Posted on

Why Will Langford believes in our new Youth Arts Competition

Will Langford visits a Sheefy McFlymural in Eastern Market. (Photo by © Will Langford, using a tripod)

When we leap into something new and big, it helps to bring along an optimist and a make-magic-happen person like Will Langford.

Known as Will The Poet, he has a history of helping Mint and our young artists. And he also served as the voice of Michigan State University’s “Empower Extraordinary” campaign. He will use his positive energies and extraordinary network in Detroit to lead Mint in a new initiative: the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition.  It launched this week and runs through Aug. 4.

He was the first and best choice when Mint executive director Vickie Elmer came up with the idea to create a competition to engage and encourage children to be creative in these challenging times. He immediately said yes.

“I’ve engaged in the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition because I believe that Detroit is wealthy beyond our wildest dreams—in that our youth bear such light, intellect, and sheer talent,” said Langford.  “And Detroit is home to that undeniably spirit of hustle and hope, because when I look around me, I see artists, educators, parents, business owners, and co-conspirators who are committed to the growth of the Motor City.”

Children and youth who are age 21 or younger, as of Aug. 4, and live in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in Michigan are encouraged to create visual art or poetry based on the three prompts Will wrote.

Those prompts and a lot of other information about the Youth Arts Competition are available on our website.  Completed poetry and art also may be uploaded there.

Will Langford is a Detroit native, a poet, teaching artist, and Fulbright scholar. He is the 2017 Motown Mic Spoken Word Artist of the Year. He divides his energy between education and community development projects in his hometown, East Africa, and the East Lansing area, where he is a Ph.D. student at Michigan State in curriculum Instruction and teacher education.

Will “The Poet” Langford (Photo: © Rachel Laws Myers, used with permission

Will joined the Mint board of directors in January.  Yet he already is well known as an active Mint supporter, a volunteer and ambassador who buys Mint art.

His idea for blackout poetry was featured in the Mint blog series Creative Ideas for Challenging Times.  And since Mint regularly brings poetry into its Creative Summer Jobs program, it was easy and smart to add poems to our competition this summer.

Now Will is working to bring in businesses and nonprofits that believe in children and creativity and will donate prizes, awards cash or promotion to our competition. He and Mint have landed some beauties including Arts & Scraps, Avalon International Breads, Confident Brands, Jo’s Gallery, North End Customs, Sherwood Forest Art Gallery and others.  We welcome your organization to join us in this joyful initiative; email us at mintartistsguild@gmail.com if you’re interested.

And we hope that you or your children, grandchildren, nieces, cousins, siblings, best friends, roommates and others who are 21 or less will enter the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition.  Will cannot wait to see what you write, draw or create!

Posted on

Chalk creativity and creating hope

Mint Artists Blake Hern helped us launch the Cheerful Chalk Challenge with this beauty on Detroit’s East Side. (Photo: Blake Hern)

 

From hopscotch to tic-tac-toe,  there’s plenty of ways chalk can cure your boredom. It’s perfect for spring and summer activities. So we hope you join Mint Artists Guild’s Cheerful #ChalkChallenge

We launched this last week and already are seeing sidewalk art and encouraging messages in Detroit and around the country and the world, some under the #chalkyourwalk hashtag.  

So here’s two more ways to join the chalk fun and two other creative ways to engage while sheltering at home:

Chalk caricatures. Chalk is a tricky medium to work with, messy yet fun. Test your own and a friend’s artistic skills and draw each other as funny exaggerated characters, using phone photos. If you’re up for a real challenge, try doing it together – at least 6 feet apart. Funniest drawing wins all the marbles.

Have a family photoshoot.   Family photo shoots and portraits have been around for centuries for royalty and wealthy families, then for more  families through the 1960s, 1970s and 80s. Let’s bring them back.  Pastbook offers 30 creative family photo ideas. Put on your fanciest or silliest threads.  Set up your smartphone/camera and take a photo to document this monumental time in our history.

