We chose Mint because it’s such a fresh growth oriented name. See our full page on the subject here.
Mint fills a hole in the Detroit arts and nonprofit scene, which has many youth organizations focused on dance, music, theater and writing. Until now, none concentrated on visual and digital arts, or on creative career paths.
Yet Detroit has a growing array of art galleries and studios – and artists have moved to the city to live and work, drawn by affordable housing and a creative environment. This creative culture thrives but many artists do not, scraping by. We want to change that and teach young artists basic business and career skills that will raise their confidence and incomes.
We have plenty of evidence, found in an organization that is our role model: Artists for Humanity, established in 1991, hires up to 250 Boston area creative teens for projects such as designing cool new Reebok tennis shoes or a recycled paper flower installation for a major bank. About 85 of its teens are paid to paint and create art in an oversize studio during the summer.
Artists for Humanity sold or leased more than $1.5 million in fine art, design services and other creative products, and the average teen earned $2,153 in wages and or commissions in 2014. AFH senior leadership serve as Mint advisors and mentors, and have already helped four other similar organizations establish themselves.
In Detroit, Mint is creating strong partnerships with local and regional nonprofit organizations including Junior Achievement, Downtown Boxing Gym, the Sphinx Organization and the Ruth Ellis Center. And in only 18 months, we track several successful Mint alumni who are using the lessons and relationships developed Mint to thrive.
Our other hope for success comes from the diversity and commitment of our co-founders, who bring artistic, business and community building skills to Mint.
They are a diverse group of youth of many backgrounds and ethnicities, joined by a love of art and creativity. Many are from Detroit but they also come from Ann Arbor, Shelby Township and other suburbs. They start with a proficiency in art and a zeal to learn more about creative careers and to sell their work.
Mint recruits in several Detroit Public Schools high schools – and has artists who attend Cass Tech, Renaissance, Detroit School of Arts and Western International. Our teens attend those schools as well as Henry Ford Academy, Community High School in Ann Arbor, Ferndale High School and several private or charter schools.
For our summer jobs program, we partner with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent and hire a wider variety of youth including some who are in college. They also must have creative talent and a desire to make creative work that goes to local nonprofits and our pop ups.
We work with experienced artists from metro Detroit – including Dorothy Jett-Carter, who runs a small training company, Linda Buck, who has taught in an array of schools, Donald Calloway, who teaches and adores children and B.J. Foster, a Detroit artist and educator. Muralist Hubert Massey, who’s the vice president of our board of directors, artist Paula Schubatis, sculptor Austen Brantley and other artists have spoken to our workshops.
Michigan State University’s First Amendment Clinic shares information on copyright and protecting creative work.
For new workshops we seek diverse and experienced professionals who own or lead galleries, art consulting and could make budgeting and business planning creative and fun.
We hustle a lot and sell a lot of art. We expect our budget to come from earned income, individual donations and foundations. We expect to win some grants. And we expect to sell a lot of art and greeting cards (based on teen art) and creative services. Live painting, caricatures and teen photographers for events, creating murals and mosaics, parties and celebrations also will bring in revenue.
As a nonprofit, we expect to use a mix of volunteers and paid staff for our activities and programs. (Right now we’re all volunteers.) Plus we’re creative types and we will come up with new ideas and services.
Hmmm. We will consider ourselves a huge success when a few of our teens’ work show up at the DIA or MOMA or another contemporary museum. We also see success when one of our young artists or alumni has a solo or small group show at The Charles H. Wright or Galerie Camille. And we have a few other measures we are developing including average sales at an art fair that approaches $500, name recognition for Mint – and the share of students who attend college.
For Parents, Young Artists & Family
Practice, practice, practice. And we will offer a lot of professional advice, coaching and insights.
We also will showcase and discuss a variety of career paths that artists may take – from working for the federal government to learning web design programs or product design.
We expect some of our young people to decide art may be too difficult or competitive and pursue other careers. We hope they will become patrons of our Mint Artists, and engaged generous citizens who are creative in other ways.
Mint concentrates on young artists from Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck, and is open to any visual artist who lives in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb or Washtenaw Counties in Michigan. Artists ages 13 to 20 who are not full-time college students are eligible to apply for the learn and earn program and the summer jobs program is open to artists ages 15 to 21. If you have questions, please ask.
Start by showing up at our pop ups and art fairs to get a first hand view of who we are and what we do. Introduce yourself to our staff and volunteers, or become a volunteer yourself. Check out our events page to find out where we’ll be next.
Then review our social media so you see who and what kinds of art are being created and sold.
We are a competitive program so teens must apply to be part of our fall and spring learn and earn program. Applications are accepted in August and September and again in December and January. Teens submit samples of their creative work and explain why they will be an asset to Mint – and why they long to join Mint.
For our summer jobs, please apply through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent which generally has a March deadline – and drop our executive director a note if you really want to join us.
