ACR20: Giving back, platforming a diverse generation of creatives


ACR20: Giving back, platforming a diverse generation of creatives

Oscar Ralf

As part of ACR20 - our celebration of 20 years of Acrylicize - we are placing our focus on giving back, extending our services, advice, and a helping hand to those who need it. Here, we take a look at our studio’s educational outreach programme and reaffirm our responsibility to open opportunities for a diverse generation of creatives.

So far, our educational outreach programme has touched everything from partnerships with universities, schools and youth clubs, to events, workshops and exhibitions by young people, held at our home, The Art House. As a young person, especially those from underrepresented communities, it can be hard to see what a career in the creative industries looks like, let alone how to get there. Acrylicize itself was borne out of a university art project, and many of our team joined us as interns and work experience students, direct from university or school - we’ve been there, so we all want to help.

Facilitation and building community through The Art House London & New York

The Art House is a living, breathing space for communities to come together, to celebrate and facilitate creativity. It’s our home, and we invite others to join us in the space to express themselves in whichever way they like. It’s somewhere to connect with and discover new perspectives. Over in The Art House NY at the start of 2023, Acrylicize’s Lead Designer, Carly Klaire, invited 20 students from Syracuse University’s BFA Communication Design programme into our New York space for a day of talks, insights and creative challenges.

The soon-to-be graduates were at the point in their education where career decisions loom, so to give them an idea of what the world of work could look like we challenged them to do what we do on a daily basis: activate a space through art, design, and experience. You can see more on what went down here.

In May 2023, we welcomed RISE 365 into The Art House UK for a project called ‘Changing the Narrative’, which involved a series of creative workshops, led by artist, designer and signpainter, Hannah Dickins. RISE 365 is a community youth organisation from our local area, doing truly incredible work with young black people in Hackney.

Opening access to a world of creative opportunities

An essential aim of our educational outreach programme is to platform the next generation, and to offer them tangible routes into our industry. The curation team at Acrylicize operates with much the same aim on many of our commercial projects for brands like Knotel, LinkedIn and WPP - they go out and look for exciting artists that might be just on the come up, or have limited experience within the commercial art world, then find ways of helping them get a foot in the door. Through a mutual contact at Whitechapel Gallery, one of our Senior Curators, Jo McLaughlin, was asked to get involved with Creative Mentor Network (CMN) - an organisation that strives to make the creative world of work more inclusive.

Gaining access to the creative world is something that Jo had to navigate alone when she left university, and as such, the work done by CMN was close to her heart. Alongside becoming a mentor for CMN, Jo helped to create an event and exhibition of works by mentees at CMN in celebration of Black History Month 2022 - two artists from this exhibition were then brought into a commercial project for Wembley Park London, creating a closed loop of mentoring, platforming and paid work for a large client.

Other examples of the educational outreach programme reaching across into the commercial work of Acrylicize, include a commission of 9 students for our project at Unilever’s Four Acres site. In collaboration with Unilever, Studio KT1 and Kingston University, the commission allowed young artists to gain work experience and exposure as part of the renewed Unilever Art Collection. Elsewhere, our partnership with first-year fashion students from London Metropolitan University helped deliver a fashion show at their campus, and facilitated a mentorship programme. Imagery of the collections developed for the show have been transformed into a large mural, that will be shown at Devonshire Square in London, as part of a forthcoming Acrylicize commercial project.

School of Visual Arts New York City Student Simiao Wang, Open call for students at Spotify New York

A bespoke GCSE module for Daydream Believers

Acrylicize designer and ball of energy, Lucy Eades, leads our education outreach programme. Early in 2023, she created a bespoke GCSE module for a curriculum set out by Daydream Believers - a non-profit based in Scotland, on a mission to transform how young people are educated. Lucy’s module focussed on wellbeing, and encouraged students to use art as a means to create wellbeing spaces within their schools. Lucy’s key message to the students who were to study the module was simple: mistakes, failure and hurdles aren’t to be feared, they’re a driver for creativity.

It didn’t stop there.

Daydream Believers partnered with D&AD to create the D&AD New Gen Awards - a brand new award that gives school-age kids their first taste of a creative awards process. As part of Lucy’s work on the GCSE module, she was asked to be on the judging panel for the inaugural New Gen Awards. She laughed, she cried, and was totally blown away by the level of creative thinking on show - good signs for things to come from the creatives of tomorrow.

Looking forward to the future

As we look forward to the future, we want to expand and evolve our education outreach programme to reach and inspire more people. If we can offer access to our world, give opportunities for expression, and help build a community of inspired and engaged young people, then that’s a job well done.

Do you work in education, with young people, or just want to know more about what we get up to with our outreach programme? Get in touch.

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