Interview with Art Sphere Inc. Executive Director, Kristin Groenveld

Thank you to everyone who voted for our #GivingTuesday campaign

We are thrilled to be donating 10% of our online sales to Art Sphere, Inc. during the month of December. To learn more about this amazing organization, we interviewed the Executive Director, Kristin Groenveld, to get an inside look at how ASI is helping to grow and change the art community of Philadelphia.

Art Sphere has been around for 20 years. What do you think your biggest accomplishment has been?

Over these past 20 years, we have provided free ten week art classes to thousands of youth reinforcing core curriculum such as literacy, health and environmental awareness.

Our programs have inspired youth to excel in school, pursue college and careers in art and explore their creative potential.

We have also engaged thousands of students at educational events and neighborhood mural / neighborhood cleanups teaching social responsibility and environmental awareness.

Though, the biggest accomplishments for me are in the small stories: the Preschool student mother who wrote on our survey how her son made a sculpture from their recycling after our class; the high school alumni who wrote they never felt more proud than being able to say that they painted the wolf school mascot murals in their school halls; the grandmother who said her grandson would be the first to go to college in her family because our programs inspired him to try a career other than what other family members have done previously; the brother and sister learning English and identifying every letter they could find in the classroom after making an Alphabet book; the partner site teacher who was ecstatic that a father would bring in sticks for all the children and wanted to teach the students to fish when he saw the youth made fish art projects.

What do you find most special about the Philadelphia Art Community?

ASI has a rich diverse network of partners that value making art accessible and solving problems through community engagement.

Art is a vehicle for change; Philadelphia has a wealth of creativity and resilience that fuels our students with the drive to want to make the world a better place. ASI provides a map to go places!

The Public Mural Collaborations are very inspiring - what goes into creating such a large display of community art?

We start by engaging many community members with brainstorming and paint site specific messages based on their combined ideas. Teamwork, planning and collaboration help people make relationships that last through our mural making process and leave a lasting legacy for others to enjoy.

What is your favorite part of your job as Executive Director of Art Sphere?

I enjoy meeting others in the arts, activist and volunteer communities who share their passions and never stop giving. They teach me more about the world we live in and give me exciting new outlets for making a positive difference.

It's also very rewarding to help others find a way to share their talents to make a big impact and foster unique connections. We learn so much about ourselves by sharing our experiences and learning about the experiences of others.

Being a part of a community that values compassion and care gives me hope for the future.

You get to see first hand how donations make a difference in the community, can you explain a little bit about what these donations fund?

We raise money for Art Boxes filled with free art materials for youth to make art with, both at school and at home, that would not otherwise be available to them. High school students have also told us that they use these art boxes with younger siblings and babysitting, teaching the art lessons they have learned with other generations. Parents have told us that art making together has brought their families closer. Students have brought their sketchbooks to show us years later as documents to their experiences, thoughts and feelings. Children are very proud to have new art materials that are their very own and they love telling us about what they created over their weekends, vacations and summers.

Our 10 week art classes give students profound art experiences with professional grade art materials teaching ceramics and glazing, architecture using perspective drawing and drafting tools, clay animation with iPads, literacy and bookmaking, mural painting and printmaking. Through their artwork, youth share their struggles and dreams with peers and mentors who support their growth.

What do you find most challenging about being an Art Teacher?

More and more, communities across our region are stretched for creative public resources. Declining education funding has forced schools to cut art programs, while shrinking budgets prevent libraries and recreation centers from offering their own visual-arts programs. ASI aims to fill the artistic void in these communities by fostering the visual arts and developing broader skills to help students thrive in all subjects.

Students come to us now with less skills than ever so there is never enough time to teach all the projects we want to share, answer all the questions about the world that kids ask, listen to all their ideas and give them all the encouragement they need to flourish. In a 60 minute class for 25 students, if 10 minutes is instruction, each student has less than 2 minutes of time with an instructor. For this reason, we recruit assistant art teachers to talk with youth and incorporate an extra half hour before and after class for set up and cleanup, and another hour for planning and prepping projects. Learn more about volunteering at http://artsphere.org/get-involved/sign-up-to-volunteer/

What do you enjoy most about working with children?

