Recently, I was asked to speak in front of 8th grade students at Campus International Middle School in Cleveland, Ohio. When the art teacher asked if I was willing to do it, my immediate response was “what would you like for me to talk about?”
While I consider building custom bars for people to be exciting & challenging, I would never consider it to be a topic that would involve students and their future. She said, “I’d like for you to talk about how you integrated being an artist into a career.” She also asked me to talk how I got started and what I takes, exactly, to run a business that relies on creativity & craftsmanship.
Emphasis was also put on pursuing a career as a professional tradesman or craftsman. Fewer & fewer young adults are taking the trades as a career path making the demand for them grow & at a very rapid rate. I explained that I started my career as a carpenter. The principles & fundamentals of building bars were merely transitioned from carpentry. Being good at bar design is something that comes from the creative side of me, but also research and practice.
I also talked about how I use textures, tones, & balance when designing a bar. As I stood there speaking, I started to notice the students paying very close attention to what I was saying. It was the opposite of what I thought was going to happen. That started to make me realize that I take the things I do in a day to day, for granted.
The teacher told me the length of the class and that we could fill the rest of the time with the students showing me the projects they were working on. On the contrary, the students asked me lots of questions, and really good ones. We filled the entire time with discussion!
I did stick around while another class filtered in and showed me some of their projects. These were sixth graders and I have to say, I was very impressed by not only the quality of their projects, but also their enthusiasm.
I’ve always been passionate about art and have been complimented on my creativity. The biggest challenge to applying it to my work, i’d say is the confidence to know that whatever i’m designing is going to be well received. I don’t have the answer for that yet.