, the Flint Arrowhead itself needed to be present. I wanted a rustic, home made look to the logo and opted to make it from a pallet. The boards are screwed together on the back and sprayed in grey primer. The logo was printed out and masked in place then sprayed. 

The final image has the arrows in full colour crossed behind it. This is waiting to go up in the window at the studio when the prints for the work that is going alongside it arrives.

That is all for this update, I will be posting more about the progress as we continue. The back room has just been decorated and the flooring in there is on the list after the electrician has been and added some new sockets and lights. After that we will be painting the whole floor in the back room and making a start on tidying up the front area. There are a lot of smaller things to work on, including making a reception area, a gallery and a seating area for meetings with clients. We are hoping that this is all going to be finished by the end of the month and we can start creating amazing work from this freshly renovated space!

Using Format