Earlier this month Art Spark Texas was invited to present at the Houston Arts Partners Conference. The Houston Arts Partners collaboration was created in response to a specific request from Houston area education administrators for a more efficient and effective method to access arts educational resources in Houston. The 2018 Conference was called “Synergy” and all about highlighting arts partnerships for students with diverse learning needs. Well this sounded right up our alley! So we put together a panel presentation called “Encouraging Artistic Entrepreneurship: How Artists with Disabilities Navigate Today’s Gig Economy.”
Our panel consisted of four young Houston artists. First, Wes Holloway. We have known him for quite some time at Art Spark Texas. We met when he was attending UT Austin. Wes paints amazing realistic pieces and is currently focusing on smaller collage work. He is a teaching artist and volunteers for United Spinal Association.
The next artist on our panel was Grant Manier. We met Grant when he was just a teenager starting out on his journey of art. He does eco-art using recycled paper. His most recent endeavor is a book he wrote with his mom called “Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe.”
We then had Alisha Momin. Alisha was a participant in our Opening Minds, Opening Doors program when we took that to Houston. She creates jewelry, scarves, and potpourri as well. Alisha is an outgoing and adventurous young woman who enjoys making art and especially enjoys the part where she can meet people as she tries to sell it.
And finally Megan Fry, a young woman with whom we recently became acquainted. She uses an interesting technique called eye gaze to create digital art. She is also a college student at University of Houston. This was the first event we have done with Megan and she was delightful.
At the conference, we had an hour long discussion about working as an artist with a disability. I don’t have room in this blog to tell you everything, but here are some highlights!
- Most of our panelists were interested in art from a young age. Their advice to teachers: let your students with disabilities give it a try. Don’t assume they can’t do what everyone else is doing. Find ways to adapt and ask them how they want to adapt the lesson. Be ready to explore with them!
- Making the art is what comes naturally! But what about showing and selling your work? You might need a manager. And in many cases that is a “Mom-ager” or a “Dad-ager.” They can be very helpful on the business skills, the transportation, and always the cheerleading!
- Working as an artist at home can have its challenges. Sometimes you need to get out of the isolation of working at home. Get out and see the world for inspiration as well as networking opportunities.
- Pricing your work is not easy. One tip is to start with a base price based on size. But whatever you do, never underestimate your worth!
I always enjoy an event where I can show off the talents of Art Spark Texas artists. Each artist did a great job talking about their work and were very professional panelists. We had a great time at the 2018 HAP Conference!