Three cheers for Portland Child Art Studio—your Totally Awesome pick for best kids art classes in Portland for the second year in a row! This fab artistic space and nonprofit organization is clearly a favorite with Portland families; from getting messy to trying out new ideas in a new medium, kids are encouraged to explore their creativity and have fun. The PCAS mission is to support the perceptual development of children through artistic learning—and with two Totally Awesome awards under its belt, we think this studio is doing a great job.

Devon Mitchell, co-founder of PCAS, recently took the time to chat with us about what makes this studio so awesome, the inspiration behind it, and more. Read on:

Red Tricycle: Congratulations on being voted “Most Awesome” by your community! What do you think your customers value most about your business?

Devon Mitchell: The kids love the space. It is their space. They love that they can drip paint on the floor, cover anything in glitter and colored sand, explore any type of medium they can get their hands on, bring any imagined creation to life, and meanwhile, no one is going to be looking over their shoulder telling them how to do it “the right way.”

As for the parents, they value the opportunity to bring their kids here to make a creative mess that they don’t have to cleanup afterwards. They value the art treasures brought home that are 100% uniquely created by their child. But I hope what they value even more are the qualities that their children take away from the studio: self-confidence, focus, joy, and an ever deepening love for their own art and their own selves. That’s the real treasure of the Portland Child Art Studio.

RT: What inspired you to start your business?

DM: I attended an amazing place called the Berkeley Child Art Studio, for ten years, as a child. I grew up to be a painter at heart and then became a mother. A few years back, my husband and my father and I took a trip to Mexico to visit Miriam de Uriarte, the woman who ran the Berkeley Child Art Studio for 25 years. While we were there, Miriam started bringing out slides of my child art and then slides of other children’s art. She piled dozens of books about child art and perceptual development around my bed to read at night. By the time we left Mexico, I realized that she was inviting me to recreate the space that I had loved so much as a child. More importantly, I realized that it was this space that had made me the artist I am today, and thus I was inspired to build the Portland Child Art Studio for a whole new generation of kids. Today, Miriam de Uriarte is my mentor and the Vice-President of our Board of Directors.

RT: Any advice for new business owners just getting started?

DM: To tell you the truth, I’m not actually the most business savvy person.  I’d just say, if your heart is in it, then you are probably doing the right thing.

RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?

DM: I feel really blessed to be a parent and to run a nonprofit arts organization. For me, the Portland Child Art Studio is a portal to a community of amazing parents and children, parents who become friends and kids who blow me away on a daily basis with their creativity and imagination. I’m most proud to be part of a community and to be creating community, because honestly, when it comes down to it, as a business owner and as a parent, community is it.

RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?

DM: Yes. Red Tricycle readers can get 10% off when they register for a full session of classes!

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