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Mint Artists Guild lifts up young Detroit artists, helps them turn their passion into a career

'I would describe it as life changing.'
Posted at 1:21 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 13:21:41-05

(WXYZ) — "I would describe it as life changing," said Alexis Bagley, vice president of the Board of Directors for Mint Artists Guild.

Mint Artists Guild has lifted up Detroit’s young artists since 2015, equipping them with the skills they need to build a career that they may have never thought possible.

"I never knew that you could be an artist because nobody really talks about it, you know?" said Bagley.

The local nonprofit runs a range of programs; there’s the Creative Summer Jobs Program, where they hire young artists to make art. They pay them and then donate most of the art back to charitable organizations.

And then there’s Learn and Earn, where budding artists are taught how to sell their beautiful works at fairs and other events.

"If they start learning entrepreneurship and career skills when they're 15 or 16, by the time they're 19 or 20, it feels that more natural to them. It's not like it's a foreign language so much anymore," said Vickie Elmer, Mint Artists Guild co-founder and executive director.

Elmer says the nonprofit helps give young artists a sense of accomplishment.

"They create a lot more art than they've ever created in a short period of time. And some of them sell art for a lot more money than they thought they could sell it for. I mean, we've had young people sell as much as $2,000 in art in one weekend," she said.

Cass Tech student Faith Jones-Honey worked in the Creative Summer Jobs Program last year, and Mint has since hired her as a part-time studio assistant.

"It has most definitely boosted my confidence. It allows me to make a lot of new connections," she said of Mint.

Bagley says, "Mint gives you so many opportunities that you might not know that you have, you might not know the things that you can do. Mint is a lovely organization to be a part of as an artist."

And while Mint’s major focus is on building up young artists, they do it through lifting up the community and encouraging children to embrace art.

"Thousands of children have made art with Mint, too, because we make coloring pages and we do free arts and crafts, and we let the youth come up with creative arts and crafts activities to to run, you know, for for young kids. And that's really a lot of fun, too," said Elmer.

Elmer says the goal for the nonprofit is continued growth, enriching more lives of our community’s youth.

"I could see that happening in Detroit, where we would have 200 young artists painting murals and painting art and making mosaics and running arts and crafts programs in the summer and doing community art activations, and they'd all be paid for it. And I want that to happen. Detroit deserves that. Detroit youth deserve that," she said.

As for Jones-Honey, thanks to her talent, work ethic and experience with Mint, her sights are set on her dreams.

"I hope to open my own studio and also really do what Ms. Vickie's doing here and help out other young artists," she said.

Elmer says Mint is really in need of a van so they can take students to their exhibits across the region and also send out art supplies. If you want to find out more about Mint Artists Guild or donate to their efforts, check out their website.