In honor of Earth Day, I’m sharing an article on sustainable design that was written for tada! shop (my second home). Megan’s work is pretty amazing, and I think you’ll love her passion and creativity. Read on, take notes and enjoy!
We’re living in the digital age. And as much as we are dazzled by painting and drawing on an iPad, there’s nothing quite like unplugging and getting our hands dirty. An appropriate topic for Earth Day, don’t you think? My talented friend and founder of the Art Pantry, Megan Schiller, has been a longtime leader in building creative confidence in kids before launching her new e-guide “The New Playroom”. This modern manual is filled with DIY insider tips, personal stories and easy-to-follow steps on how to design a dedicated art space in your own home. It’s a must-have guide for any tinkering child (and adult), but I’ll let her tell you. Thanks Megan for the inspiring interview.
Tell us about the evolution of The Art Pantry and the new guide:
Ever since I began teaching preschool 13 years ago, I have been on a mission to help kids gain creative confidence by exposing them to artistic materials and process-oriented art at a young age. I believe that being creative and understanding how to use tools and materials to make things is an essential part of learning. This is why I started The Art Pantry and what drives me every day.
The Art Pantry actually started off as The Littlest Birds Studio in 2010, where I taught toddler art classes in my back cottage. The classes were a hit, and eventually expanded beyond the neighborhood families to a commercial space. When I became pregnant with my second daughter, I decided to sell the art studio in order to work from home and spend more time with my kids.
This is when I re-imagined the business and changed the name to The Art Pantry. After years of teaching art in a class setting, my goal was to help bring more creativity into children’s homes. After two years of selling my favorite children’s art supplies in our online shop, I began designing art spaces in children’s homes. This service was so well received that I shut down the shop and have been focused on designing children’s creative spaces ever since.
I am a strong believer that our home environment influences our experiences and reflects our values. When we create spaces for our kids that are stocked with interesting tools and materials – that are organized and inviting – we are giving our kids the message that they are creative and capable little beings. We are inviting them to explore the world around them through these materials so that they will gain confidence in their natural creative abilities and take these skills with them as they grow older.
This is why I love designing kids’ art spaces. What I don’t love is how few hours in the day I am able work with clients! I want to reach more families than is possible with this type of one-on-one service, so I created an e-guide for families to tackle it on their own. I also created the guide so that I could offer an affordable version of my design services.
Your favorite part of the guide:
My favorite part of the guide is the section, “It’s Not Just For Art.” It emphasizes the main idea of this guide, which is the idea that an “art space” in your home can actually be more like a workshop or a playroom. Art materials are the tools that kids use to work through ideas, solve problems, and create anything they can imagine. This might mean that a child is playing with toy astronauts and suddenly decides to build a rocket ship out of cardboard. The art space is there to support this play. This is why the guide is called “The New Playroom”. It’s a new way of looking at children’s play and allowing art to be a big part of that.
Your “Invitations to Create” guide looks incredibly fun. I have to ask, how did you come up with 30 cool art ideas?
About a year and a half ago I ran a 30-day “Invitations To Create” challenge. I set out art prompts for my kids every day for 30 days and posted photos on Instagram and Facebook. A lot of people joined me in the challenge and did their best to keep it up for 30 days. It was really fun and taught me a lot about the effect of these art prompts on the creative process.
The 30 art prompts in this guide are adapted from this challenge. I tweaked some and added new ones to come up with this list. Originally, I came up with the ideas mostly from what I had in my house at the time, from projects we did in my art classes, and from projects I’ve seen on my favorite blogs.
Your design aesthetic:
Some words I would use to describe my design aesthetic are modern, bohemian, vintage, minimal, and playful. I love modern minimalism mixed with a touch of historical charm and a good dose of colorful whimsy. I also love using natural elements to keep a space feeling grounded.
What advice would you give to someone planning an art space on a small budget?
Great question! Depending on the design aesthetic, there are a few ways to create a nice space on a small budget. For someone who appreciates a “collected look” as I call it in the guide, I would suggest to first re-purpose any storage or containers you already have around your house. This includes shelving, baskets, jars, etc. Then get anything else you might need at a thrift shop or garage sale. There are a surprising amount of great baskets and organizers at thrift shops. Look in the kitchen section for divided trays and fun tools to re-purpose as paint or play dough tools.
If you like the look of new, matching containers and storage items, check out Ikea, Target, and other big box retailers. Even dollar stores have some great items. Remember to look in the kitchen section wherever you are!
As far as art supplies go, start with a few of the basics (markers, crayons, paper, scissors, tape, tempera and watercolor paints, glue, and play dough or clay). And add to your collection when you see items on sale. Discount School Supply has great prices for these basic supplies.
How will you and your family celebrate Earth Day?
We are currently fixing up our family garden and plan on planting veggies and native plants in the space. Our big project we are planning is to create a bean teepee in the garden so that my girls will have a special place to hide away and snack on green beans all summer! I’d also love to take them to the Earth Day art celebration at Stinson Beach. It starts with a beach cleanup and ends with making artistic sculptures out of things like rocks and seaweed. Sounds like a lot of fun!
Ready to start a new playroom? Get the complete guide here. What’s in your ideal art space?
Photos Courtesy of The Art Pantry