Three decades ago Las Vegan Kim Bavington started her business Art Classes for Kids. The company has gone on to inspire generations of young artists to hone their creativity and embrace a lifelong love for the arts. Bavington knows thinking freely is where kids’ minds intuitively roam, and she’s all about providing an environment for that magic. This summer she is kicking off a new business venture, ART CAMP IN A BOX.
“Normally, my summers are packed with weeklong art camps, which sell out every year—they’re my single most popular program of the year,” she explains. “Knowing I would have to pivot due to social distancing guidelines, I created ART CAMP IN A BOX. I’m really excited about this opportunity because it allows me to bring art supplies and our uniquely fun, innovative projects and educational instruction to kids and families around the country for the first time. Kids will have the flexibility to make these projects at home on their own time through tutorial project videos. They can also participate in live Zoom groups, led by me, if they want classroom interaction while still practicing social distancing.”
Career Building Blocks
Growing up Bavington had not planned to become an art teacher (and especially not a virtual one). Yet many of her career experiences were the perfect building blocks for figuring out how to teach art. Bavington worked through college as an aerobics instructor, model, restaurant hostess, and freelance graphic designer. She especially credits teaching aerobics with learning how to keep students engaged during class. “If a teacher doesn’t look excited to be there, students, no matter their age, could get bored and may easily decide not to come back,” she stresses.
After earning a BFA from UNLV, Bavington worked as an advertising art director before launching a successful graphic design firm dubbed Artworks. Several years later she left for France to further her arts education at The Sorbonne in Paris. Bavington then returned to Nevada and began teaching art to kids of friends on weekends.
Word of mouth marketing quickly led to more students, and Bavington officially opening Art Classes for Kids with a storefront in a shopping center. One could argue Las Vegas and teaching are in Bavington’s blood. Her father, Rudy Crisostomo, was a staple in the electric “neon” sign industry. His designs lit up the Vegas Strip for years. Crisostomo too had a passion for teaching. As a guest instructor he taught at Interior Design Institute of Nevada and the Las Vegas Art Institute, inspiring many students.
Space to Teach
In the late 1990s Bavington purchased a Mid Mod fixer-upper in downtown Las Vegas. It had ample space and a “rec” room, which for over a decade was Bavington’s husband’s studio. Following his move to a larger commercial space, she took over the home studio just prior to the birth of their twins. Now, with a convenient place to teach art, Bavington’s business continued blooming as more enthusiastic kids came through her doors. To this day students ages range from five to 12, with many graduating to a “Volunteer Program” to assist with teaching class until they can become bonified paid assistants at 16 through high school graduation. Bavington believes introducing kids to both the modern masters and progressive contemporary artists is what sets her classes apart from competitors who have come and gone over the years.
She keeps in contact with a large number of her students, several of which have told “Ms. Kim” she made a huge impact on their ability to truly see and appreciate art. Recently, a student told her she had run into a very famous artist at a gallery event. The student told the man she had learned about his work in Bavington’s class and then texted her mother to send a picture of the work created from that class, which still hung in her childhood home. The older artist broke into a wide smile when shown this picture of a long-ago elementary art piece inspired by his work.
“There are times the art world comes across snobby and exclusive,” Bavington says. “My goal is to cut through that jargon and bring high art to a place where kids from anywhere can gravitate to and learn through engagement and inspiration.”
Bavington launched her YouTube channel in 2019. Many lessons draw inspiration from master artists. The channel also has interviews with former students who have gone onto careers in the visual arts and other notable artists. Bavington’s eleven-year-old twins often assist her, with daughter Lily appearing in front of the camera and son Jet filming. ART CAMP IN A BOX is the latest chapter in this online venture, one Bavington is grateful to experience as the project unfolds.
“I am honestly not a fan of art competitions, but I am a huge fan of kids creating and sharing their works,” she says. “This new online platform gives kids, who might be shy about making art in a classroom setting, a new outlet for their creativity. Admittedly, learning all these online platforms felt like going back to school, but the opportunity to connect with so many more kids makes it all worthwhile. I love what I do and believe the arts will continue to carry us through challenging times. I see it every time a child shares a photo of them, proudly showing me their work of art after watching one of my videos.”
Update: Bavington continues to provide virtual art instruction via her Art Classes for Kids YouTube channel, ART CAMP IN A BOX, and seasonal ART BOXES.
Top image by Emily Wilson Photography, provided by Kim Bavington.
Second photo provided by Kim Bavington.