Art classes are fun for many kids, but if your child is expressing an interest in making a career of his craft, he might benefit from something more structured and serious. How can a parent know which courses are most likely to teach the techniques and philosophies that can help kids build an impressive portfolio? One ActivityHero provider shares tips to help parents find the right fit for their art-minded offspring.
By Haley Burress
You’ve spotted the signs: Those little clues that make you wonder if your child may be destined for a future in the fine arts. Your child’s notebooks may be covered in cartoons or illuminated by illustrations. Perhaps your daughter maxes out your credit card at the local art supply store. Or maybe your son spends endless hours manipulating modeling clay, creating unique characters to star in his stop-motion videos. Or maybe your child has come right out and said he or she wants to go to art school after graduation. Besides praising and supporting your child’s decision, how can you foster creativity and ensure there are plenty of strong pieces in his or her portfolio? Finding an art studio that offers advanced classes, as well as inspiring mentors, can be your saving grace. CD Hullinger, owner at CD’s Kids Art Studio, loves when a family brings in “a brave child who is ready to make a commitment to pursuing creativity, art, and passion.” Here are a few things she says parents should look for when seeking a studio to call “home.”
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Take a Tour of the Space
When it comes to choosing a studio that will guide and inspire your serious artist, first and second impressions matter, so don’t sign up your child until you both pay a visit. Hullinger also encourages parents and prospective students to sit in on classes to see if the location is a good creative fit.
Ask About the Mix of Classes
Make sure that the studio offers space dedicated to your child’s preferred medium, as well as spaces devoted to trying out new things. After all, creatives are often inspired by other media, and your child may want to branch out and try something new for a semester.
Also check to see if technology is available for pursuits such as computer animation, game design and anime, but don’t shrug off good old-fashioned canvas and paint. A well-rounded studio experience will offer a nice mix of both traditional and modern media..
Finally, determine if your studio of choice has a series of classes that are focused on building a portfolio and resume for your child. Portfolios are important whether your child chooses to go to art school or become a working artist upon finishing high school.
Studios and instructors should also offer some classes, or at least mentor sessions, that teach teens how to interview for college programs, how to deal with rejection, and how to get plugged in with local creatives.
Find Out if “Open Studio Time” Is Offered
When visiting the studio, ask if your child will have access to “open studio time” (time when they are permitted to work in the studio during non-class-time). Open studio time provides additional opportunities for students to grow and to create in the company of other artists. It’s also helpful if your child chooses a medium such as pottery or silk screening, for which you don’t have equipment at home.
Count the Number of Instructors
Look for an art studio that features more than one instructor, advises Hullinger — or, even better, one that features more than one instructor in each class. It’s important for young artists to be introduced to a variety of personalities, passions, media, and experiences. Each instructor will have something unique to teach your child. Also, having multiple instructors in each class means more individualized attention and guidance for your child.
Check the Instructors’ Resumes
The instructors at your studio of choice should be passionate artists themselves. Look for a studio that features artists who are well-known, have won awards, or are respected in the art community. It isn’t necessary that instructors tout major credentials or advanced degrees, as many successful artists pursue their craft without attending college.
Finally, confirm that there are instructors who are well-versed in and passionate about the medium that your child wishes to explore. It can be particularly helpful to learn from instructors who have real-world (not just classroom) experience with that medium and have secured paid commissions related to it.
Look for a Personal Connection
Take a close look at the personality of the instructors as well as their interest in your child. Instructors should be educators and mentors for their students, offering up life experiences that the kids can learn from. It is through these instructors that your child can start to develop roots and connections within the local community of artists and creatives. Networking is a crucial component of the artist life, and your child is never too young to start building a foundation of mentors and network connections.
Try Something New Now and Then
Even if you have a favorite studio that is a great fit for your child, consider attending a different location once in a while. In fact, Hullinger recommends exploring courses in an art studio in an entirely new city. She suggests that parents consider heading out of town with their child for a few weeks to seek instruction in a locale that offers a bustling creative community. Some ideas: Head to Chicago for a summer class, or fly to New York City for Fashion Week. Not only is this a great life experience, it also allows your children to cast a wider net for connections, which can come in handy when they are searching for an internship or job.
Looking at art studios for your serious artist can be intimidating, especially if you aren’t exactly the creative type. But as long as you find a studio that is engaging and inspiring — with instructors who have the desire to mentor young students — your child will be in good hands.
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