When Andrew Young noticed that the number of artists at the Circle City Industrial Complex was increasing, he wanted to be sure that kids got in on the fun as well. After all, superhero films (the highest grossing movies in the last few years) have introduced a new generation of readers to comics, spurning huge changes in both DC and Marvel Universes. Kids like comics again! Artists make comics! Let’s get kids making comics with artists! BOOM! POW! ZAP!
Young’s idea for a project sought to meet two goals: give kids the opportunity to create a piece of graphic art that they could take with them, while promoting CCIC to the surrounding neighborhood. With the idea in place, and an awesome industrial space available for use, Young applied for (and won) a $1,000 Nice Grant and held classes earlier this year.
We chatted with Young about the project and his plans for future artistic endeavors.
Nice Grants: What is your background in art?
Andrew Young: In HS I got a scholarship to Heron and went up two days a week for painting and illustration courses, but ultimately went to college for nonprofit management.
I am self taught aside from Heron but have continued to self publish comics and a few successful Children's Books. As an illustrator I do a lot of commission work, beer and t-shirt logos, as well as event posters.
Now I have a studio at CCIC and spend my evenings there a few times a week working on various projects.
How did you get into all of these different fields of art (toys, comics, clothing, painting)?
I have always been drawn to independent comics rather than the big names. Image was huge when I was growing up because it was so artist driven and a departure from Marvel/DC. At the same time Calvin and Hobbes, Bone, Usagi Yojimbo, Dark Knight Returns were all big titles I got in my "Pull Box".
So through those influences (Jeff Smith, Bone self publishing especially) I begin to see that with some minor prep in the digital age I could join with other "makers" and artists to create my own comics, shirts, etc. I have a great time attending Craft Brew Doodle Crew due to its large contingent of artists who create their own materials and don't rely too heavily on outside sponsorship for their success.
What inspired the idea for Creative Classes?
I want to provide youth (all youth) a vision of their future where they can MAKE the things in their imagination and not just sit in front of a book or tv and consume it. Consuming the material is only halfway, but to be productive you need to give kids the vision and the resources to create. Hence...FREE creative classes where we discuss comics, video games, toys, pop culture from beginning to end. The end being they take on the mantle.
A more selfish reason is that if I could teach about comic books, illustration, and how to self-publish as a full-time job, I would.
What was the original goal of the program? Was there a specific reason why you focused on the Circle City Industrial Complex area or Brookside community?
Growing up the I was in trouble a lot and made some pretty awful choices. I came from a low-income household and a single parent home. Creativity was one of my ONLY outlets and I was lucky to have several mentors in my life that fostered that thirst for creativity.
Now that I am a director for a non-profit I have a broad view of low income or at-risk children who may be interested in this new wave of comic book heroes and video game design but only having the resources to read the books or play the games. Some of them don't even have that in their life.
The near east side is growing and has a lot of potential but that can't just lay in the hands of our elected officials or city planners. Artists and business owners need to be a part of shaping those opportunities for youth to feel safe, welcome, and invested in what we are all trying to achieve for Indianapolis.
Finding an art studio right in the heart of some great changes in linking neighborhoods and investment in community helped a lot. Jen Eamon with the Brookside Neighborhood Association and Genna Pianki with CCIC helped a lot in getting the word out and developing a strategy.
What was your process/method on teaching these forms of artwork?
History of Graphic Novels, Comics, and Independent Artists
Basic Materials (Sketchbooks, Paper, Pencil, Ink, Eraser)
Developing a Story with Antagonist/Protagonist or just basic narrative
Creating a Setting
Storyboarding (panel to sequence, sequence to page, page to story)
Fonts and Lettering
Submission (we usually don't get this far in the time allotted)
How many attendees did you have in first class?
Do you have bigger plans or next steps you'd like to pursue with this?
I am still in the experimentation stage as far as teaching these classes. This is the fourth one I have done this year. The others at various Indiana libraries and organizations.
I would like to find a way to fund this kind of class monthly, or weekly. I think Art With a Heart has a great model but I'd like to focus on Young Adults/Teens which are most at-risk.
What were some of your favorite projects that came out of the class?
The stories the kids come up with are some of the most insane and interesting pieces I have ever read. Some of them are out there like the Cannibal Gummy Bears we used as an example in this last class. Others are very personal and endearing. These kids have something to say.