Art smarts

Three up-and-coming young entrepreneurial artists share their plans.

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Eleven-year-olds Arieanna Leavitt and Isabella Silva, along with 12-year-old Caroline Conover, all sixth graders, run an art business that puts the traditional kids’ lemonade stand to shame. These young women are go-getters of the first degree. When I covered a children’s nutrition and cooking class at the Edgartown library last month, Arieanna and Isabella approached me with the idea for a story: Might I be interested in their entrepreneurial art enterprise? After hearing only a little about their endeavor, I was instantly sold, impressed by their ingenuity and youthful ambition.

In December 2018, the girls came together to pursue their passion for producing artwork. “Kids these days, they are usually on their phone, and I’m usually free,” Isabella said. “I thought it would be a good idea to spend time with friends and do something we all enjoy. So, me and Caroline decided to join Arieanna and then sell it.”

“When I was little, I used to like to draw, and have been drawing and drawing and drawing,” Caroline added

Arieanna, who has been a working artist since she was about 3 years old, said she was inspired by art. “My mom used to draw pictures for me, and ever since that day I’ve basically been painting and drawing, because I usually had nothing to do when I was at home and I was always bored,” she said. “My mom used to buy me paints and stuff, so ever since that I’ve been practicing my painting and drawing every day after school so we can succeed in our business.”

I asked about the entrepreneurial angle of their venture. “We all thought of selling it because we wanted people to see how much effort we put into this,” Isabella said.

“We started planning to paint, and have business days and see what we could do,” Arieanna added. Surveying the paintings laid out on the table, the young ladies told me that they frequently work collaboratively on their art pieces. “If it turns out good, we all decide if we want to sell it,” Arieanna said. They also work together on deciding the pricing, factoring in the cost of the paint, canvas, and brushes as well as the amount of effort they put into making each painting.

The group has lots of adult fans who have helped nurture them along the way. First and foremost is Elyce Retmier, children’s librarian at the Edgartown library. “We always offer arts and crafts after school. The group came in one day saying they were starting their own art club and purchasing their own supplies, and asked if they could meet and have their group, and they would be selling their artwork,” Retmier said. “They had thought of everything, and I wanted to make sure they would keep going with this and really be encouraged to run with it. We made up some signage and set up a table in the library in front of the doors, putting all their artwork on display … I bought their first painting from them, commissioning them to do a painting for my husband. He delivered a baby in the ambulance, and so he had a big ceremony for that. They did a canvas with a stork and the EMS symbol and the date. It’s at home on our wall now, and it’s pretty cool.”

Another supporter is their English Language Arts teacher, Erin Simmons, who told them to “keep doing what makes you happy,” Arieanna said.

“We sold one to Mrs. Nelson, our social studies teacher,” Isabella said. “She saw our art and was really impressed. She wanted to buy one of our art pieces, and ever since that day she’s been influencing us to keep going with it. She helped us figure out the prices because she knows about tax, economy, stuff like that.”

The girls have spent almost $100, all told, on materials. Caroline’s mother helped get them started, buying the group their first set of materials. Since then they have been using the profits from their sales to buy art materials, minus the amount they donate to the library for helping them.

“We have acquired many happy customers. Elyce [Retmier], she was really happy with hers,” Caroline said. The girls also told me that they gave one to their science teacher, Mrs. Gelinas, explaining that she is obsessed with sloths, which was the image in that painting.

However, the girls have been so prolific they have too much inventory, and have decided to suspend creating any more paintings. Arieanna explained, “That’s why we wanted to start selling more and getting our art noticed, and that’s why we wanted to contact you. We want people to see our art and want to get it.” Their prices are certainly reasonable, from about $1.75 to about $8. They’ve netted about $90 in just four months.

Throughout our interview, I kept eyeing a small box that Caroline had painted, the only three-dimensional object. It kept calling to me, and I couldn’t resist purchasing it for myself. You will have your own opportunity to acquire a piece by the talented young artists when you visit the Edgartown library.

The young ladies’ work can be found at #art_banana123 on Instagram, and for more information about the artwork that can be purchased at the Edgartown library, call 508-627-4221.