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How Jessica ended up in two Mint videos and a show in the Fisher Building

Jessica Fligger showed up with her family for the Mint Paint Detroit with Generosity opening last month, a rare artist with a rare opportunity – two of them.

She left 90 minutes later with two interviews completed and her paintings shining. This young painter and ceramics artist was thrilled to have her art featured in the Fisher Building – and in the interviews.

The first was with Tim Brown of CBS Detroit, for a piece for Eye on Detroit.

The second was closer to home. Mint marketing intern Journey Shamily, who has sold art with Jessica through the Mint Learn and Earn program, talked to her about her show at the Fisher, which comes down on Jan. 2.

” I just knew that I wanted my interview with her to be fun for the both of us while still giving her a chance to talk about the beautiful art she made for three beautiful nonprofits. I truly did have a blast and with this internship I can mark ‘interview someone’ off my bucket list,” said Journey Shamily.

Guilded by her Mint mentor Kelly O’Neill, Journey also edited the video of Jessica Fligger, which is presented here and on our YouTube channel. 

Jessica was paid to create original paintings and art through Mint’s Creative Summer Jobs program.  (Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see some of the paintings created or stop by the Fisher Bakery by the afternoon of Jan. 2 to see them all in person.)

Jessica is one of the rare artists who was accepted into both of our training and development programs. Both she and Journey learn creative and business skills through Mint – including how to answer questions from guests or in front of the camera.

Support more youth developing skills with a donation to Mint or become a monthly donor and give even more opportunities.

Jessica is interviewed by Tim Brown for CBS Detroit’s Eye on Detroit. (Photo Journey Shamily for Mint Artists Guild)
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Grabbing opportunities and reusing your work: Sophie Grillet’s smart advice


When artist Sophie Grillet visited the Mint Studios in the summer of 2019, 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.

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Help us create more good in Detroit

Give to Mint Artists’ spring campaign today so we may hire more youth.

Mint Artists spring fundraiser underwrites a lot of good – good opportunities for Detroit youth, good summer jobs, good art that is donated to local nonprofits, good fun in our free Art in the Park arts and crafts in Palmer Park – and more.

The fundraiser supports all our programs, and in particular the Creative Summer Jobs program. In three years, we have created and donated close to 75 original paintings through our Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative, which is funded through this campaign.

This week. we start interviewing candidates for those jobs in our fourth summer. And Mint has a list of almost 60 young people who want to work for us. So the demand for jobs is there.  We expect to hire about 10 or 11 emerging artists, up from six in 2018, provided this fundraiser is successful.

That’s why we need your gift now – so we can offer jobs to creative young people such as Mint alumni Damon FirstBorn, who worked for us for two years, and others who sharpen their skills through our summer program.

Give online today, and if you wish to receive a gift for your donation, please select the option under Choose a Perk with a pink select button.  Or if you prefer to send a check, please mail it to Mint Artists, PO Box 21667, Detroit, MI 48221.

Our next post will share some details of the nonprofits that receive our Paint Detroit with Generosity paintings. Like our young artists, they appreciate our goodness – and your generosity in supporting Mint Artists Guild.


© Vickie Elmer for Mint Artists Guild, 2019


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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.

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Mint & the golden doors

The Skillman Foundation in Detroit hosted Mint Artists for a strategic planning session. And during the break, we ended up out in the sunshine, standing by the golden door. Perhaps they were an omen of golden opportunities opening to us.

During our planning, we unearthed platinum opportunities for Mint’s growth including adding more partners.

Shown here are co-founder Mark Loeb, who created the Belle Isle Art Fair, and Y0nnie Breonna Collins and Espacia Fotiu, two emerging artists. Ms. Fotiu and Mr. Loeb both are on Mint’s board of directors.