For a child, every day is full of brand new opportunities for learning about themselves and the world. Our teachers know that when we work with students we are helping youth build important skills, motivation and self confidence to become life long learners. Together we make great memories and success stories which is very rewarding and keeps us adults aware of how wonderful life is. Children give me a fresh perspective on life - Make new! (We love that about your company name Printfresh as well!).

Young people are so excited to learn, try new art forms and make connections. They are our next generation of problem solvers and healers!

What’s next for Art Sphere?

We are celebrating our 20th anniversary and will be working to expand our impact through more free art resources, handouts, books and lesson plans made available via social media, our blog and our website. We are looking for more support and volunteers so we can share our programming to more partners and communities with goals to expand our programming in South Philadelphia and with immigrant youth struggling to learn English. Connect with us here - https://m.facebook.com/artsphereinc

And learn more! - http://artsphere.org/what-we-do/resources/ http://artsphere.org/blog/

We also offer a free art lesson plan e-book: “Creating Legacies through Art”
http://artsphere.org/creating-legacies-through-art/

Creating Legacies though Art takes you on a journey to explore the commonplace and find new meaning in everyday objects. Through individual and group projects, with additional links and references to help you extend the journey, our art lessons provide opportunities to transmit core values, such as compassion, tolerance and respect.

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Start filling up your shopping carts!
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Giving Back for #GivingTuesday

When trying to decide where to donate a portion of our profits for #GivingTuesday, we started to realize that there are so many worthy causes and charities in need of help right now. Instead of picking where the profits from our customers’ hard-earned money should go, we want to let YOU decide.

As a company who lives and works in Philadelphia, we are passionate about giving back to the art education programs to help support the children in our community - but we need your help deciding between the Philadelphia Children’s Foundation and Art Sphere Inc.!

Over the next week we will be collecting your votes through your comments on social media and the poll below. The charity with the most votes wins, and we will donate 10% of all our online sales on Printfresh products during the month of December to that charity.

Keep reading to learn a little more about the two charities
we chose and then scroll down to cast your vote!

 

1. Philadelphia Children's Foundation

PCF supports Philadelphia public schools by installing internet-ready computers in classrooms and publicly accessible locations. They also help outfit school libraries with books, provide computers to low-income families that do not have them, and teach 3D printing classes.

Their mission is to help children of all ages find their passion, develop needed skills, and make positive career and life decisions for a successful future.

 

2. Art Sphere Inc

ASI nurtures the artist in all of us to be able to think beyond what is possible in our own lives and communities. Their students, volunteers, and partners transcend obstacles to bring about positive and lasting change that continuously enables thriving neighborhoods and a vibrant city!

More and more, communities across our region are stretched for creative public resources. Declining education funding has forced schools to cut art programs, while shrinking budgets prevent libraries and recreation centers from offering their own visual-arts programs. ASI aims to fill the artistic void in these communities by fostering the visual arts and developing broader skills to help students thrive in all subjects.

 

Voting is closed! We will announce a winner shortly. Stay tuned!

Getting Started: Journaling Prompts



If you’re not a regular journal-keeper, getting started can be hard... and it can feel a little intimidating or even goofy. What do you write on the first page? Who’s your audience? Do you have to begin every entry with “Dear Diary”?

If you know you want to jump into journaling but aren’t sure where to start, we're here to help you get started! Over the next month or so we’ll be sharing 50 prompts that will help ease you into consistent journal-writing.

Prompts can help inspire your writing, getting you started when you're not sure what you're trying to say. A great prompt can push your stream-of-consciousness into introspection, and you'll be surprised to see your writing shift from a simple answer to a deeper look at the intricacies of your life.

Try tackling one prompt every day, writing as much or as little as you want. Try not to get intimidated, or push yourself to hard. Just start writing, and see where your thoughts take you.

Ready? Here are the first 10 prompts:

    1. Describe your ideal Sunday morning.
    2. What are you looking forward to this week?
    3. Where did you go on your last vacation, what was the best thing about that vacation?
    4. What is your go-to comfort food?
    5. Write about what you value most about your best friend.
    6. What is one thing about you that would surprise someone you just met?
    7. Describe a physical object that holds an important meaning for you.
    8. How do you relieve stress?
    9. Who is your favorite author?
    10. Describe one of your pet peeves.

