Tokyo Creators Makes Every Child an Artist
A newly opened art school in Tokyo offers programs for all ages that help kids find their own creative expression through music, painting and other forms of art. The founder, Isaac Shultz, comes from a family of artists and has himself been creating art since a very young age. After studying painting in San Francisco and Hawaii, he came to Japan in 2001, and has since been involved in various art projects while also teaching at international schools. He opened Tokyo Creators in August 2013, and he recently sat down with Savvy at the space near Daikanyama and Shibuya to tell us more about it.
Just looking around the room and at the artwork here, I can see you certainly have some very talented kids! How do you help children find that creative side of themselves?
Don’t get in their way! I try to present them with scenarios that they perceive as discovering on their own; I create a space that empowers them and makes them feel like they are in control. So in that way they are not really discovering it, but rather releasing what they have inside, which gives them a quick confidence to do or try something they wouldn’t normally try. I believe this works, as I use this to get over my own creative blocks when painting or doing a design project.
Can you tell me a little more about the concept of Tokyo Creators?
It’s a space to share creativity and express yourself through creativity. It’s family based. A big part of what Tokyo Creators is, is that we wanted to practice what we teach, so we are not just selling the idea, but we all experience art and creativity every day and our message is we want to share this creativity with you and your family and your children, and introduce them to a gift that will stay with them forever.
What kind of programs do you have at Tokyo Creators?
We have pre-kinder, where your child is not ready to be dropped off but is definitely ready to start creating and having fun. That’s a very popular program, as you can come in as a young mother see your child experience new things, watch them grow. It’s two and a half hours a day, it has a pre-school feeling, and all the while you are building a creative relationship with your child that you can take home with you. Plus, you will have more confidence in your child that they will be OK when it becomes time to go to our preschool.
We also have a mother and child class which is actually for kids as young as one year. This is really a singing and music class, but now we actually do art with the mothers too, combining songs that make you paint fast or slow with the kids, which inspires them.
Our afterschool program is really a great mix of kids, we have kids from the British school come in or Japanese kids from our local school and they all have a great time, like we build a giant rocketship and that just gets everyone excited. They all understand what is going on. We are really big on that—that kids really understand what’s happening and get it. That meant so much to me when I was a kid, it was not just being told what to do, it was that I understood exactly what was going on and I wanted to get involved. Again, it’s all about empowering them to discover their own creativity. The Whole World Creators after school program is themed from week to week. We have weekly concepts of art projects like collective class murals, or we will have an activities concept around something like space and we will talk about the planets and do materials-based activities. This works really well for both native English speakers and ESL based learners.
Our Saturday school is basically the same program as the afterschool but a longer version, with more in-depth activities and at a slower pace, which is great so the kids can actually play while doing the activities. Also, we have a break to go to the park, too.
Saturday school is for three-year-olds to six-year-olds, the same as the after school program. We do have seven to 13-year-olds who really want to do art and we call that class Artre. They can choose what kind of materials they want to use, and also look at our materials for inspiration. They can even work on several pieces simultaneously to feel that they are in their own studio space—basically something you can’t do at home without getting it messy! It’s been very popular, actually.
Can you elaborate on how you incorporate music into your art classes?
Two of our teachers are very good musicians (Matty is a classically trained guitarist), and sometimes the collaboration between visual art and music becomes really easy to grasp for children, and when you have an audio and visual sensory experience that works really well. Maybe if I have created an art concept then Matty might think of a song to go with it, and they just work so well together at creating an atmosphere that the kids love. Also, our other teacher Masa is very rhythmical and also plays the ukulele, so it can get pretty raucous!
How can interested parents learn more or sign their kids up for the programs?
We are very new, so people can just come down and drop in to see what’s going on anytime, or if they would like a trial lesson they can just give us a call and we can schedule a suitable time and class. Or they can even come down when there is nobody here and really see if this is a fit for them.
One of the great feedbacks that we have from the parents is that the kids regard the space as their own place—it’s their “me” time—where they really love coming to do their art. They don’t regard it as a school, but rather a their space.
Address: 15-10 Uguisudani-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
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