I guess It’s time I write a post about why I started this blog. Why a blog solely dedicated to art and design for kids? Because I’m just extremely sad that kids aren’t getting enough creativity training in schools, and I want to be able to help change that.
It is imperative that our kids learn how to nurture their creativity, as it will only help them as they grow older. I won’t talk about the studies pertaining to the benefits of arts education for kids, (I’m working on that post….) but rather focus right now on why I’m doing this.
I’ve heard from many people who seem to be as passionate as I am about this topic, and it’s both gratifying and frustrating. (Mostly gratifying.) The frustrating part is seeing art classes dwindling and disappearing in so many schools. My daughter doesn’t get very much art in school, but I didn’t realize she’s one of the lucky ones. Lots of kids have ZERO art in school. And I wonder how many of those kids get any art at home. (Besides a new pack of markers once in a while.) When parents are working full time or don’t feel they are creative themselves, there’s not going to be much room for providing kids with one of the most important life and work skills.
Yep, I said it. One of the most important. Don’t get me wrong. I love math, science, reading, writing, learning in general. But what about all of the buzzwords we’ve been tossing around lately like, “creative thinking”, “thinking outside the box”, “creative problem solving”? Do we learn these supposedly important skills in math class? Nope. We learn them by exploring, observing, expressing, sloshing a big fat paint brush across a giant piece of paper, staring intently at our reflection in a mirror as we try to recreate it with a pencil, trying to build an incredibly tall coil pot, and when it slumps, trying a different approach. No, the lessons learned through art-making can’t be quantified, but they are immense.
I grew up with conflicting messages about art: In second grade, when the teacher asked us all what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I said an artist, she replied, “Oh, you’d better marry someone rich, then!” I didn’t quite understand what she said then, but carried the message with me until I did understand it, and now I cringe when I think of that moment. We’re so impressionable as kids, and so many adults have negative ideas of art as superfluous. Luckily my parents were supportive of my creative calling.
So on to the whole ‘design’ part of my blog. We live in a visual world. You’ve heard this, you experience it on a daily basis. There are ads, cars, buildings, clothes, toys, and parks around us always. Who do you think designs all of these items? Designers, that’s who. People who have been trained in art and design. People who use their creative skills on a daily basis to come up with ideas of things and places that are functional and beautiful. And they get paid cash money to do this!
My point is, designers are a hot commodity in today’s world, and without them, things would be ugly. Utilitarian. Boring. We’d all just go back to bed in the morning instead of being inspired to walk through our beautifully landscaped neighborhood park, or hop in our awesome sports car that looks like a stealth bomber. We wouldn’t be able to choose between our brown leather riding boots or cheetah print flats. We’d be deprived of the play of wood and stainless steel in the coffee shop while we wait for our latte. Things in our world are designed, and kids grow up to have careers to make this happen.
Products for kids have come a long way, too, and I love ’em. There are some kid things out there that rival and even surpass products for adults. When designers tap into their playful sides, beautiful results happen.
Essentially, I’m doing this blog because I just love every aspect of art and design for kids- the way a 3 year old draws his first face and yells in excitement, the way a 13 year old can lose all sarcasm for a moment as she becomes absorbed in collaging. I love the amazing independent toy designers who are creating products that will last for generations. I love seeing little boys in skinny jeans and little girls reading beautifully illustrated picture books. I especially love all of the other adults out there who feel as passionately as I do about this subject, and are adding their projects, products, thoughts and teachings to the mix.
Still with me? This was a long post, so thanks for reading. I hope you’ll leave your comments- and please feel free to join my Google+ group Kid Art and Design. It’s very new, so I’m still trying to set a tone there and get people posting, but I do hope we can have some great conversations there, share tips, projects, ideas, whatever. Come join!