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Plan for the future with your artistic teen

Parents share how they support their creative children

Plan for the future with your artistic teen

Ben Solliday's mother nurtures her son's creativity and provides him with any opportunity she can.

For teens who have an aptitude and passion for the arts, choosing a path to a successful future art career can be daunting. With so many options yet so little guarantee, parents of artistically inclined teens need to be a source of both support and guidance for their children.

Go beyond the gallery
Todd Poteet, former director of visual arts at The Art Effect in Poughkeepsie, believes, "Many folks fail to understand what 'art jobs' actually are. People need to broaden their horizons as to just what exactly an art career could mean."  

Pigeonholing careers in art down to solely producing art, showing it in galleries and selling it to art collectors is a common misconception many folks make. Poteet says, "There are numerous careers that combine the intellectual and the creative. Some probably don't even exist yet."

In fact, statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show that there are currently more jobs available in art-related fields than in any other field in the country. Why? According to Poteet, the answer can be found within our culture. "America is the largest exporter of arts and entertainment in the world," says Poteet. Along with the United States' massive quantities of art exports, Poteet further states, "Every man-made object in the world, at some point, an artist sat down and drew."

Support your artistic teen
"There is so much involved with supporting an artistic teenager," says Lisa Aiello of Marbletown, whose daughter Olivia, 16, is a painter and photographer. Aiello and her husband, both artists themselves, are no strangers to the demands and challenges of pursuing art careers. They rely on their understanding and past experiences as creative types to help support their daughter as she heads down a similar journey of her own. Currently, Olivia has a full art studio in her bedroom. "My husband and I help critique her work, when she allows us to," Aiello explains. "There is a fine line between being supportive and pushing too hard," she adds.

Of course, not all parents of artistic teens are artists themselves. JoAnn Solliday of Poughkeepsie, whose son Ben, 14, is a painter and sculptor, likens the nurturing of her son's passion for art to that of the typical 'sports parent.' Just as an athletically gifted child would be given varying opportunities and experiences to further develop his aptitude for a particular sport, Solliday does the same for Ben. This includes transporting Ben to and from his art classes, paying for Ben's art class tuition, and purchasing his art materials. Solliday has also traveled long distances so that Ben could experience art opportunities out of the state.

Plan for the future
Although earning a college degree in art is not necessarily required for success in the field, many artistic teens choose to do so. Typical reasons include improving their overall skill set, networking opportunities and overall growth as an artist. The Art Effect offers similar services but for preschool through high school-aged students, with a focus on offering additional guidance for teen artists in addition to what their parents can currently provide.

When discussing future options, many parents of artistic teenagers find it important to keep their child's passion for the arts in mind. Karissa Viglietta of Newburgh fiercely supports her daughter Gwen, currently a high school senior with an aptitude for drawing and painting. Viglietta says, "I encourage Gwen to focus on what gives her the most joy. I fully support her being an art major and developing a career in art." Additionally, Viglietta states, "Gwen is happiest and most peaceful when painting, drawing or creating. She has a talent for creating, and I would like for her to see it through."

For Brian Lasusa of Poughquag, guiding his artistically inclined teen has less to do with the arts themselves. "It has everything to do with raising your children with kindness, love, a sense of responsibility to help others, and treating them as 'people' all throughout their development."

His daughter Hannah, 19, is a sophomore at FIT majoring in fashion design, and seems to already be well on her way to finding her own unique niche in the art and fashion worlds. "Through Hannah's studies at FIT and her love of fashion, science, and people, particularly children, she is now looking into the possibility of designing fashionable, appropriate clothing for children who have developed long term illnesses that would be accepting of the different cords or tubes medically necessary for these children to receive treatment and care."  
Todd Poteet says, "Art shapes the future. What was once thought impossible becomes possible and can intrigue and inspire new generations." With so many career possibilities in art, with hard work, the likelihood for success and fulfillment can be high. And while neither future success nor fulfillment can ever be guaranteed, for those born with a passion and aptitude to create, a life without art already lacks success and fulfillment, making whatever risks that may accompany the pursuit of an art career completely worth taking.

Jill Valentino is a wife, mom of two, elementary educator, and lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley.

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