Mint Artists Michael Johnson left a positive message on his sidewalk. (Photo: Michael Johnson)

Spread the creativity and inspiration. Go around your neighborhood leaving inspiration quotes for all the world to see! You’d be surprised at how much the little positive things affects others greatly. So grab some chalk and go make a difference. 

Create your  family tree.  With everyone being safe at home, this is a perfect time to interview  relatives who live with you or call those who don’t.  Turn this into a fun interview-style activity to learn more about your roots. Use this family history questionnaire – 175 questions from Bobcats World – to start a journey of discovery.  Follow our previous posts with advice on interviewing your Grandma. 

Check back next week for more creative activities for challenging times.  If you want to recommend some, please email us your ideas!

Posted on

Knit, sew, sing: Creativity in Complicated Times, pt 3

Learn to knit or crochet during this time. Photo Imani / Unsplash

 

We all deserve a boost after being at home for anywhere from nine to 15 days.  So here’s some recipes for boosting yourself – by trying some new artsy activities or preparing yourself to land a summer job.

These activities may seem frivolous in these challenging times, but they are not.  They give you something valuable:   Joy and a sense of accomplishment. And they take your mind off the things we cannot control and put them squarely on things we can control – and create.

So let’s get creative!

Learn to knit or crochet.  Once you learn the basics, knitting can be relaxing, almost like meditation.  My friend Wendy Shepherd, executive director of Mittens For Detroit, shared two YouTube channels  – this and that one and also Tin Can Knits for getting started.  “It’s also a great opportunity for the kids to video connect with their elders who knit, to sit and knit alone together,” said Shepherd.  If you need to de-stress as you learn, read these wonderful pointers from Interweave, which develops magazines, information and events for crafters.

Sing along to the ’60s.  Yes, that will bring on The Beatles hits such as “Here Comes the Sun” and “Love Me Do.”  But also sing beautiful songs along  with Irma Thomas belting “Time Is on My Side” or Aretha Franklin singing “Do Right Woman” and The Temptations “Get Ready.”  Select a couple every day from Pitchfork’s list of 200 great ’60s songs.  Singing releases endorphins and raises our mood, strengthens our immune system – and calms the brain, researchers have found.

Create a scrap art project.   Start saving items from your recycling container and scanning the ground when you take your dog or kid brother out for a walk.  Stash egg cartons and cardboard boxes; dry orange peels or scraps of wood. Flatten old cans. Snare mostly empty paint cans from your garage. Then look for inspiration. Or look to the sun or nature for an image. If you are lucky enough to land a free creative learning supplies kit from Arts & Scraps, Mint and Brilliant Detroit, you will have plenty of materials. (These will be distributed free to Detroit families through Brilliant Detroit.)

Create or update your resume.   Download a sample resume, especially one for a young person, and use it as a guide. Or follow the excellent advice outlined in The Balance Careers post, starting by writing down all the types of work and awards. Make sure you sell yourself and state why you’ll be an excellent person to hire. You may want to enlist someone to assist you with this and remind you of some of your accomplishments. After you finish your first resume, definitely ask three adults to edit and review it and suggest improvements.  

Some people will want to take it a step further: That could look like a LinkedIn profile. Or it could mean a work program, such as Americorps that is hiring soon. If you live in Detroit and are ages 14 to 24, register with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent now to help land a job this summer, including those with Mint for creative youth.  If you live elsewhere, see if your city is running a youth employment program and connect to it.   

We are sharing some virtual activities on our Facebook page so follow us for those. And we will share some more ideas next week, including some from our creative community. So send us yours today!

 

Posted on

Fly into creative activities during coronavirus shutdowns

 

If you are stranded without a school or university schedule, or staying home as a precaution against COVID-19, you may have been handed a gift of time. 

It may not feel that way now, with galleries and museums closed and friends far flung and everyone feeling off balance or afraid.  Yes, we need to practice social distancing, wash hands regularly and thoroughly and take other precautions outlined by the CDC and World Health Organization.

