San Diego based furniture maker, CERF+ beneficiary and Get Ready Grantee Craig Thibodeau has a lot to be thankful for. He just released his book, The Craft of Veneering, and is working on building one-of-a-kind, commissioned and speculation furniture pieces that feature his masterful skills in marquetry, parquetry, and mechanical/puzzle making. Craig has also been able to count on CERF+ for past emergency relief and a preparedness grant. Follow Craig on Facebook and Instagram.
How did you learn about CERF+?
I’ve known about CERF+ and the help they provide artists long before I needed that help myself. Seems like every time an artist had some catastrophe or natural disaster affect their business, CERF+ was there to help out. A fellow woodworker suggested that we request help from CERF+ during some difficult times we were having and CERF stepped in and helped right away.
What help or resources did you receive from CERF+?
I’ve actually been lucky or unlucky depending on your perspective to have CERF+ help us several times in the past few years. The first time was during a period when my wife had been sick for a long time and ended up needing a liver transplant. CERF+ stepped in and helped us stay afloat financially during her recover when I needed to take long periods of time off to care for her. The second time we asked CERF+ for some assistance happened just last year when a water main near the workshop broke and flooded the shop with 2 feet of water. That put the shop out of commission for several months and again CERF+ stepped in to help keep us afloat.
Why is studio safety important?
As artists, we want to focus our energy on being creative and that’s difficult to do while working in an unsafe environment. Keeping safety in mind when setting up your workspace allows you to focus your energy on being creative rather than worrying about working in an unsafe environment.
How can artists use CERF+’s Safety Guide + Poster to have a safer studio and practice?
The Studio Safety Guide details a variety of key important shop safety details that can be easily checked off as they are dealt with, making your shop safer with minimal extra effort. Each item in the guide covers an important area of shop safety. The poster highlights a number of shop safety concerns in an easy to find format that makes it simple to find important information when you need it.
How can artists incorporate studio safety into their practice?
The easiest way is to use the CERF+ Studio Safety Guide of course, it covers many of the key safety details artists should consider for their workspace. Going through the Guide page by page and checking off the various items as they apply to your own studio will help create a safe environment for artistic work. Also, doing the obvious things like being careful with chemicals and dust will go a long way towards shop safety.
How can artists balance finding an affordable and accessible space with safety considerations?
That’s a tough call as low-cost workspaces are typically lacking in basic necessities like proper safety. I’ve had workspaces that were inexpensive and nice to work in but would be a death trap in a fire. My recent flood is a great example of a workspace that seemed well designed but, in a flood, simply filled with water like a swimming pool causing untold amounts of damage to materials and tools. Often the best workspace is one that combines work and home in one. Many artists start working in a garage or spare bedroom at home and many don’t ever leave. This seems like an ideal system because of low rent and proximity to the home and, as long as you plan accordingly, it can be. Having the correct insurance can make all the difference. Just knowing whether your insurance company will cover losses for a home-based workspace can help make the decision of whether to work from home or not. If you burn down your house with a fire that started in your studio and don’t have the correct insurance you might be in for a serious surprise. Always check with your insurance company before basing your artistic business in your home, it’s a quick phone call that can save lots of hassle and heartbreak later.
Why does an artist need business insurance?
Because if the shop burns down/floods/etc. someone other than the artist will likely be paying for replacing all the tools, materials and lost workpieces. When my shop flooded we had 2 feet of standing water in the shop and being in southern California we didn’t have flood insurance because it wasn’t available. Had the appropriate insurance been available we would have been reimbursed for our losses and been able to recover and get back to work much more quickly.
What have you learned about emergency preparedness and studio safety from your years of experience?
I’ve learned that not being prepared makes life much more difficult and being prepared doesn’t take nearly as much time or effort as people think.