back to top

8 Inspiring Women Show Us Where They Get Their Most Creative Work Done

The desks of songwriters, novelists, interior decorators, and illustrators.

Posted on

1. Jewlery designer Nadirah Bostick surrounds herself with life and light while working.

"I really enjoy my workspace because it's basically a sunroom with windows on three walls. I take advantage of all the extra sunlight and surround myself with lots of plants. Even on gray days my office feels bright, which has such an impact on my creative flow. When I'm processing orders, I usually listen to independent news podcasts, but I play something more upbeat when being creative."

Nadirah Bostick

"Because my work has so many tiny components, I make an effort to keep my office organized. Things get chaotic pretty quickly when I'm in design mode, but keeping organized is essential for running my small business efficiently."

— Nadirah Bostick, Aquarian Thoughts

2. Author E.J. Mellow created a world of inspiration with trinkets, art, and music in a tiny corner of her NYC apartment.

E.J. Mellow

"Living in NYC causes any inch of space to become a Swiss Army Knife of functionality. For a long time I only had my bed or couch as my 'work' area. Acquiring a wall to fit a desk was something I took very seriously. I spent time curating a mini world of inspiration and beauty in which I could create other worlds of inspiration and beauty. Adding fresh flowers, a lit candle, and a pot of tea is a must for me to feel ready to settle into a long writing session."

@ejmellow /

"I often listen to soundscapes over music when I work, particularly if I’m trying to channel the various settings my characters are in. Is it raining where they are? Are they in a forest? A city? Being comfortable in my work environment allows me to easily get lost in the world I’m developing. It’s super recharging looking at my wall of art and trinkets given to me by special people in my life. At the end of the day, my desk is my haven."

E.J. Mellow is the award-winning author of the Dreamland series and her most recent novel, The Animal Under the Fur. Get it from Amazon for $15.99, Barnes & Noble for $15.99, or find it at your local bookstore on Indiebound.


3. Designer Jennet Liaw likes to keep her space neat and neutral so she can easily switch between projects and styles at the drop of a hat.

Jennet Liaw

"As a freelance artist, self-discipline is key. Without the constant presence of others around to keep me in check, I really rely on the environment I create for myself to draw that fine line between inspiration and distraction. As far as I've come, I still don't trust myself any more than I did at the start of my independence to stay on beat...but what I do know now is how to fabricate that motivation when I'm starting to feel sluggish. Creating a good playlist specifically associated with working hours does wonders."

Jennet Liaw

"It's typical for me to be designing, say, a line of merchandise, a brand identity, a mural, a flash set of tattoos, and a social campaign all in the same week. Because I'm always juggling somewhere between five and 10 multidisciplinary projects at a time, the priority is on being ready to jump between styles at any moment. Keeping my creative space extremely minimal ups my mobility. If ideas are getting stale and the sun is out, I want there to be very little that holds me back from grabbing my bag and jumping out to switch up the scene to turn up my mental pace. The pale-skinned, angst-filled, independent artist archetype has always been a looming fear."

— Jennet Liaw is a freelance designer and artist . Check out her personal website and Instagram.

4. Comic illustrator Christine feeds off the energy of the people around her, so she spends a lot of time in cafés.

@yeahitschill / Instagram: @yeahitschill

"My process depends on the type of work I’m doing. If I’m in the early stages of a project and I need to come up with concepts and sketches, I make my best work at my desk in my room after I’ve had tea and meditated. I also like to do a few warmup sketches before I really start working out my ideas. For example, I recently made a playlist of Motown and hip-hop songs. During the duration of the song, I sketch the artist. It really helps me get into the mood to create."

@yeahitschill / Instagram: @yeahitschill

"If I already know what I’m going to draw, I prefer to be in a coffee shop around other people. It’s really easy for me to get distracted and procrastinate if I feel like I know what I have to do, so being around other people helps me feel accountable. I bring my iPad and draw while listening to podcasts. I also use the Flora app to stay off my phone — it sets a timer and grows a virtual tree. If you go on any other app before the timer is up the tree dies. It actually really helps!

A few times a month my friend Samantha and I go to a coffee shop or restaurant in Brooklyn to get our work done together. We eat and catch up, then I work on administrative tasks and planning. It’s invaluable having a friend who does the same things as me to have as a sounding board and motivator."

—Christine is an artist, illustrator, and author of the Instagram comic, Yeah It's Chill.


5. Writer Rachel Lyon likes to work among sentimental treasures that remind her of friends and family.

Rachel Lyon

"My desk faces southwest, so my writing room is flooded with sunlight for most of the afternoon. My plants have really been flourishing back here. My pothos hangs by the window and two ferns, an ugly old French lavender plant, and cuttings from my mother's aggressively healthy aloe plant sit on the sill. In the winter when it gets dark earlier I tend to get melancholy, so I took the Christmas lights from our tree once January rolled around and hung them around the window to stay cheerful after the sun goes down. The plants have been sneakily wrapping themselves around the lights when I'm not looking."

