I’ve been playing Minecraft for the first time these past few months. My kids and I are building our own little village. After putting some time into Minecraft in Creative Mode, I had a lightbulb go on. Or, I would say that it reinforced something that I already knew to be true. That thought was that if you have a good idea, given enough time, you can build anything you want. My son built a really cool castle and the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean with cannons that actually fire! Pretty cool! It took him some time, but it happened. The internet is full of great examples of things people created in Minecraft. Some of them will blow your mind!
If this can happen digitally, I believe it can happen in real life. It’s just harder and probably takes longer, but given enough time you can probably do it. The one major difference that sticks out to me between these two things is that Minecraft doesn’t have to worry about market forces. You can build the business, but if the market doesn’t accept it then it will probably fail. Or, it will turn into a money pit. It’s not as simple as Minecraft.
Nevertheless, if you can find a way to keep your project going until you figure out how to make it work, then you at least have a fighting chance. That’s the thought I had when it came to starting an art school. If I can bootstrap it and take my time, then the risk of failure goes down. It may take longer, but brick by brick, I can build it over time.
Will the market accept it? I have no idea. I believe that they might. The reason for this hope is that we are living in a world where the demand for art skills has increased, but the thought of going into debt for an education seems uncertain. One solution has been to offer classes online through platforms like Skillshare or Udemy. These are great platforms, but it can’t replace the learning that happens with a live instructor. The video is a script, and that script plays the same message regardless of who is watching it or what they need. It’s limited, but human interaction isn’t. Live instruction enables you to tailor the information to the individual, and the student can learn faster. So teaching art in person has tremendous value.
I spent $80,000 at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and although I value my education and degree, I know that not everyone wants to do that. Sometimes, people just want to learn more. I think that there are enough people in the surrounding areas to support an art school like this with low cost classes. I’ve thought about this for nearly 20 years, and I finally decided to go after it. I love being in a studio setting with other creatives where we are all working on our art and learning from each other. It’s an amazing feeling, and I miss it.
So here is my plan. I am going to start this school by offering classes in rented public spaces. If the market enjoys my classes, then word of mouth will spread. If they don’t, I’ll get feedback to improve them and try again. This process will continue until I figure it out. It may take ten years. Sooner or later, I believe that my community will form. I believe I’ll find the people in our area that want to learn from me and get better at their craft.
Once I have a large enough group of people who are willing to support this, my plan will be to open a small studio of my own. This will give us more opportunities to do things. It will allow me to bring in teachers with different skills who can teach different classes. It will give us space to have a gallery. It will give us a place to work instead of just working from home. It will give us a place to collaborate. If the people are out there, I believe we’ll find each other.
My hope is to not “compete” with other schools or galleries. I believe that like the art itself, my studio will take on my personality. It will be personal. It will not be McDonald’s. It will be a unique flavor that people who like that flavor support. I will teach others from my own experiences. I will approach things my way. I hope to help both kids and adults. They will have a slightly different approach, but my goal is to help them become more of who they already are as an artist. I do not wish to create a place where we all paint the same rainbow. That type of thing already exists and serves an important purpose. Instead, this will be a school that teaches fundamentals and advanced techniques. I want the beginner to get just as much value from it as the seasoned pro.
Overall, the reason I want to teach is that I love sharing art with people. I love how different everyone sees things and approaches their work. In my personal studio, all I know is Adam. In a public studio and school, I get to connect with others and learn just as much as I teach. It’s good for both of us. I love it, and I miss it. We don’t have many options in Port Orchard for that, or the county for that matter, and I want to create that for others. If you know someone who wants to learn more about art, please share this news with them. My initial classes start in January 2019.