The Art of Mirriam Neal

& You’ll Be in a World of Pure Imagination (or, a brief workspace tour)

Things happen when you sprain an ankle and have a hard time hobbling anywhere – they pile up. Things pile up on desks and chairs and the floor and by the time you can walk easily again, your once-organized chaos has reverted back to a simpler form: catastrophe. Now that my foot has healed, I buckled down to clear out and re-organize my workspace so I can paint, draw, and write without using a ball of string to find my way out again. Since I love seeing tours (be they in video or picture form) of art studios and workspaces, I decided to make a small tour of my own. Commence away!


I need to keep my space whimsical but functional, with bits and pieces that inspire me. It all tends to gravitate toward the magical; like ‘if Gandalf had been a Ravenclaw Professor.’ Probably teaching the History of Magic and Charms.

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On the right side of my desk I have a box containing all my watercolors (the top is decorated with a Celtic-style sun/moon emblem, made by my friend Ian). On top of that is a box that holds the pencils and pens I use for my artwork. Standing on the box are a little brass leprechaun from my friend Hannah George, and a rat skull from a coffee shop in Omaha. Sitting on the waterproofed slab of wood are various jars holding sea salt, water, dip pens, paintbrushes, feathers, rulers, and two magic wands for all my painting + spell-casting needs.

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To the right of my desk, siting on my vintage steamer trunk, is the printer (covered with rabbit fur to help it match the rest of the room) and a letter tray; the letter tray holds all my ink bottles, water droppers, watercolor tins, tape, and odds and ends. It also features another jar of feathers, a volcanic stone mortar + pestle, a hornet’s nest, Boba Fett, the Ancient One, a Predator, a Galor-class Kardassian Warship, and AARRRGH! from Trollhunters (my favorite show in the world next to Prison Break).

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On the left side of my desk I have a stack of Chinese calligraphy paper upon which sits some vellum envelopes, a box of colored pencils, a stack of leather-bound journals, a wooden raven, several bottles of glitter, my crystals, and Vortigern, the skull I use when give art lessons. (Leaning against the pencil box is George’s foot. George is a decorative skeleton whose body resides in Florida. George’s foot is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Don’t ask me why.)

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After that comes the crate with my various pads of art paper, sketchbooks, envelopes, and extra journals. It’s guarded by Jareth, Newt, and Snart; as well as Gringott’s. Also seen are my waxes and seals, and two jars of miscellany, including my pipe and a fan (printed with samurai. It doesn’t get much cooler, iron war fans excepted).

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Underneath my desk lies the rest of the artistic miscellany – the leather folder in which I stuff my completed artwork; old sketchbooks, jars of magic things (from Melody, who gifted me George’s foot), old sketchbooks, paper cutters, and the like. I also have my favorite art + design books lined up; John Howe, Alan Lee, Tony Diterlizzi, Ed Org, Alphonse Mucha, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, and others. Sitting on top of ‘The Hobbit: Art & Design’ is my Loch Ness Monster, Vincent; a gift from my bro Lauren and knitted by her sister. (His name is Vincent because he’s dark blue + glittery and therefore starry.)

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The walls feature a unicorn, masks, Thorin’s map, a Carnival poster from when my dad was a sophomore in high school, a painting of Big Ben (painted by my sister), Studio Ghibli prints, keys, lights, and some paintings I’ve done for myself – Frankenstein’s Creature (specifically Luke Goss’s portrayal from the BBC Miniseries), Jareth the Goblin King, Prince Nuada, and Reylo.

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And there you have it! My workspace keeps me inspired; not only because I curate things I love but because so much of what you see was given to me by friends and family (seriously I think maybe half of what you see was bought by me + for me).

What does your workspace look like? Please let me know in the comments!

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