Bass Arts Studio: Support your creativity!
Located on Park Street in Montclair, N.J., Bass Arts Studio offers a variety of art and fashion classes during the year in addition to a summer camp for children of all ages. With their mission being to “recognize, affirm and support a child’s emerging individuality, and help strengthen a child’s sense of self through art-making,” they have had great success.
The lovely, and exceptionally talented artist, Fern Bass opened up Bass Arts Studio in 2005. For 15 years, Bass worked as a graphic designer in various publications like The New York Times, Self Magazine and Fairchild Publications. She also did editorial fashion for a while, worked in promotions as a graphic designer, was an art director and a painter.
Two years before she opened the studio, she was working at what was once Nandi School of Art, in Montclair N.J. Bass had never taught before working there but quickly began to realize that she loved it. “I loved teaching art to kids and making it up as I went along. I loved coming up with ideas for them,” said Bass. After a couple years, she decided to convert her three-car garage into an art studio, named after her.
“I was always kind of trolling around for new ideas and I thought, ‘Wow, fashion, why don’t we do fashion illustration?’ I put an ad in Craigslist for a fashion instructor and found Rob Younkers who started the fashion program,” said Bass. She hired Younkers to teach fashion and then decided to create a fashion camp. “We had a stampede of enrollment because at the time, all of these kids were watching Project Runway.”
Bass offers a variety of fashion classes that cater to specific age groups. Right now, the classes focus on sewing and pattern making. Bass makes sure her students always come up with their own vision and draw a sketch first.
“My older ones are making more serious garments,” said Bass. Her biggest group is in the class “Young Fashion Designers” for ages 8 to 11. She also has a “Fashion Sewing” class, which is a bit more advanced, for ages 11-15.
Just this year, she started a class called “Young Fashionistas” for children between ages 6 and 7. They aren’t working on the machines yet but they’re creating t-shirts, headpieces and hand sewing. “It’s kind of funky but not perfect,” said Bass. “They get to pick the colors out and decide what designs they want to do. They can pretty much go shopping for any kind of fabric and it’s giving them excitement.”
Her classes are a 10-12 week program, so every week her students come in and learn things like how to put in a zipper, and how to make a seam. “We start them young, and they’re learning the craft so nothing is perfect but that doesn’t matter,” said Bass. “What matters is that it comes from them. That is the thing that makes me happy.”
She also teaches flat pattern making, which allows them to take their vision and make it real. “That to me is exciting because we’re supporting the child’s individuality. We really are saying, ‘hey, your vision is important and this is great,’ and I love that,” said Bass.
At the end of every session, Bass has a fashion show for her students where fashion professionals will come in to sit at the show and give the kids their feedback. “It’s like Project Runway, but nobody cries and nobody is out. Its very supportive,” said Bass.
At these fashion shows, the kids will walk the runway and then state their name, their age and whatever their inspiration for the garment they made was. “What I love about the fashion shows is that we are teaching the kids to get up and talk in a crowd which can be terrifying. Its great for them, and it’s great for their self-esteem,” said Bass.
During the fashion summer camp, Bass’ students spend a week on creating mood boards and learning how to draw croquis, as well as coming up with collections and understating what their audience is, and who are they designing for.
“I see myself in these kids because I used to always want to make stuff and I know how exciting it is to do this and to have it be supported, so the child in me is right there with them. It’s about their vision and inspiration. As they get older, the craft will improve,” said Bass. To find more about the fashion program that Bass Arts Studio offers, visit their website, www.bassartsstudio.com.