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CERF+: How did you come to know CERF+? Or How did you learn about CERF+?

Craig Thibodeau: I’d 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.

CERF+: What help or resources did CERF+ provide you with?

CT: We’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 recovery 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.

CERF+: How can artists use the Studio Safety Guide and Poster to be better informed?

CT: The Studio Safety Guide details a variety of key 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 a specific 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.

CERF+: How can an artist incorporate studio safety into their practice?

Lily Buffet

CT: 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.

CERF+: How can an artist balance finding an affordable and accessible space with safety considerations?

CT: 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 make the decision of whether to work from home or not a quick one.  If you your house burns down with a fire that started in your studio and you 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 on.

CERF+: Why does an artist need business insurance?

CT: 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, to put it simply.

CERF+: What have you learned about emergency preparedness and studio safety from your years of experience?

CT: 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.

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