13 Questions To Ask Yourself When Teaching An Art Workshop

By Nicole Tinkham


Congratulations, you’ve made the decision to take your art to the next level and start teaching art workshops. That is huge! If you’re taking this on, we’ll assume you’ve attended an art workshop in the past or have a general idea of what they’re all about. However, there are many behind the scenes things you must consider that will either make or break your art workshop. Planning ahead is definitely the key and we’ll discuss 13 questions to ask yourself when teaching an art workshop so you’re ready to rock your first session.

1.    What is your goal?
Consider why you’re teaching this art workshop. Is it to get your name out there as an artist? Make a little money on the side? Earn a full time income? Meet new local artist friends? Help and inspire other artists? Be clear on what you want to accomplish with your art workshop so you can gauge whether or not it was a success.

2.    Where will the workshop be held?
Next you’ll need to determine where you’ll host this art workshop. You can do it in your own studio, rent a space, see if you can be featured in local art stores, or create videos and host your workshops online. We have many artists come into Keeton’s to host their art workshops and they get paid a certain percentage of each sign up. This tends to work out well for both the artist and the art store.

3.    How will you promote the workshop?
Promoting is often something we forget about until the very end of the planning stage however, we urge you to consider it in the very beginning. It’s great to have this master plan for the workshop itself but what kind of class would it be without anyone to attend? Consider how you will be inviting people to your workshop. Will you create flyers? Emails? Social media marketing? If you have no idea where to start, there are a ton of resources out there on the web to help you with the process as well as any experienced art instructors. Here at Keeton’s, we promote art workshops on our website, flyers in our store, emails and on our Facebook page.

4.    How will students see what you’re doing?
This is something that’s commonly forgotten when planning an art workshop. It is so important for the students to see what you’re doing so you must consider the amount of space around your work area. Is there enough room for artists to gather around and clearly view the technique you’re showing? Or will you be bringing in a mirror for artists to view from their own work area while they follow along? Something new we just added to our art room is a camera which projects a close up view of the instructor at work on large screens. This has been a total game changer for our workshops and the art students seem to really love it.

5.    How will you teach?
In the beginning, you won’t yet have a teaching style but it is something to consider. Will you walk around the room, helping students one on one? Will you have students follow along with you through the whole thing? Will you do a lot of talking and explaining? Or will it be more actual painting? With time, you’ll figure out what works best for you.

6.    Who is this workshop for?
You’ll also have to think about who would benefit from your art workshop. We like to think of a very specific avatar whenever we talk to our audience. Who will your art workshop be geared to? What skill level will they be at? How old are they? What art subjects are they interested in? This will help you promote and craft your art workshop to meet your ideal client’s needs.

7.    What supplies do they need?
Most art workshops will come with a supply list so this is something you definitely need to think about when planning out your workshop. Do a run through of your painting ahead of time (you should be doing this anyway for practice) and keep a list of all the supplies you use as you go. Be specific on paint colors and tools too!

8.    How much will it cost?
We really can’t tell you what you should price your art workshops at. It all depends on how long the workshop is, how experienced the artists are, what’s involved in the workshop and how well known you are as an artist (are your workshops always booked?).

9.    How long will it be?
Coming up with a length of time for your art workshop can be tricky. You don’t want to rush things and confuse the artists but you also don’t want it to be long and drawn out either. If it’s a longer workshop, we suggest including a lunch (either provided or bring your own) to break up the day. Some art workshops may be a two or three day ordeal. To figure out the perfect length for your workshop, do a practice run preferably with a friend who has never done this project. Allow them to ask questions as you go and give their feedback so you know approximately how long your workshop will take.

10.    What specifically will they learn?
Before taking an art workshop, artists like to know specific skills and techniques they’ll be learning and exactly what they’ll be creating. Be sure to let the student know what they can expect when promoting your workshop.

11.    Do they need to bring in a reference photo?
Think about what your art students will be working from. Will you provide a reference photo? Will they need to bring one in of their own? Or will they be tracing a pre-printed outline onto their art paper? This is a question that we get asked all the time by artists taking an art workshop so take it into consideration when doing your planning.

12.    How far will you get?
Also have in mind a goal for your art workshop so you can stay on task. Will students be completing a few small paintings? A large one? Or will they be taking it home to finish it up with the skills they have learned? Of course every artist works at a different pace but it helps to have an idea before starting your art workshop.