You and almost everyone else are missing out on a lot – art shows and plays, senior trips and so much more. And yet, this time could be when you create your first masterpiece that will hang in MOMA or appear on Netflix in a few years.

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will,” best-selling author Stephen King said. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

So let’s get past that- and start working on superb goals for the next two to three weeks. Here’s some creative ideas:

Paint and create. Create a friendly competition with another young artist to see who completes more work in the next two weeks. Work on several pieces at once, like artist Shirley Woodson.  Create work inspired by the world today, or imagine and create a better one.  “Write about some of your ideas for a better home, school, neighborhood or church. What’s missing? What could you add to or take away from the world you live in now? Draw or paint or create a collage or clay sculpture to represent your ideas,” suggested artist and educator Adwoa Muwzea in answer to my request for ideas on Facebook. 

Learn to cook. Your family may feel stressed because there’s no real routine. Or your grandma or mom may be worried about money, about work or other things. So offer to make dinner for 10 days and then come up with creative recipes – from your family history or culture or from a great collection of recipes online. Cookbooks work too, especially ones aimed at newcomers like these six, including The Starving Artist Cookbook . It was written by artist, illustrator and graphic designer Sara Zin.

Make money.  Yes, start a small business and stash some cash.  My friend Wendy Shepherd, who has worked myriad creative jobs including delivering tap dancing messages, suggested making, bottling and selling handmade hand sanitizer, because it is in short supply.  Or offer your services as a babysitter, dog walker, photographer, personal chef or organizer to neighbors and friends. Be thoughtful and cautious about this. Do something small and safe, and if you have questions about it, speak to parents or trusted advisors.

Create with your pet. Dedicate some of the extra time at home to your pet, my pal Pam Murray suggests.  “Write stories from the pets’ point of view. Illustrate or film the story from the pets’ point of view, which could be pretty amusing if you have a Corgi- nothing over knee level,” she wrote on Facebook.

Write a play – in a day.  Sometimes a short project gets creatives revved up and ready for more. This brilliant idea for a play writing competition for college students was shared by my friend, theater and events consultant Nick Rowley. And it will leave you with time for other creative work:

Catch up. Your room’s a mess and you are behind on AP Calculus. So set aside two to three days for each and work diligently, using the pomodoro method to catch up. (Set a timer for 25 to 35 minutes and ignore everything else while you work diligently on a task. Then take a short break and start again.) Some people may need to catch up on their sleep, too.  Go for that after you have finished cleaning your room.

For artists and writers who appreciate specific ideas or prompts, we recommend creating art or writing a story or poem around the theme Abuela, Grandma, Bibi or on Resilience.  (Mint is working with Hannan Center on an art and storytelling show focused on Abuela and resilience seems like it will be a worthwhile topic for this year.) 

If you need help being productive while working at home, Fast Company magazine has excellent advice. If you need help achieving your goals, read our seven tips and find an accountability partner – another artist or your sister.

The key is getting started – today – on a creative or entrepreneurial project.  If you want to share your work in progress, please post it by Wednesday at 5 pm EST on Instagram and tag us @mintartistsguild .

Come back on Wednesday morning for more ideas on making the most of the time at home, with some incredibly creative projects for young creatives.

Photo: Vojtěch Petr on Unsplash

Posted on

We are creating a beautiful partnership with Arts & Scraps

Arts & Scraps previous pop up took place at Stef-N’Ty in Detroit’s North End. The next one comes to the Bagley community. (Photo: Arts & Scraps)

Creative partnerships bring such beauty into the world. And the partnership between Mint Artists Guild and Arts & Scraps certainly will offer that – and a lot of creative activities and a few jobs for youth, when it lands in the Bagley Community  at the end of March.

