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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.

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Mint’s successes and miracles: A yearend letter from our director

Alexis, Natasha and other Mint Summer workers learn painting techniques from our teaching artist. (Photo Seyi Akintoroye for Mint)

Dear friends of Mint,

Mint Artists Guild is finishing a year of successes and firsts. We are proud of these – and we see how many more opportunities and challenges we could tackle in 2020 and 2021, with your support and donations from individuals, businesses and foundations.

Some of our successes have names: Seyi, a photographer, learned to paint with acrylics in our Creative Summer Jobs program, and has three paintings on display in the Fisher Building through Jan. 3.  Alexis took a leadership role in our Summer Jobs program and joined our board of directors.  Journey landed a paid marketing internship with Mint, and is being mentored by an amazing marketing expert. Through Mint, De’Shaia’s work is for sale at the Detroit Artists Market and she will have another piece in the DAM All Media Show,

Others show up in places that seem like minor miracles for a small nonprofit. Mint’s greeting cards for the first time are for sale in the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum Store, through mid March. Mint’s Paint Detroit with Generosity show is hanging in the Fisher Building, one of the architectural giants and my favorite building in Detroit. And Mint sold greeting cards and brought along an alumni to sell his art at an artisan market in New Orleans, through our collaboration with the Palmer Park Art Fair

Mint Artists summer worker Bryan looks over the Paint Detroit with Generosity show at the Fisher Building opening in November. (Photo: Journey Shamily for Mint)

Our Learn and Earn artists sold a record amount of art at Mint pop ups and in the Mint tent at art fairs: $11,500, or about 20 percent more than in 2018. We hired our first Wolverine Pathways interns, a University of Michigan program that boosted our Summer Creative Jobs staff to ten, twice as many as two years ago. Another first: Several alumni graduated from universities and started creative careers in costume design, graphic design and more.  (We plan to profile a few of our alumni in 2020 and recognized Damon FirstBorn Chamblis at Mint Masterpieces in October.)

Yet we also faced sadness and setbacks. We worked with artists who lost a close family member and several who could not find transportation to workshops or a summer job. We did not create any large public art pieces this year, nor did we add to our butterfly mosaics in Palmer Park.

Mint will spend time in the year ahead setting goals and strategic plans looking ahead for five years. We see many opportunities and growth possibilities, and many beautiful partnerships with other nonprofits, foundations and businesses.

Our emerging artists want to plan more creative community service projects, and we are committed to supporting them. And we want to develop more entrepreneurship workshops and training, perhaps by collaborating with other organizations.

We need your generous gifts to keep growing and giving and opening doors to creative careers and community art projects. A donation of $75 supports a Mint pop up, and includes buying snacks for our young artists. A yearend gift of $250 will support three weeks of a youth’s Creative Summer Job. Give $5,000 and we will bring free weekly arts and crafts activities to a second Detroit park next summer.

So please find the donate button near the top of this page and give generously. If you prefer to send a check, please mail it to Mint Artists Guild, PO Box 21667, Detroit, MI 48221.

And thank you for being part of our successes and our growth.

Vickie Elmer
Mint executive director and co-founder

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Big dreams, jump in right now: Our story in The Creative Armory

Mint co-founder Vickie Elmer shares our creative reuse of an Italian ice lid, turned palate, turned art chain. (Photo © The Creative Armory)


Mint Artists Guild has long believed in the “start small, dream big” approach to creating an organization. We see power in moving forward, with our emerging artists as our colleagues and our inspiration.

 Jess, the founder of The Creative Armory blog, captured that in an interview with our co-founder and executive director Vickie Elmer. It came out just in time for the Funky Ferndale Art Fair this weekend and as we have an array of events queued up through the fall.

Elmer talked about the impact training young artists in entrepreneurship and community and community service.

“If we start them on the path now and stress community service, generosity, and mutual support, we are going to create a powerful ecosystem of artists and creative entrepreneurs that are going to spread beauty and success around Detroit and the world. I’m going to bask in the reflected glory of all that they do,” Elmer told The Creative Armory.

Mint is basking in the glory of our story being told by a creative entrepreneur who hustles and cares. Read the entire piece here and if you feel your creativity or energy stir, please share it with your creative community.

A Mint Mantra and some of the many pieces of youth art in the Mint Studios in Palmer Park. (Photo: © The Creative Armory)

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Smart advice on writing an artists statement


Judy Sledge at the Palmer Park Art Fair (Photo © Mark L. Brown)


Artists who want to submit work to galleries or competitions may need an artists statement – and writing one may seem as daunting as landing an apprenticeship with a top Fortune 500 company.
Yet it could be easy – and valuable. An artists statement, especially for an emerging artist, ought to be short and direct, using simple language. It tells readers about your body of work; it describes your work, artist Judy Sledge said at an Integrity Shows – Mint Artists Guild workshop in Detroit.

“Introduce your personality,” said Sledge, an artist, and owner of ArtRages gallery in Detroit. “Introduce yourself.

