Professional Learning

Boost Your Ingenuity: 20 Creative Pursuits for Art Teachers

crafts on display

As summer break approaches, art teachers everywhere are getting ready to trade in their paintbrushes and pencils for some well-deserved sunshine and relaxation. But let’s face it, for some of the creatives among us, lounging on a beach all summer just won’t cut it. Fear not, because we’ve got some awesome summer ideas to keep your artistic juices flowing. So grab a cold drink, and let’s explore twenty creative pursuits!

Creative pursuits bring many benefits. Here are a few:

  • Keeps creativity flowing
  • Benefits the community
  • Hones strategic thinking
  • Promotes local business
  • Provides extra funds to fuel what brings you joy

ceramics work on table

1. Art Teacher

One of the best ways to stay engaged in your craft during the summer is to teach art classes. You can teach in your own studio, offer online classes, or even host classes at your local community center or library. Not only is teaching a great way to share your knowledge and passion for art, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity to network and meet other artists and families. In addition to classes, you can also offer private lessons to students who want to learn a specific medium or technique. Private lessons offer a more personalized approach to learning and can be a great way to connect with students one-on-one. Think about what type of classes or lessons you could create.

Here are some examples of classes to teach:

  • Graduate courses
  • Workshops
  • Paint nights
  • Medium-specific projects
  • Age group-specific classes
  • Themed classes
  • Museum workshops

student painting tree

2. Artist or Craftsperson

You probably have a pile of things you’ve created but don’t know what to do with them. Summer is a great time to take advantage of art fairs and festivals in your area. Set up a booth and sell your artwork, whether it’s paintings, prints, or sculptures. This is also a great way to get feedback on your work and connect with potential clients or other artists. If you can’t make it to an art fair or festival—don’t worry. You can sell your artwork online through websites like Etsy, Shopify, or a personal website. This is a great way to reach a wider audience from the comfort of your own home.

crafts on display

3. Illustrator

As an art teacher, you likely have a wealth of knowledge and talent when it comes to drawing and illustration. Consider offering your services as an illustrator. Create custom artwork for clients, such as book jacket designs, greeting cards, picture books, or textbooks. With social media and e-commerce platforms, it’s easier than ever to market your illustration skills and build a client base.

4. Graphic Designer

If you’re skilled in graphic design, consider freelancing during the summer. You can offer your design services to local businesses or work on design projects for clients online. This is a great opportunity to develop your digital skills.

5. Commissioned Artist

Consider creating custom artwork for clients, such as personalized portraits, wedding invitations, or custom home decor. You can advertise your services on social media or through word of mouth. Work on commissions while relaxing outside or in front of a show during your free time this summer.

pet portrait

6. Artist in Residence

Art residencies are programs that offer artists the opportunity to work on their craft in a new environment. Many residencies provide studio space, room, board, and sometimes stipends. This is a great way to explore new mediums and connect with other artists from around the world.

7. YouTuber

If you enjoy teaching and creating content, consider starting a YouTube channel. Share tutorials, speed paintings, and other art-related content. As your channel grows, you may be able to monetize your content and earn ad revenue. If anything, you can use the digital content in your curriculum for a flipped classroom experience.

youtube channel

8. Home Stager or Decorator

Art teachers have an eye for design, color, and composition. These are all key elements of home staging and interior decorating. You can offer your services to help clients spruce up their homes or stage their properties for sale. Whether selecting furniture, arranging artwork, or adding some finishing touches, your artistic skills can help transform a space into a work of art.

9. House Painter

Summer is the perfect time for house painting. Your expertise in color theory and painting techniques can make you a valuable asset to homeowners looking to freshen up their exteriors or interiors. Work on your own or team up with others to tackle larger projects.

room being painted

10. Photographer

If you have a passion for photography, consider offering photo sessions. You can specialize in portraits, event photography, or even stock photography. With the rise of social media and the need for high-quality images, there’s never been a better time to refine your photography skills.

11. Teacher Coach

If you are a veteran art teacher, offer coaching services to new or struggling teachers. This can include help with lesson planning, classroom management, or organizing and ordering art supplies. With your experience and knowledge, you can help others succeed in the upcoming year.

12. Online Teacher Resource Seller

With the rise of online learning, there’s a growing demand for digital resources for teachers. Use your expertise to create and sell lesson plans, classroom activities, or other teaching materials online. With platforms like Teachers Pay Teachers, you can reach a global audience and earn passive income all year round.

13. Art Museum Instructor or Docent

Working at an art museum is a great opportunity for professional development and inspiration. Noel LaPointe, a secondary art teacher, worked at an art museum on Saturdays. The prep was minimal because students brought their own supplies!

museum exterior

14. Art Kit Maker

If you’re knowledgeable about art supplies, consider selling them online or creating DIY art kits. Curate kits around specific mediums or the perfect amount of supplies for a specific project. Then, market them to students or hobbyists who want to learn something new.

15. Public Installation Artist

Summer is a great time to get involved in community projects and create public art installations. Work with local organizations or government agencies to design and create murals, sculptures, or other public art pieces to reflect the community.

16. Furniture Flipper

Art teachers are no strangers to DIY projects. Furniture flipping is a fun and lucrative way to put those skills to use. Scour thrift stores, garage sales, or online marketplaces for inexpensive furniture. Give them a new life with a fresh coat of paint, some creative touches, or even some decoupage. Sell your finished pieces online or at local markets, all while enjoying the satisfaction of turning trash into treasure.

17. Watercolor Portrait Painter

Watercolor is a great medium to create custom portraits for others. Heather Lynn, an art teacher in Ohio, creates custom watercolors of people’s homes. Whatever subject matter you enjoy painting, there is a customer who will appreciate your work!

house portrait

18. Event Planner

Combining an eye for balance and art with the ability to manage chaos makes many art teachers adept at event planning. If art teachers can pull off a big art show at the end of the year, we can pull off any event! Heather Millick, a middle school art teacher, plans weddings. Decorating, setting the space, and making sure everything looks just right is a special talent at which art teachers excel.

wedding venue with couple dancing

19. Face Painter

Face paint is inexpensive, easy to obtain, and quick to learn. Set up shop at a local pool, library, park, or event. Check out a few tutorials online and test some looks on yourself. Make sure to gain permission before setting up somewhere. Put out a tip jar or charge a specific amount for each face you paint. Consider marketing online to face paint at a birthday party or community festival.

Keep your setup simple with the following supplies:

  • Paint palette
  • Round and flat brush
  • Makeup sponges
  • Opalescent white glitter (optional)
  • Water cup
  • Paper towels
  • Baby wipes
  • Trash bags
  • Mirror

20. Muralist

Painting a mural can be a big undertaking. However, the summer months are the perfect time to paint a mural in someone’s home or in a local business. Check out the Mural Painting Pack in PRO Learning for information and resources to get started.

Well, there you have it, folks! A variety of ideas to help art teachers turn a passion into a pursuit during the summer months. Whether you decide to teach or create, there’s no reason you can’t make the most of your creativity and talents. Your time and skills are valuable, so don’t sell yourself short. Learn how to be strategic doing what you already love to do with the Creative Pursuits, Side Hustles, and Business Smarts course. You never know where your passions and pursuits for art will take you, but one thing is for sure, it will be a colorful journey.

If you have a creative pursuit, what is it?

How can a creative pursuit make you a better art teacher?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Rebekah Hower

Rebekah Hower, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about creating an engaging and relevant environment for students to discover and experiment.

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