We Got a Studio – Marianne Vander Dussen

We Got a Studio

Where to begin. 

I'm not even really sure where to start, because this studio space has existed for so long in my mind as a place I would find eventually, even though I had no idea how. I drew pictures of it. I wrote specifics into my journal about how it would look. It has been so incredibly real to me over the past year, but it came together over the course of 48 hours last week.

I will give full credit here: my studio partner Emily of Table & Pine Photography is the push behind all of this, and it was her initiative and drive that found the space. She had been searching for a studio for a little while, and had found a gorgeous second floor space right in the heart of downtown. I was both surprised and excited when she reached out with the offer to share the space with me. 

How the space looked when we first leased it

Both of us are in a similar position with our respective businesses; we've both laid the groundwork, built our runways, and have already left the tarmac. But before we each reach cruising altitude, there's still some turbulence yet to overcome, and lots of energy to expel into pushing ourselves to that height.

Hence where sharing the space comes in. Being a solo entrepreneur is lonely work, especially as women. There are challenges, fears and difficult decisions to face that are somewhat unique to being in business for yourself. This is where having a non-competitive partner comes in handy. We'll each be in our own lanes, respectfully sharing and operating the studio space as a business into and of itself, while acting as a sounding board for each others' ideas. We're also both moms of young children, responsible not only to our clients and businesses, but also to our kids. It's a tightrope, and comforting when you're not the only one feeling like you're wobbling along. 

So over the course of the next few months, we'll be renovating and updating the studio to suit both our needs. I plan on bringing a minimalist setup to the space, to keep it as uncluttered as possible. At home, I have drawers full of art supplies that I rarely use, so it doesn't make sense to clutter up my new space when I'm trying to keep my mind as clear as possible. I'd like to feel like I could leave at a moment's notice, in case the space gets rented out by the movie industry, other photographers, or even as a cool venue for a pop-up wedding, bridal shower, etc. 

I personally believe that downtown North Bay is primed for a renaissance. There are a lot of people who don't believe in our downtown, and a lot of people who do. I've thrown my lot in firmly with those who believe that our downtown is the beating heart of our city. It's where ideas become businesses, and businesses become landmarks. The downtown core is what makes us special as a city; you can find big box stores and strip malls anywhere, but the flavours and experiences of local businesses are one of a kind. 

How it's currently going

In that spirit, we plan on making the space feel both homey and northern. It will pay tribute to its historical roots with the exposed brick walls and high ceilings, while featuring modern upgrades such as a dark shiplap accent and contemporary white walls. It will be a space that inspires, encourages, and pushes you past what you believed you were capable of.

Whether you're taking an art class for me, or running a branding shoot with Emily, we will ensure that you leave our space feeling like you can go out and take on the world...because you can. We can't wait to support you on your journey while undertaking our own. 


  • Michael Adkins

    It has been two years. What insights can you share? Did it turn out financially viable? Are you still in the studio space? Any regrets? I think artists such as myself dream of having a public studio space, but honestly, it is hard to make the space viable for a source of business income.
    Marianne Vander Dussen replied:
    Hi Mike, I’m so sorry that it took me SO long to respond, it turns out that my website provider (Shopify) never notified me when I got comments and I had to buy a special app in order to even be able to respond to this.

    I wound up moving back to my home studio not because of the expense, but because of the lighting. The studio space I had was gorgeous, but the lighting was fugitive and was making filming impossible. If I were to go back, I think in order to justify the expense I would need to do a heavy amount of in-person teaching and workshops, or have a steady stream of income from online courses to support it. Right now I’m happy to be at home again, because with my kids now in kindergarten I need to be on the curb for school bus drop off and pick up. Thanks for such a great question!

  • Raziya

    Thanks a lot for this opportunity,i love to see your paintings and you are helping a lot of us with our struggle with some tips.

  • Susan

    Looking forward to seeing the progress as I’m just getting my art room together at home, the new windows are due to go in this week following a 12 week (!) supplier delay…

  • Deborah Stone

    Your adventure is so inspiring. I look forward to more readings of your story!

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