It’s a long shot. Younger artists will be considered individually based on demonstrated talent, maturity and parents’ support. We hope to add some workshops for younger artists in 2018; one of our advisors wants us to call this program Junior Mints! And some of our volunteer activities are open to families – so please sign up!
Mint is open to all talented young artists who already have a portfolio of creative work. For our ‘learn and earn’ programs which take teens to the Palmer Park Art Fair, youth who are selected donate one (or more) original pieces of work, valued at at least $50.
Then those invited to participate in pop ups and other art fairs including the Belle Isle Art Fair must reserve their space and pay 20 percent of their total sales that weekend to Mint. (This is below other nonprofit arts organizations in the area. Funds are used for supplies, promotion and to develop new workshops and support for the teens)
Mint’s summer creative jobs program pays participants $8.25 to $9.50 an hour – and a few youth may earn extra money by working extra projects outside assigned hours.
We know that transportation is one of the big issues many young people face in Detroit. So we’re discussing ideas with other youth nonprofits. If you know an auto dealer or someone else who will donate a van to Mint, please tell them we’ll take it tomorrow – and it does not have to be Mint green! In the meantime, we occasionally will offer rides to young artists to and from events and workshops.
Our focus is on artists who are in high school – or at least not quite grown up. We may expand to college age artists in a couple of years.
However, Mint is licensing some of its materials and expertise to create workshops for other organizations. If you want to sponsor one and are able to bring in around 10 artists, please contact us.
Mint follows all state and federal laws and expects to be a “best places to work” employer in a few years.
We are mindful of the number of hours worked, especially during the school year.
We explain to our youth how the work world works and share details on the difference between independent contractors and workers. Mint explains overtime, employer expectations among other concepts.
We are parents ourselves and see ourselves as the aunts and uncles as well as the employers, educators and coaches of our young people. We meet in groups and choose our workshop and other spaces with safety in mind. Youth who are under 17 are always supervised and older teens are given clear rules that include safety and no harassment.
In addition, we are launching a volunteer and board screening process this fall that requires a background check and more.
Parents and grandparents are welcome to sit quietly in the background at workshops and events. Please visit us during our summer jobs too, and we’re glad to share our rules and policies with anyone.
For Art Lovers, Volunteers & Our Supporters
Mint welcomes volunteers for a rainbow of volunteer activities from planning and executing a business of art workshop to helping to sell youth art at a pop up or art fair. We also are looking for people to join our advisory board and board of directors in November or December.
Specific volunteer needs include marketing and public relations director, people to join a fundraising committee, a volunteer coordinator, someone to develop a corporate art sales and leasing program – and others that are posted on VolunteerMatch.
We hold volunteer orientations occasionally. The next one will be held in June.
No, it is an investment in a beautiful or creative work but it is valued at an appropriate level. If you care to make a tax-deductible donation to Mint, you could write a separate check or donate online.
We want to add new workshops for our young artists, and one that will be open to all artists. We are seeking funding for a new program to pair artists in their teens with those in their 70s and 80s – and create a mentorship and collaborative creative work program that will culminate with videos and an exhibit. And we are discussing the possibility of a Mint teen artists gallery in Detroit.
The answer to this is: It depends on the circumstances and the art. Sometimes it belongs to the young people who created it at home or at school (on their own time). Other times it belongs to Mint, either created in our summer creative jobs program or donated as the “price of admission.”
We take ownership seriously. We are careful to spell this out before every assignment, whether it’s live painting, a mural, a summer job or something else. It depends also on who paid for the art supplies and artist time and talents. For our summer creative career program, Mint owns the work and the copyright and grants the youth the chance to show their work in a portfolio or public exhibit. At the art fairs, most of the work belongs to the young ‘learn and earn’ artists – until someone buys it from them.
In many cases, we can arrange this – though of course acquiring all rights comes at a higher cost. We work with graphic designers and photographers as well as painters and drawing artists so there are many options. Let’s discuss the details of your needs and make some fresh art work.
We are starting to sell a few pieces online. ((LINK shop page)) At some point we really want to run an art space and gallery, though our initial efforts fell through.
So to meet our artists and see a greater variety of their art, Mint is in the Palmer Park Art Fair in May, the Belle Isle Art Fair in August and often in the Funky Ferndale Art Fair in September. In addition, we share work on Instagram and Facebook and at a few pop ups. Stay in touch with our upcoming events by signing up for our monthly e-letter.
We accept donations via check, or credit card, especially at our events, and online at Donorbox.
If your employer has a charity matching gift program, we’d love to double up – and are glad to handle some of the paperwork to make that happen.
We also need introductions to foundations that could support Mint and art collectors who will want to buy our “fresh art from Detroit teens.” And we need a variety of supplies and equipment as Mint grows, from canvases to a scanner to blank or one-color silk ties (for a project we hope to launch in 2017). Contact Vickie if you’d like to coordinate an art supply drive for Mint.