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Meet Amanda Harrison of Art Cube Studios in Plainfield

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Harrison.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Amanda. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As silly as it may sound, it all started with an art award in elementary school… somewhere around 2nd grade. I made a butterfly out of gluing beans to a pre-drawn shape. I remember it vividly.

Each of us were allowed to do this project two at a time at the front of the classroom. I was the last to get to work on mine and I could hardly wait, but my teacher told me I was so very patient, so I became patient. Then, she put my butterfly in the library art show! OMG! I was SO excited! I remember that excitement and I remember the library and I know where to find my butterfly! … AND A RIBBON!?!?! I won something for my bean butterfly!? I don’t remember what, but I do remember the feeling. Since then, my parents have always supported my love of art and I went on to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and then a K-12 teaching credential endorsed in art from Arizona State University.

After college, I went through a variety of artistic and non-artistic jobs as I worked on the side as an artist showing and selling art through galleries and commissions. Then, I moved to California where I taught art in a middle school until I became ill and resigned. I didn’t realize it, but my life would drastically change with a stage IV cancer diagnosis and a prognosis of 6 months to live… that was 10 years ago! After recovering from surgeries, I decided I needed to be closer to my family, which brought me back to Illinois. Unfortunately, this was during the recession and jobs were scarce, and now I was limited physically. So, as I created art, I ended up creating work for myself through Art Cube and it went from there.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Does anyone ever really have a smooth road? No. This has never been a smooth road, but it’s usually those bumpy paths that are the most interesting and memorable. I’m an artist who drives a Jeep… I love bumpy roads! Art is sadly a subject that is often undervalued, belittled even and done so in a way that is obvious and sometimes shocking. The struggle of educating people about the life-skills learned through art is very real. As an artist, I think that anyone that goes into a business such as this doesn’t expect to get rich and famous… some may hope, but most create art for the love of art and we teach share our knowledge of art… to keep art alive. But both art and teaching give back in such intense unique ways that it is what we intrinsically inherit that keeps us continuing. I opened a business… with an art degree. Let that sink in for a minute.

Naturally, because of this, I struggle with the business of running a business, of course.

Fortunately for me, I have an art degree, and that makes me an exceptional problem-solver… and so Art Cube continues to grow.

Please tell us about Art Cube Studios.
Art Cube exists as an immersive environment for people of all ages to enjoy life through the creative process. We are known mostly for our high service standards, specialized knowledge and friendliness.

We offer a wide variety of art classes from basic crafts to advanced painting and drawing. Most of our art classes run one hour a week for four weeks. Some classes are more advanced and will run for two or three hours at a time and some will go as long as six weeks. Our most popular age is elementary, but we have a healthy following of teens and adults as well. In addition to monthly classes, we also run weekly art camps, 2- and 3-hour workshops, family nights, adult BYOB paint nights, etc. You can view a calendar of class options, which changes monthly, on our website. Some people prefer more attention and so we also offer independent sessions for one-on-one instruction.

Parties are popular at Art Cube. Mostly, we book a lot of elementary age birthday parties, but we also get quite a few middle school parties and even bachelorette nights out for the BYOB themed events. Parties are generally two hours long and we have a variety of options to choose from with regards to activities and packages.

Our staff is educated, very skilled and we are all active artists, so when students come to Art Cube, they learn from instructors who can answer challenging questions and help them develop concepts, grow from any level and handle mistakes so that they take knowledge away with them with their completed artwork. We highly emphasize and encourage the imagination! None of our lessons are cookie-cutter; we push creativity.

Art Cube was the first art studio in the Plainfield area. There are now smaller ones around competing for our customers, but I feel we still stand above and alone based on our kind and knowledgeable staff, inviting and gorgeous environment, flexibility and unique classes. We use all non-toxic, professional grade art supplies as well. This is something not often found. We teach students about materials and safety concerns for when they are ready to set up a studio at home.

We guide them. We really are exclusive in so many ways… and are very versed in our ability to place and advance students with any set of skills- even if they have never made art before but just might be interested in trying.

Once a year, our studio transforms into a gallery-like setting for our annual student show.

Students not only show their work but have the option to sell as well… and they do! Some of our younger artists light up when we hand them an envelope with their money and a congratulatory letter and our teens get nervously excited when someone offers to pay them for a commission piece. It’s an absolutely amazing event for them and for us! We proudly display their artworks as a “thank you” to them and to let them feel what it is like as an artist with an opening. There is food and beverages along with a congratulatory cake and even live music. This is a very well-attended event that our customers have grown to look forward to each year. It is always free and open to the public, so if you’d like to really see what we are all about, stop in! This year, our show will be held on Saturday, September 16th from 5-8pm. Of course, it is family friendly.

There are so many things to be proud of, but I think I am most proud of the environment that I have created. Whether a student, a parent or a staff member, people look forward to being at Art Cube and that’s something that is unparalleled! It’s a FUN place to be! I love it. LOVE it!

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I have a lot of favorite memories from childhood, thankfully. Now that I’m older, I see that I was a strange child. I can understand a little more why my parents probably encouraged my artistic career… it seems so fitting. When I tell a story of when I was younger, I often hear “why am I not surprised?” My kids literally hound me to tell stories. I don’t find them so odd, but I suppose they are. My family has a lot of Griswold-like stories and most people that know us well, do use that name for us, so I have a lot of great memories.

 

Pricing:

  • Standard 1-hour, 4-week classes are $75. Members receive a discount. We offer a re-enrollment discount as well. All materials are always included in all of our classes.
  • Annual Memberships. Individual: $50. Family: $75
  • Special Events (2-hour parties) start at $250.
  • Independent Sessions: $40/hour. $50/hour with me (Amanda)

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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