@shereadswithcats /

"I inherited my writing desk from my grandmother. It's an antique ladies desk, which means it sits pretty low to the ground — I had to put it on four little shims in order to sit at it in my big modern desk chair. The chair I got from the marketing agency where I used to work as a copywriter. They were moving offices, and giving away some of the furniture they didn't need. I use a paper calendar because I find it's easier to keep track of my commitments when I can see them laid out spatially. I get a new kitten calendar every year for Christmas from my mother-in-law, which I find hilarious. Sometimes when I'm working one of my actual cats will come and snooze in the big ugly cat house in the corner. It is all very cozy.

I've always been a person who likes to surround myself with little treasures. The mug in the picture was made by a friend of mine. The rug I got on eBay — it's from Afghanistan. Lined up on the window are three little glass baubles that refract the sun: a green lion, a fishbowl, and a yellow flower paperweight. I've also hung up this vintage seagull mobile I found at Brooklyn Flea, and a red glass balloon I bought in Venice. It reminds me of the children's book The Red Balloon. I was going to give it to a young relative of mine for Christmas one year, but I ended up keeping it for myself because I loved it so much."

Rachel Lyon is the author of Self-Portrait with Boy. Get the book from Amazon for $17.68, from Barnes & Noble for $19.67, or find it at your local bookstore on Indiebound.

6. Designer Justina Blakeney wants her office to feel like a home away from home.

"I started my career working from home as a freelancer. Though I know have an office and employees, I still wanted my workplace to feel very homey. For that reason, having a beautiful, workable kitchen to cook meals in and an area to chill out in was very important. I chose this space for the high ceilings, windows, and the proximity to my home (it's just a block away). It's organized so that everything that's visually pleasing is displayed in the loft-space, and everything else is tucked away in our storage area."

"I like being surrounded by meaningful objects, photos, and artwork. I rotate them pretty frequently to keep fresh inspiration around. I love having a bunch of plants and botanical wallpaper because it makes me feel like I'm outdoors!

When I'm writing, I prefer quiet but I like to listen to music when I'm designing. I like to work in my office chair. I splurged on a Steelcase chair about eight years ago and it was one of the best purchases I've ever made. I spend more time in my office than I do at home, so it's vital for me to love where I work!"

Justina Blakeney is the founder of Jungalow and author of The New Bohemians Handbook. Get it from Amazon for $18, from Barnes & Noble for $18.73, or find it at your local bookstore on Indiebound.


7. Comicbook artist Yumi Sakugawa practices a ceremonial ritual to open her spirit to allow the creativity to flow through.

Yumi Sakugawa

"Lately, I've been experimenting with the idea that creative work sessions can be treated as a magical ceremonial ritual. Before I sit down and work, I first ground myself and mindfully attune my body and surroundings: I imagine a cord reaching from the base of my spine to the core of the earth. Then, I light a candle, pour some tea (I love Manifestation Tea), ring some bells, and take a few drops of flower essences. I then set a timer for somewhere between 30 minutes to two hours, and offer that time to the universe. This seems like a lot, but it really isn't and it works wonders. It makes me feel like I'm not only working for my own gains, but I am also co-creating with a primal force greater than myself and that, eventually, the work I do will have reverberations in the greater interconnected energetic web we all belong to."

@yumisakugawa /

"Though I have a formal home office space, more often than not I end up working at the living room dining table. It gets way more sunlight and has a great view of a tree and the downtown skyline. Even though I love pretty notebooks and journals, I typically do my brainstorming and writing on blank sheets of computer paper. While I'm mulling over my ideas I set down my 0.38 black Muji pen and play with the rocks and crystals I've set up. Sometimes I even get up and dance! Even putting on a shade of lipstick or wearing a particular necklace or outfit helps put me in that childlike feeling of playfulness that I believe is supportive to the creative process.

Once the timer is up, I close the ritual space by blowing out the candles, ringing some bells, and expressing gratitude to the universe for all the ideas that flowed through me during that window of time. Everything, not just work, is so much easier when you ask a greater cosmic intelligence for guidance and support."

Yumi Sakugawa is a comic book artist and a published author. You can order her newest book, The Little Book of Life Hacks: How to Make Your Life Happier, Healthier, and More Beautiful from Amazon for $11.92, from Barnes & Noble for $13.55, or find it at your local bookstore on Indiebound.

8. And singer-songwriter Chloe Lilac can write her songs literally anywhere as long as she has her notebook.

Chloe Lilac

"I originally bought this as an English notebook when I was homeschooled, and just like with every other notebook I've ever had, it turned into a songwriting notebook. I never use a laptop or phone because it feels far less personal if I write in a preset font that everyone else uses, rather than it being my own font that sometimes only I can read."

@chloelilac /

"I used to lose interest in the notebooks I would write in, let them float around my room and just pick up and write on whatever paper I could find. This one just kind of stuck with me though. I recently started putting the passes from different record labels I go to on the cover just for the subtle flex for anyone who sees’s still so wild to me. I usually write in my room on my piano or guitar, or in the studio during a session. I love to write on the train too, as well as the fire escape. Honestly, anywhere is a valid writing spot for me but those are the coziest."

Chloe Lilac is a singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn. Follow her on Soundcloud or Spotify.