Whether it's setting up tables for an impromptu art fair in the neighborhood or exhibiting at a junior artist festival, creating art to sell can be a great summer project for families. From creating masterpieces to learning how to manage expenses, art shows are teaching experiences for children as young as 3.
The cost to get started as a pint-size artist can be as minimal as buying paint and collecting rocks to decorate, says Amy Amdur, president of Amdur Productions, which puts on a Youth Art Fest each August. Amdur, whose daughter Hannah has been exhibiting art since she was 3, recommends parents follow their child's lead when it comes to art projects.
"We started with easy projects. She wanted to paint sticks," Amdur says. "She ended up creating sculptures out of sticks."
Talk to your child to find out what she may enjoy creating. Anything goes-from friendship bracelets to Sculpey sculptures to photography. Next, work with your child to figure out what materials are needed.
As your child is creating her inventory, other business learning experiences come into play. Talk about how she is going to display her artwork and how to price the object, taking into account the cost of materials and the exhibition fee, Amdur says. "You need to think about with kids, are you going to take checks or only cash? Are you going to have a box for your money? That's a really nice topic-how to handle your money." Also talk about what will be done with this potential income-will they keep the cash, put it in a savings account or donate it to charity?
As children get older, they often become more savvy, sometimes creating business cards or order sheets to take commissions. "The ones who are really on top of their game keep a guest book in their booth and then before Hanukkah or Christmas, they do a mailing to see if anyone wants to buy their products," Amdur says.
For Hannah, exhibiting at art shows allows her to spend her summer creatively, without all those 'mom I'm bored' moments. "It's not like school where I have to do something. I can do whatever I want," Hannah says. "At the shows, seeing what I've made, that I have a booth full of my artwork, it's really fun. And when you see someone who wants your art, they want to pay for it with money they've earned, that's exciting."
If your child is interested in exhibiting at a fest, the Port Clinton Art Festival has a Youth Art Division. Spots go quickly, so Amdur recommends sending in an application at the beginning of the summer. The fest charges $60 for youth art exhibitors, who will exhibit Aug. 29-30. For more information or to apply for a booth, call (847) 926-4300 or visit www.amdurproductions.com.
Even if your child isn't ready to exhibit in a show, Amdur recommends families take advantage of the many free art shows in the Chicago area to introduce children to art. The fests often have free art areas where children can explore various media. Follow up the visit with a trip to the Art Institute or another local art museum.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.