Here’s some other good advice on writing an artist statement:

  •  Share “why you do what you do” in your work, Sledge said.
  • Write in first person and tell people why you are original.
  • Briefly tell how you make your art and what it represents.
  • Keep the statement short, often just two or three paragraphs is plenty.
  • Grab the curator or buyer’s attention in the first few words, suggests The Art League, providing eight examples of “artists statements we love.” 
  • Answer five basic questions in your statement, including what inspires or motivates you.

Writing one may clarify “your own ideas about your work” and may be required when applying for a grant or other funding, GYST said in a blog post on creating artists statements. 

Before you send it to a gallery, ask your mentor or art teacher to review it. Or get feedback from friends, especially anyone who works with words.

© Vickie Elmer, 2019

(Mark L. Brown’s photo of Judy Sledge was used with permission.)

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Why artist Judy Bowman believes in Mint

Artists Charlene Uresy and Judy Bowman at the first Mint Masterpieces.  Judy Bowman will be involved again this year. (Photo © Barbara Barefield)

Judy Bowman’s success as an artist started after she retired from her career as an educator. Yet if Mint Artists Guild had been around when she were a teen, she wonders whether she might have pursued creating and selling art more earlier in her life.

A new video, created by Mint marketing lead and board member Kelly O’Neill, shares Judy’s story – and her appreciation for Mint.

The award winning collage, mixed media and more artist, also shared some advice she would give her 18-year-old self.

“If you keep plugging at it, you’ll get there. … Keep doing it because you’re going to be a success. You’ve got the drive. You’ve got the energy.”

Judy has supported Mint Artists Guild with her time and experiences, her art and more. She serves on the honorary committee for Mint Masterpieces, our party with a purpose on Oct. 19.  Buy your tickets now and enjoy art, music and fine food in a major art collector’s eclectic home. Or please follow Judy’s lead and donate to Mint today!

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The importance of drawing and multiple works at once: Shirley Woodson’s advice

Artist Shirley Woodson at her May artist talk.


Shirley Woodson has worked as an artist and arts educator in Detroit for some six decades, and to this day, she usually is juggling a half dozen paintings in her studio.

Over the years, she has moved her paintings into angels, then water, and started painting shells in some of them. “The shell is a home,” she explained in an artist talk at the Norwest Gallery in Detroit.

Her work is in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, which calls her a “trailblazer,” and the Studio Museum of Harlem, as well as corporate and private collections. Her brilliant colors, oranges and lime greens and Carribbean sky bright blues, burst forth in happy profusion; check out more than a dozen of her paintings in this Pinterest collection 

She leads the National Conference of Artists Michigan chapter and for years worked as an arts educator in Highland Park and Detroit. 

Her best advice to her 18 year old self?  Learn to draw better. “Drawing is essential. That’s your note taking. It’s your scales,” she said, answering my question.

Here are other insights from Shirley Woodson that could aid young artists:

  • Work on several paintings or pieces at once, all in the same medium. That allows movement from one piece to another, based on mood, attitude and more. “I paint many at a time. …Start another one and another one and then go back,” she told the Norwest Gallery guests.
  • Understand the art market, local and national. 
  • Seek opportunities to show and sell your work outside your home city. She told how she called up a curator and asked to be included in his show. Or land an artist residency somewhere new.
  • Give yourself time for contemplation of your work. “Seventy-five percent of the time is in the thinking and looking,” she said.

The History Makers has videos and information about Shirley Woodson’s perspectives and career. 

Woodson’s work and words of wisdom are enduring, and she’s clear that artists of color and female artists must continue to work and advocate for themselves. “You will always be overcoming barriers. … Knock it down. Take it away,” she said.

© Vickie Elmer, 2019

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Quotable: Super Business Girl

“I was able to build my own dreams. I’m still doing it.”

Asia Newson, the 13-year-old entrepreneur known as Super Business Girl, in a Forbes magazine feature.

Asia Newson

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Quotable: Victoria Roby, on success

Your level of success is not going to exceed your level of personal development.

Victoria Roby, owner of The Natural Market in Detroit, at a New Economy Initiative start up storytelling night.

Victoria Roby of Detroit’s Natural Market

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Mint Artists: Success data 2016


Mint experienced a lot of growth and considerable success in 2016. Here’s our by the numbers look at our first full year as a nonprofit in Detroit:

   4   Young people paid for creative summer jobs

   5   Creative business and careers workshops staged by Mint Artists

   9   Young creatives who landed and/or worked gigs through Mint

 10   Pop ups, events and venues where Mint Artists work appeared

19   Paint Detroit with Generosity and other paintings donated to local nonprofits

25   Paintings, prints and photographs on display at the GM Tech Center, and one mural dubbed a “pixel paper painting” created (pictured above)

37   Volunteers who contributed time to Mint, its events or workshops

115  People who signed up to receive Mint e-letters

425   Artists and students who learned about creative careers through Mint

2,271  Dollars raised in spring crowdfunding campaign

4,400  Dollars earned by Mint Artists for summer jobs, gigs or projects

And we’re just getting started. We expect to keep growing in 2017, with your help and support as a donor, a volunteer or a patron who buys art or creative services from Mint and its artists.

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Everybody is looking for someone to listen to them. Listening is by far the best networking tool.

Kevin Gardner, a Detroit designer, furniture maker and interior designer at a Mint Artists Guild workshop in May.