Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Taggart.
Mary, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was always interested in art and began taking art lessons at the suggestion of my first grade teacher, I continued to draw and paint and eventually decided to attend Mass College of Art where I received my BFA. I taught for several years before leaving and pursuing other endeavors for a number of years. Eventually my desire to create art led me back to painting when I discovered that my childhood art teacher was holding classes literally around the corner- a very serendipitous occurrence! Around the same time my daughter volunteered me to paint sets for a local theater company. After doing this for a several productions I decided that I could paint murals. With no business experience, I went into a local restaurant was set to open and told them I could do their murals. Unbelievably, they hired me! Customers of the restaurant saw my work and wanted artwork on their walls so that led to the creation of my mural business, The Painted Effect. It was quite successful for a number of years and along the way I established good relationships with my clients. These clients would often ask if would give lessons but I was too busy and really didn’t have a space. Then, a friend decided to move her floral business and asked me if I’d like to rent the space since it was ideal for an art studio. I initially declined as I was hesitant to commit to the expense not knowing where to find the students. But when I passed by one day and thought it had been, rented I was so upset that I knew I had to give it a try. It’s that thing that you have to ask yourself- how will I feel if I don’t try? So, I went to the landlord that day, found out it was still available and took the space. Then, I sent an introductory email to those mural clients and they brought their children and their children’s friends! Referrals happened as in the mural business and classes began to grow. An interior designer that I had collaborated with helped me with a website and TaggArt Studio was established.
As an artist I decided to head back to school myself and began seriously studying painting at Mass Art. The studio was busy with enough students and I was able to really concentrate on my own work as well.
I continue to offer classes for children and adults but I build in studio time for myself. I enjoy the classes and I have built in time for my personal painting which is very important to me. I feel I’ve struck a good balance.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Things have been fairly smooth for the studio- of course I’ve had some ups and downs but nothing too overwhelming. I was initially hesitant to take on the expense of a studio- prior to taking the space I had been working out of my home. It was a leap of faith to commit to the space, not knowing what kind of enrollment I would get. Now, my biggest challenge is finding new students. Even though I have a wonderful retention rate, students age out as well as move on to other activities. This also happens in my adult groups – lives change, schedules change and people move on. But out of this challenge comes opportunity- in order to meet new students and expand my base I decided to hold different types of workshops and special events such as my “Girls’ Night Out”. Women can come together for a fun night and make a unique project such as a piece of jewelry, a floral arrangement etc… I also go into the community to teach special programs and have been a guest artist at several local art associations.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with TaggArt Studio – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
TaggArt Studio is a teaching space where I also create personal artwork. I take a somewhat more traditional or classical approach to my teaching in that I teach art fundamentals. As a trained artist myself, I know how important these basics are to create good art.
In the classes, we are constantly working on composition, color, value, shape and line. These essentials can never be over-emphasized as all artists work on them their entire lives. We draw and paint, using a variety of materials but always giving attention to those concepts. The classes are fun and inclusive and suitable for all levels of experience as each participant can interpret the project in his or her own way. I begin each children’s class with a book that connects to that days’ lesson. The children relax and begin to visualize their response. I believe that I have created a kind, nonjudgmental and supportive environment where all children feel welcomed. The students return again and again with many telling me it’s their favorite activity. I take great joy in watching them create and seeing their joy in the process.
The adult classes are run in a similar way with the focus on fundamentals. There is a range of experience in my adults groups- some are absolute beginners while others have been at it for a while. I believe we can all be creative but we need to have the tools and put in the time. I usually ask the adults to commit to 4-6 weeks rather that a weekly drop in for that reason. No matter where one is in their creative life, there is always so much more to learn. I see that everyday in my own work.
I believe that what sets me apart is the relationships that develop between myself and my students and between the students. Many of my students have stayed with me through high school and some have even gone on to art school. I have tried to create a space where all feel welcome and kindness rules.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I enjoy a lighter schedule in the summer, but I’m looking forward to resuming weekly classes. I have ideas for some new classes and workshops, such as a drawing class, a mandala workshop and a fall Girls’ Night Out featuring an autumn floral. I am looking forward to the classes that I will be doing outside of the studio as well- its way to expand my network and stay fresh!
- A typical Children’s Class: 8 week session, 75 minute class, 210.
- Address: TaggArt Studio
339 Salem Street,
Wakefield, MA 01880
- Website: www.mctpaint.com
- Phone: 781-626-0646
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: mctpaint
- Facebook: taggart studio