Mint is hiring emerging artists as the staff for Arts & Scraps’ Neighborhood Network pop up in Neighborhood HomeBase community center run by the Live6 Alliance. A grand opening is scheduled for March 28 at HomeBase, 7426 W. McNichols, four blocks west of Livernois.

Arts & Scraps Neighborhood Network pop ups are funded by a $75,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. It includes a pop up near Clark Park in Southwest Detroit this spring. Previous pop ups were held in the Grandmont Rosedale and North End neighborhoods of Detroit.

The main goal is to offer Arts & Scraps to all, Arts & Scraps executive director Ang Adiamack said. She works from Arts & Scraps main office and store at 16135 Harper Ave.

“Being so far east is great in many ways, but it does mean we are hard to reach for west siders. This opportunity opens up the possibility of resourcing artists, entrepreneurs, makers and more across all of Detroit, which we are really excited about. In addition, being able to have youth staffing the pop-up in Bagley is incredibly exciting. We love the work Mint does empowering students to grow their own artistic career,” Ang said.

Mint Artists Guild provides entrepreneurial training and workforce development opportunities to creative youth. It has partnered with Arts & Scraps for two years with Mint’s Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative. Mint also buys arts and crafts supplies from its East Side store.

“We adore creative collaboration and any time we create opportunities for youth, the community and a partner, that achieves our win-win-win goals and makes us very happy,” said Vickie Elmer, Mint’s executive director and co-founder.

This Paint Detroit with Generosity painting by Jessica Fligger hangs in Arts & Scraps East Side headquarters, donated by Mint Artists Guild.

The pop up jobs mix retail sales and customer service, art making and leading arts and crafts activities for all on Saturdays. Youth must demonstrate that they are responsible, resourceful and enjoy making craft projects. They must be available to work most Saturdays from mid-March through early June.

Young creatives ages 15 to 21 may apply by sending Mint a resume and information about themselves.  Please apply to mintartistsguild@gmail.com by March 5.  Interviews will be scheduled in early March.

The Neighborhood Network pop up at HomeBase will feature Arts & Scraps recycled creative supplies, plus Mint greeting cards and a few Mint prints.  Mint intends to hold regular free arts and crafts activities on
many Saturdays. 

UPDATE: The pop up will postpone opening until it is safe to do so. Watch for details on Arts & Scraps and Mint’s social media when state and federal authorities give us the all clear. 

Posted on

Success! De’Shaia lands in pro shows with Mint

De’Shaia Ventour, a senior at Cass Tech, started making more elaborate duct tape painting after she joined Mint and sold her work at the Palmer Park Art Fair and other Mint events. 

She still creates beautiful duct tape flower pens and wallets, but her work has gotten bigger, more elaborate and in more venues.

Her duct tape painting Black Roses will be for sale at the All Media Exhibit, beside established artists including Darren Darby, Carole Morriseau, who taught art at Cass Tech, Bryan Tillman and others.

It’s her second time in the Detroit Artists Market. She had a few pieces in the Art for the Holidays show, which just ended.

For the All Media Show, Mint has a second piece at DAM too. The Mint Red Fish mosaic was created in the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program 2018, by a group of artists including Lakiya Ealey, Jordan Johnson and Lia Massey.  Someone who buys  the mosaic fish will support Mint in hiring 12 or more youth in our creative summer jobs program this year.  (All sale proceeds for Black Roses goes directly to De’Shaia Ventour.)

The Red Fish mosaic was created in the Mint Summer Jobs 2018.

The All Media exhibit opens on Friday and is up through Feb. 15 at the Detroit Artists Market, 4917 Woodware Ave., Detroit. The show is curated by Mint co-founder and Vice President Hubert Massey.

Black Rose, a duct tape painting by De’Shaia Ventour.

The De’Shaia video was created by Mint intern Journey Shamily and is © Mint Artists Guild, 2020.