13.    How often will you teach workshops?
Let’s say you asked yourself these 13 questions before teaching an art workshop and it ended up being a huge hit and you had so much fun doing it. Now it’s time to start planning your next one! It’s a great idea to plan to do them regularly because if students loved it, they’ll want to sign up right away for the next one. Determine how often you’d like to host art workshops and schedule in future workshops to teach.

We understand that these are a lot of things to keep in mind before starting an art workshop. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to figure out all the planning and don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t run perfectly. After each and every art workshop you should evaluate what went well and what you can improve on for next time. Even experienced art instructors do this! You will always be learning and improving but these 13 questions to ask yourself when teaching an art workshop will put you on the path to success.

How To Transition From Student To Instructor

Nicole Tinkham

Stepping outside your comfort zone (as a student) and becoming an instructor is a scary thing! But the best way to grow as an artist is to do something totally new. Just think about all the art instructors out there who must have started somewhere. They got started right where you’re at now. We bet that at some point in your art career, an art instructor changed everything for you. They opened your eyes to the creative possibilities and inspired you to do something incredible with your life. Now it’s time you paid it forward by teaching your own skills to others and help them before they make some of the mistakes you made when first starting out. Read on for how to find your niche, learning how to teach, understanding the various ways people learn, different ways to practice teaching a class before you actually do one, how to be in control of the class, and the perfect time to get started.

1.    Become knowledgeable in a specific area

It’s nice to dabble in a bunch of different areas and expand your skills. But when it comes to teaching others, it’s highly important that you know exactly what you’re doing and can answer any questions that come up (to the best of your ability, anyway). Pick an area that you’re passionate about, that you know a lot about, that you’ve been doing for awhile, and that you’ve learned and grown in.  You should feel the most confident in this area. If you’re unsure what that thing is for you, think about what you get the most compliments on. What techniques do artists continuously ask you how to do? Where do you feel your strongest abilities lie?

2.    Take a course on teaching

Just because you’re an expert in a certain area in the art world doesn’t mean you’re ready to go off teaching it just yet. Some of us were born teachers and can explain things well while others don’t naturally have that skill. Like anything, you can learn and grow as a teacher and that’s where books, videos, and classes come in. Taking speech classes may also help if you’re uncomfortable speaking in front of others.

3.    Understand the ways of learning

Everyone learns in their own unique way. Some people prefer to read instructions while others rather see it in action. Some people even learn best by actually doing it. Keep this in mind when structuring your art workshops and don’t become impatient with a student if they just aren’t getting it. Try a different method with them and see if it helps them pick it up.

4.    Practice makes perfect

When you’re doing something totally new and out of your comfort zone, remember that you will get better with time. All it takes is lots and lots of practice! To practice instructing your workshop, you can record yourself going through the class to see where you need to make improvements. You can also go through a trial run with your friends or just a small group and see what types of questions or confusion arises. Or you can just jump right into it and start your workshops with a full class. People are forgiving so no worries if you mess up! Just do your best and strive to get better each time.

5.    Get organized

Half the artists we talk to struggle with organization and the other half are very good at it. We’re all different and that’s ok! But when it comes to instructing workshops there has to be some level of organization. Plan out when each class will be, how long it will be, and exactly what will be accomplished in each one. With instructing, you have to lead in a step by step process so your students can easily understand the instructions. The key is to be very clear. Of course you’ll also want to be on time and do the things you say you’ll do. This will build trust with your students and they’ll want to come back for more.

6.    Don’t wait for perfection

So many people never try anything new because they’re afraid to start! There will never be the right timing and you will never be perfect. As we mentioned in #4, you will get better the more you do it. So just get started. If you don’t take the opportunity in front of you, it may never come around again. Now is the time to start!

Teaching art workshops isn’t for everyone so don’t feel pressured to transition from student to instructor. It doesn’t hurt to try it out and see if it’s for you though. You can always start small and work your way up to larger and more frequent classes. It really doesn’t have to be that scary! You will learn and improve as you go so don’t sweat a bad class if they come up. Remember to choose the topic you’re passionate about, get really good at teaching others, understand how they learn, never stop getting better, get yourself organized, and get started right away. You can do this!

Have you ever instructed an art class? If so, what advice would you give someone just starting out?