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The value of after-school art classes for children with tutor René

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René de Lange,
Written by
Yusuf Tamanna
Published date
16 December 2020

At Future Creatives, we want to support the next generation of creative children and teenagers. By encouraging their artistic expression outside of the classroom, we want to nurture each student’s creative mind and help them develop life-long skills for their GCSEs, A-Levels and beyond.

To help you get to know us a bit better, we got together with one of our Future Creatives tutors René de Lange, who will be teaching on our Brighton-based courses. In our chat, René tells us why she wanted to get involved with Future Creatives, what students can expect on the course and what advice she has for the next generation of budding creatives.

Hi René! Do you remember first calling yourself 'an artist'?

I was always crafting as a child, doing papier-mâché and drawing on the walls every time my mum left me unattended as a toddler. I first called myself an artist when I started Primary School, and realised how much I loved any lessons that involved drawing and being creative

Speaking of schools, what were after school art clubs like when you were growing up? 

I grew up in South Africa, which is really a creative and colourful culture. I was really lucky that there was a local lady in our neighbourhood who used to offer affordable after-school art clubs. I won an international art competition when I was seven years old, which was thanks to my art teacher entering me at the time.

When I was in Secondary School, I started going to a different art class near our house after school. The reason why I became involved with Future Creatives is because I feel eternally grateful for those art classes I had as a child. These classes really allowed me to experiment with different media and exposed me to creative processes that really challenged me, and this gave me confidence for my future career.

What was your formal art education like? Did you always know art was your passion?

My art education really started with my after-school classes I attended as a child.

I went on to do art at GCSE level when we moved to England when I was 15. I found that the syllabus in school made the art a bit limiting for me, so I was always spending a lot of time outside school on my art.

I had a brilliant A-level art teacher, who encouraged me to go and study Fine Art. But I was too scared of not being able to get a job one day, so I worked hard on my other A-level subjects too, and got great grades, so I had the choice of which universities I wanted to go to.

I got a place at a brilliant university to study International Studies, but in the end I decided to follow my heart and go and do an Art Foundation course. Following my heart and devoting my time to my biggest joy in life, was the best thing I’ve ever done.

I went on to do a BA in Fashion Printed Textiles, and an MA at the Royal College of Art. I believe you can make a huge success as a creative person, and I’m proof that you can have a successful career doing what you love most.

A photo of a green wall with framed pictures and a seat

What keeps you inspired creatively, especially when you feel stuck?

Very often, when I feel stuck, I realise that it’s because I need to spend more time building my inspiration images, or it is time to go outside and be inspired by nature. I love looking at unusual sources of inspiration, outside of just fashion and textiles. If I try a new method of drawing or a new creative technique, this really spurs me on to develop as an artist. This is one of the reasons I believe Future Creatives can really open your mind to new possibilities

Are there any contemporary artists/designers that you’re really interested in or inspired by?

I’m so inspired by designers like Camille Walala, who create art beyond their canvas. I love that her art spans across fashion and architecture, that really inspires me. I also love illustrators like Mike Wilcox, who have a modern take on Art Deco illustration. Interior designers like Anna Glover really inspire me too, with the way they build whole ranges of beautiful prints and colours together. I’ll always love looking at Hockney, Picasso and Sonia Delaunay for colour inspiration though, we have so much to learn from classic artists.

What’s your advice to the next generation of young artists?

It’s such a cliché, but it really is true that you should follow your passion in life. If you do a job that is based on your talent and passion, you will be able to sustain a long career, and you’ll never feel like you haven’t achieved your big dreams.

Immerse yourself in your creativity and take as many opportunities as you can to learn new creative skills through programmes like Future Creatives. These skills really make you a better artist and designer in the long term.

If René has inspired you to consider how art courses can support the young people in your life, we have a wide range of art courses for children teenagers taught both online and Face to face.

Hear from another of our Future Creatives tutors, Lydia Brockless, on her own artistic practice and what students can come to expect from her own course.

Perhaps you want to know a bit more about how exactly art can support a child’s development, our It’s never too early: art classes for kids and teenagers article breaks down how creative learning supports young people’s ability to express themselves and nuggets of wisdom from our tutors.

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