How to organize art paper in 4 easy steps

By Nicole Tinkham
How to organize art paper in 4 easy steps

Is your art room in need of some serious help? Does it look like a creative explosion went off in there? If you can’t see the floor or are spending way too much valuable studio time searching for what you need, we can help. Storing paper always seems to be a struggle among artists. It’s important to keep art paper in a safe place where it won’t get ruined. Plus you most likely have large quantities of it as well as size variations which only add to the storage struggle. On top of all that, you also have to consider what to do with all those scrap pieces floating around the house. Feel overwhelmed yet? Luckily, we have a 4 step system to organizing art paper that works! Now let’s get started.

Step #1: Look at what you have
The first step in getting your art paper organized is taking a look at what you have. We bet after collecting scraps here and there around the art room (and the rest of the house), you’ll discover you have WAY more than what you thought! Clear off your art table, dining table or an area on the floor so you can lay everything out. When we say everything, we mean everything. Get out every piece of scrap paper, crumbled paper, paper towel, tissue paper, and whatever else you can find that you were saving for a future project. Getting it all organized at once will save you a huge headache later.

Once you have everything in front of you, sift through and toss anything that you want to get rid of. If you don’t see yourself ever using it in the future, toss it! Trust us you need all the extra space you can get. Once you have ONLY the paper you’ll be keeping for future projects in front of you, it’s time to move onto the next fun step of sorting.

Step #2: Sort paper into piles

The first things to do when sorting your art paper is separate the full sheets with the scrap pieces. You should have 2 main piles. Next you’ll get more specific with your sorting by creating categories. For instance, you may decide to sort by color or texture. There’s no right or wrong method for doing this but make your system work with the paper you have in front of you. Here’s a list of some ways you can begin sorting:

•    Color
•    Size
•    Texture
•    Season/holiday
•    Pattern
•    Manufacturer
•    Theme
•    Polka dots
•    Stripes
•    Flowers

Start sorting your paper into different categories. Do this by grouping paper together in various piles around your space. It doesn’t matter what system you use to do this as long as it makes sense and works for you.

That’s what getting organized is all about. Create systems that WORK for you. Think about how easily you can find things. What are you currently struggling with when it comes to finding what you’re looking for? What will fix these problems? What types of paper do you use most of? What kind of projects are you working on? All of these questions are specific to you as an artist so be sure to keep them in mind when putting together categories.

Step #3: Choose a storage option

Storing art paper is probably the most difficult part of the process. There are so many different types of organization bins, drawers, and files but not all of them will be ideal for you and your needs. Here are just a few ideas to help get you thinking about your options.

Magazine file

magazine file

Letter tray

letter tray

Wall files

Wall file



File box

File box

File cabinet

file cabinet

When looking for a solution to store art paper remember to consider what will be easiest for you to keep up with, how much space you have in the art room, what size paper you’ll be storing, and how much storage is needed. When it comes to your SCRAP PAPER, we recommend putting smaller pieces in hanging file folders or drawer compartments.
Once you find a storage solution that works for you, the finish line is near! You must also label everything so you can easily find it and place things back where they belong. This may seem tedious but it’ll keep your paper organized in the long run. You can label file folders, drawers, slots, bins, and whatever else you can think of. Most importantly, make sure to be descriptive with your labels. An example might be “purple flowers” or “Christmas scrap paper”. This will make it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Step #4: Maintenance

Keeping things organized for the long haul tends to be a problem for most people. Sure we can get everything organized but can we keep it that way all week, month or even year?? It’s all about following your system every single time. If you take something out, it MUST go back in its place. If you buy a ton of new paper, you need to add it to a category that makes sense or start a new category.  You should also be sorting through your paper collection a few times a year to make sure everything’s in its spot and also get rid of anything you no longer want.

Why is maintenance important? If you don’t keep up with your organization throughout the year, it’s like starting all over again from scratch, sorting and creating a new system. We know you wouldn’t want that, would you?

Organizing art paper is only difficult if you make it difficult. Don’t stress out over it. Clear plenty of time in your day to sit down and focus on getting organized. Follow the 4 easy steps mentioned in this blog, find a system that works for you, and take your time on it. Spending some extra time on it now will save you loads of time in the future.

Tell us, what’s your favorite method for storing art paper? Let us know in the comments!

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