Our Art Director Christiane started with #9, filling one of her Moonphase Bandana Duo journals with words about why the author Bernd Heinrich and his book "Life Everlasting: the Animal Way of Death" means so much to her. 

We’d love to hear how these prompts inspire you, and see how you choose to fill up your journals. Tag us on Instagram and use the hashtag #printfreshprompts, and we may even share your images with our followers!

JOURNALING 101

JOURNALING 101

I’ve been journaling for a long time. It may feel like a daunting task at first, but getting into the habit of regularly jotting down your thoughts can be seriously beneficial. What you write doesn’t have to be particularly profound - though, that may come later! Try setting aside a few minutes in the morning - maybe during your (first) cup of coffee - or as you’re unwinding at the day’s end. I think you’ll find that routine journaling will make you feel lighter and brighter.

There really are so many benefits of keeping a journal, and I’m definitely not the first to reflect on this. But today I wanted to share my top three favorite reasons - and why I keep reaching for mine, day after day.

MEMORY KEEPING

Have you ever stumbled on your childhood diary? If you have, then you know both the hilarious and heartbreaking memories you’ll probably find buried in the pages. Keeping a journal preserves these moments, transporting you right back to that exact point in time. I love recording what’s going on in my life - whether it’s a casual recap of my weekend or more-serious reflections about my goals and dreams - so I can be sure I’ll remember those little details five, ten, or even twenty years from now. Reading over old entries also helps me trace our shifting world (like, how did we exist before cell phones?!), and more specifically, shows me how I’ve changed and grown. 

SELF-AWARENESS AND MENTAL CLARITY

Journaling helps me practice self-awareness, which is widely considered an important key to being successful, and clarifies my thinking. There’s something about physically writing something down that really puts things into perspective for me. While talking to my husband and close friends is invaluable, journaling provides a special space to explore my inner-workings, without having to always make perfect sense. Recording and monitoring my thoughts, needs, and feelings is really helpful for understanding myself a bit better, and that brings me closer to something I think many people strive for: self-improvement.

CREATIVE OUTLET

A journal can hold other things besides your deepest secrets! For the more artistically-inclined, it’s the perfect place to sketch an idea you just can’t shake - I carry mine everywhere so I’m ready whenever creativity strikes. It’s where I try out concepts floating around my head, and parse out what’s working and what’s just not. Some pages are filled with endless doodles, while others have scribbled notes on a recent DIY project, or a favorite quote I want to remember. It doesn’t matter what you do to fill the pages - just enjoy the process of putting pen to paper.


If you’re ready to get started with journaling, your first step (and maybe the most fun!) is to pick up a fresh, new notebook. Head over here to check out all of the newest arrivals, and let me know in the comments which design is your fave!

- Amy

P.S. Stay tuned for weekly journaling prompts for creative writing ideas to fill your new notebooks and journals!

Gift Wrapping - Preppy Bride Edition

There are so many different styles of Brides out there we did not want to limit our Gift Wrapping - Bridal Edition to one style. Since so many of you enjoyed our Gift Wrapping -Bohemian Bride Edition, we wanted to share with you our gift wrapping for all of the lovely Preppy Brides out there!  
   
   
For these gifts we wrapped them using our layering technique, just limited the extra bells and whistles. The Preppy Bride loves soft colors, a little shimmer and, of course, flowers! With that being said, we wanted to encompass all of those attributes with these two lovely wrappings. 
  
  
We are always fans of pattern on pattern, so we finished our Foreign Bazaar Gift Wrap Sheet with a softly patterned silk ribbon. We then added a layer of vintage lace with gold tissue paper underneath to give a little extra shimmer. We added our gold foiled tags to finish it of.
 
 
For this gift we used our Blush Triangle Gift Wrap Sheet with two layered elements. We utilized the gold tissue paper for that extra shimmer  that every present needs, and softened it with our patterned silk ribbon. Next, we scavenged around our studio and found a beautifully illustrated flower. We sometimes like to find other items or illustrations around our studio to use in lieu of tags or cards- we think it adds a little extra charm to our gifts. 
 
 
 
We hope you enjoyed our versions of Bridal gift wrapping, happy wedding season!