Whether you haven’t picked up a paint brush in 20 plus years or have a youngster that loves art, there’s a little something for everybody at Art With Anna. The Bexley art studio recently expanded to a new home at 420 N Cassady Ave. and has added a storefront with art supplies and locally made gifts and items.
Art With Anna was actually an experience long before it became a business. When she was younger at that sweet spot between babysitting and too young to get a real job, Art Educator and Owner Anna Sokol would round up neighborhood kids and for $5, they would spend the afternoon doing art with Anna. Sokol would eventually become an art teacher by education, but struggled to find full-time position between long tenures and diminishing art programs
“I was desperate to teach art so I found a basement for rent and did summer camps,” Sokol says. She subbed at several local districts and eventually landed a full-time teaching position in Pickerington, all while continuing to offer art classes for children in her spare time. After the full-time position only lasted one year due to a failed levy and cut art program, Sokol decided to go all in and pursue Art With Anna full-time. It was time to do it the right way and put her all into it.
“It’s been this really weird organic road,” Sokol says. “I didn’t plan any of this, that’s what’s wild.”
While it may not have been in the plans, it has surely been a success. When she made the decision to move to full-time about two years ago, Sokol decided to add classes for adults as well. Now they make the bread and butter of her business.
Art With Anna offers a variety of classes and programs for adults and children. For the kiddos there are art camps, after school classes and parties. For adults, there are classes, corporate team building events and the increasingly popular Wine Your Art Out that combines some time with a brush and a bottle of wine.
During classes for adults and kids alike, attendees receive step-by-step instructions for painting their very own works of art. In addition to helping the art educators prepare, having a set painting and step-by-step instructions is beneficial for painters as well.
“For anybody that hasn’t painted since elementary school there needs to be some sort of structure,” Sokol says of the adults. It’s also a guarantee for a no-fail project with good results.
Art With Anna is making art accessible. And while she has always been teaching children, Sokol enjoys bringing art to adults. She says that as adults age, they are often encouraged to take a certain path and not be as creative, but “People are finally ok with being creative again. It’s fun for adults to be painting and creating again.”
Creating is an outlet for both adults and children.
“To me it’s this amazing form of therapy and people don’t really know it,” Sokol says. When people are doing the classes, they often are just thinking about the painting. And, when it comes to a room full of rowdy youngsters, Sokol says put a paintbrush in their hands and things get quiet.
Sokol has been awed by the outpouring of community support. However, the experience hasn’t been without its challenges.
“The biggest challenge is that I’m an art teacher running a business,” Sokol says. It’s been a road of figuring it out herself and trial and error.
One step Sokol has taken as a business owner is to join Experience Columbus. She says about a year ago she was at a luncheon where business owners she knew were standing up and sharing how the organization had helped them – an endorsement from people she trusted.
“The biggest thing for me was there was nothing like me in their directory,” Sokol says. It’s a great option for families and those just seeking something to do.
Experience Columbus has driven traffic to Art With Anna just by her signing up. Sokol says groups come in that say they found her on the Experience Columbus website. She’s also looking forward to taking advantage of more of the organization’s resource in 2015.
In addition to building awareness, “I think it’s a good resource to just find people that are wanting to collaborate in Columbus,” Sokol says. She is always looking for ways to collaborate with local artists or vendors to bring more goods to the newly constructed shop.
For more information, visit artwithanna.com.