In these focused, one or three-day weekend workshops, young artists are mentored by design professionals in the creation of actual products that go to market. Design Camp and Design Labs are part of the Cool Jobs initiative, introducing children to real jobs in the creative economy. We have worked with partners like Knoll, DENY Designs, Crate&Barrel, Jefferson University and a small, inventive toy company called Stick-Lets! The company approachs us with a product in mind, we create a simple design brief, and invite art teachers in our 5-county region to nominate kids to participate, usually from 5th through 8th grade. Nominees are interviewed by bringing 2 pieces of current artwork to talk about, and tell us a little about themselves. We choose a small, diverse group, none of whom know each other, and off we go a few weeks later.
The Crate&Barrel project was to create a suite of children’s bedding – designed by kids! The studio was led by an award-winning illustrator who worked with the kids to create small drawings around the theme of fantasy and castles. CB sent four people from their Chicago headquarters to introduce the young cohort to product development, art direction, and merchandising. They drew, painted, ate a lot of granola bars and fruit, ran off energy in the adjacent alley art gallery….and after each work session held a group crit! CB took all the art back to Chicago to put together repeat pattern fabrics for sheets and pillowcases.
Some larger drawings became bright throw pillows, and also were used to design an entire fantasy scene for their big, soft duvets! The entire assortment of pieces became The Fresh Artists Children’s Artistic Bedding Suite, and was sold in their stores, website and catalogs for over a year. Each child received both a complete set of bedding as a keepsake gift – and an educational experience that they are still talking about 4 years later! Two students from the Crate&Barrel Design Camp are off to college this year. Anissa to wants to become an art director in a creative agency. Olivia is torn between being an illustrator or head of marketing! We were there when they discovered their Dream Jobs at the Fresh Artists Design Camp!
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