Posted on

Grabbing opportunities and reusing your work: Sophie Grillet’s smart advice

Artist Sophie Grillet visited the Mint Studios and shared some insights. (Photo Oluwaseyi Akintoroye for © Mint Artists Guild)

 

When artist Sophie Grillet visited the Mint Studios this summer, she brought an important message to emerging artists:  Be prepared and keep grabbing for new opportunities.

Grillet has done just that from her days in London creating editorial cartoons for major newspapers such as The Guardian to starting the Westside Art Hop and  her new endeavor working as an art consultant to assist people find and buy art from local artists.

The Westside Art Hop, scheduled for Oct. 6,  has grown from artists in four Ann Arbor homes to 21 homes. “It worked because I’m not shy,” she told the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program workers. “I’m a great believer in asking people things.” 

Young artists may want to ask a curator for a discount on submitting work, or to be invited into a show.  Go to gallery openings and talk to the artist and the gallery owner. Ask for advice. Ask the artist about her process, Grillet told Mint.

Grillet’s art is a mix of abstract paintings and mixed media and sculpture, often named after female mathematicians.  Her art website features an array of “science and math art” as well as photography and more. “I tend to be very curious and work in everything,” she told Mint.

Her mother was very creative and made ceramics and her father was an architect.  She considers herself both artist and writer, and has published several books including Feminism for Teenagers and poetry  Her recent blog post gives a wide array of advice for emerging artists, including “if you’re not paying attention, you won’t have much to contribute…. Everything is connected.”  So watch BBC news or documentaries and “talk to everyone.”

So reuse your canvas if the original piece does not measure up to your expectations. “Some of my most successful paintings have been on top of ones I didn’t like.” 

Grillet believes in the importance of enjoying life and the people in it, and creating healthy balance so work does not take over.  Young artists must be prepared, by having creative work finished and an attitude that welcomes serendipity and opportunities. Promote yourself and get out there.  

Even for wildly creative artists, reliability matters. “If somebody gives you an opportunity, you need to honor that. You need to show up,” she said.

Mint summer intern Catherine Jones contributed to this article.

Posted on

Quotable: artist Adwoa Muwzea

Artist Adwoa Muwzea with two of her prints.

“Residual income – that’s what I live for. You’re making money while you sleep.”  -artist and educator Adwoa Muwzea, at an Artist2Artist gathering in Detroit.

Artists earn “residual income” – also known as passive income – when they license their images or creativity for use by companies or individuals. Some examples: A company pays to put your popular image on a greeting card or T shirt.

Creating Beautifully lists many sites and ways artists may earn passive income.

For emerging artists, this could mean creating a limited edition print of your work, or licensing a piece of your art to a musician with an annual payment.  Greeting cards from your art sold at a gift shop also create passive income.  

Mint teaches business skills to emerging artists, and for licensing, you may need a lawyer or at least a licensing agreement / contract.  Learn more about the three forms of licensing in these posts from Digital Media Law Project.

-© Vickie Elmer, 2019, for Mint Artists Guild

Posted on

Summer jobs for creative youth

Mint wants to hire at least 10 and perhaps 12 young artists for our Creative Summer Jobs program. So we open up our job interviews to any artist from Detroit, ages 15 to 21, who is registered with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, the city jobs program funded by foundations and businesses.
Come talk to us on April 17 or April 27, or wait until May 3 for an interview.
Please bring along contact information for two references – people who know you well, such as teachers, volunteer leaders, former managers, those who attend the same house of worship as you.
Practice interviewing with a friend, and watch for our blog post on interviewing tips coming soon.

Posted on

Join Mint’s Learn & Earn – deadline this week

If you want to share your art with the world – and sell it to art collectors and lovers – it’s time to join Mint Artists Guild.
Emerging artists ages 14 to 20 who are not in college full time are invited to apply to the Mint Learn & Earn program. Deadline to apply is midnight Thursday, Sept. 27.
Apply online by submitting some of the best samples of your creative work and tell us about yourself.
Artists who are selected will be notified by Oct. 5 and may join Mint at some of our holiday pop ups and events.