“I want to give kids a chance to be artist entrepreneurs,” Hill says. “I make most of my money as an artist from functional pieces I create, such as bags, notecards and umbrellas. By incorporating my art into something that’s functional, I am able to continue to support my work as a photographer.” This is wisdom Hill hopes to impart on the budding artists attending Saturday’s event.
“I want these kids to know you can make a living doing what you love,” Hill says. “The show is designed to teach kids what they need to do to sell their work.”
Among the budding artists in attendance are middle school, high school and even a few elementary school children. “Sometimes it’s the youngest kids who spend the most time on creative things,” Hill explains. “It’s really amazing to see what they’ve all done.”
Booths are free to participating artists, but to be selected for the show, students were required to submit an application. Plus, they provided images of their work, an artist statement and a short paragraph explaining why they would like to participate. A few of Hill’s favorites:
“Art has always been important to me, and I’d like to share what I’ve come up with to other people. My cousin once found a book that said, ‘Art is your imagination on the outside,’ and I certainly believe that’s true, as I always put great effort into making my imagination flow out of my head and onto the canvas I am working with.”
“Why do I want to join in on this opportunity? Well first I love to paint, and I use it to have fun and relax. When I paint I put my feelings into what I am painting. I want to take this opportunity to get a head start into the life of art because I would like to become an artist when I am older.”
This year around 50 young artists submitted applications for the 40 available spots, chosen by the WAA’s selection committee. In addition, 20 adult artists were selected to participate and required to pay a booth fee.
“This is not just a kid’s show for many reasons,” Hill notes. “It’s important for the kids to be able to work alongside adult artists who are making a real living selling their work.”
One participant, Dennis Belcher, is the owner of SeaBreeze Woodworks. His wooden bowls, teapots and Ikebana vessels are beautifully carved with reverence to the natural grains and textures of his materials. Of the Budding and Blooming show, Belcher shares:
“Sometimes the greatest lessons come from the items that were not purchased. For many of these kids, it’s the first situation that they’ve had to put their creations out against other young people who are very creative. This event provides a very supportive environment for young people to explore what it means to be true entrepreneurs.”
Also a member of the WAA, Belcher has been instrumental in helping prepare the show. He hopes the budding artists will be open to feedback.
“I always encourage the students to pay attention to what is touched,” he states. “When someone picks up a piece repeatedly, even if they don’t buy it, it means [you’re] on the right path and have created something that resonates with people.”
Haley France—a junior at Ashley High School and stepdaughter of Hill—had the opportunity to learn what sells. Last year, she participated in the show. “[It] taught me that if I want to do this, I know what it takes,” she says. “You can’t just start your own business. It’s something you have to work hard to do.”
France has taken a keen interest in photography, selling her photographs affixed to painted wooden blocks. Hill has enjoyed watching her daughter’s advancement through the process.
“I’m watching her grow and change with what she’s creating,” Hill says, “and it’s even inspired my own work. As artists, we’re constantly morphing into different things.”
Hill hopes “Budding and Blooming” will transform into something greater. She envisions the program growing into a complete mentoring program, where student artists will be paired with adult artists to help develop their ideas.
“The more kids hear about it, the more it grows,” says Hill, who reported that last year, student artists sold roughly $3,000 worth of work. Proceeds from the event were enough to cover three scholarships for the Cameron Art Museum Children’s Art School Scholarship Fund.
This year the NC Arts Council provided grassroots funding for the event, which WAA matched. Budding vendors will share 10 percent of sales to continue to support the Children’s Art School Scholarship Fund. The event is free to the public.
“Overall, I think this event is important because you get to look at everyone’s art and see their creativity,” France says. “I feel inspired knowing there are others just as passionate about art as I am.”
Budding and Blooming Art Show
Featuring 40 young budding artists, 20 adult blooming artists
Arts, Crafts, Live Music, Raffle
June 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
UNCW Warwick Center