by Clara Lieu
We are pleased to announce that artprof.org is now LIVE!!! After all the blood, sweat and tears of the past 3 years I am in complete disbelief that we actually made it this far. What started as a 1 paragraph blog post is now a full fledged, online educational platform for visual arts.
Thank you to our Kickstarter supporters, to the artists who granted us permission to feature their artwork, to the professionals who were willing to give a complete stranger advice on how to get started 3 years ago, to those of you who trudged through a snowstorm so I could film footage, to the artists who participated in our monthly Art Dares, to the many artists and teachers who did many rounds of usability testing on the site, to the art teachers on Facebook who I have never met but who were more than happy to help in so many ways, to the artists who allowed us to critique their artwork, to our followers who have watched us grow, to my family, friends, and colleagues who provided unwavering support and advice, to all of you who BELIEVED in Art Prof early on, cheered us on with your enthusiasm, and many more.
My brain is complete mush from working around the clock for the past few weeks, so I am sure there are other groups of people who helped who I am missing, but please know that I so deeply appreciate every shred of support mattered, every single contribution made a difference. Launching a major platform like this is no small feat, and it’s one that truly takes a village. Art Prof would never have happened without you!
Thank you to my 2 groups of pre-college students, who provided ongoing, essential feedback on the project and website, who made me feel old and out of date, who explained to me how to use Snapchat, told me the secrets of using Instagram, who boosted me with their constant enthusiasm and energy, to the point that they would jump on board for tasks that hadn’t even been announced yet. (that’s when I tacked on running through the hallways of their high school naked to their task list. Hey, they asked for it!)
Thank you to our summer 2016 interns, who put up with my meandering, spontaneous, random ideas, and who were willing to experiment and do (and come up with) odd tasks like run through sprinklers, swing from trees, jump into a lake with “Art Prof” written on their bare back, bake a cake with my face on it, construct a cardboard head of me that is traumatizing my children as it sits in my living room, design the most entertaining Prof fan art I’ve ever seen, and much more. Thank you to Janice Chun and Olivia Hunter, who provided indispensable support from in production assistance, video editing, designing, and much more.
There are no words to express my immense gratitude to our extraordinary Teaching Assistants: Casey Roonan, Lauryn Welch, Yves-Olivier Mandereau, Annie Irwin, Deepti Menon, and Alex Rowe, who had no idea what they were getting into when they said “yes” to an ambiguous email I sent to them way back in 2015. Their outstanding tenacity, perseverance, endless energy, enthusiasm was absolutely critical to the creation of Art Prof. I am the luckiest person in the world to have a dream team like this as my staff, and I am forever grateful to them for their unconditional faith in Art Prof. They were the part of the primordial soup of Art Prof, and were nuts enough to jump off the biggest cliff I’ve ever climbed with me. Thank you TAs, Art Prof would not be here without you. I am not someone who cries at movies, but thinking about you, TAs, and what you have accomplished, I’m getting choked up.
Cheers to my amazing partner Thomas Lerra, for believing in my vision way back in March 2015, when a random art professor who pushed their way through 4 degrees of separation that took 4 months, to worm their way into your path. For your fundamental belief in our mission, and sticking with me, even in the most trying situations. Tom walked the plank for Art Prof in a way that most people wouldn’t even dare think of. He was my rock, keeping a level head through thick and thin, through every challenge when we were blocked by numerous obstacles, and banging our heads against the wall with frustration. I’m still astounded that I found Tom, it’s very rare that you find someone who is willing to invest so much into an artist’s vision.
Lastly, the person who really, truly made Art Prof happen is my husband Alex Hart. Without Alex, there would literally be no Art Prof. Let’s put it this way: if Alex sent me an invoice for the colossal numbers of hours he willingly put into Art Prof over the past 3 years, I’m sure it would be at least 7 figures. (this is not counting a bill for emotional support and daily therapy) It’s one thing to have a vision and mission, it’s another thing to actually make it happen and turn it into a tangible product, and Alex was the one who facilitated the execution of Art Prof. His comprehensive skills in video, sound, graphic design, and much more were what made Art Prof into a concrete, usable platform.
Alex was literally always there, behind the scenes doing all of the invisible technical work that most people never saw, or were even aware of. He did every conceivable task: everything from the most mundane to the most technically challenging. He made coffee for the TAs when they stayed at my house for filming, researched every single piece of equipment we purchased, gave me tutorials on how to properly use tripods and equipment, dealt with multiple panicked phone calls from me in the middle of the work day, spent many long, tedious hours glued to headphones and a computer doing the sound mixes, cared for our kids on more weekends than I can count, put up with me when I was super grouchy and sleep deprived, and much more. All of that, with no complaints. (well, okay 99% of the time) Most importantly, through all of that, Alex kept telling me that he believed in me.
Thank you everyone, I am so grateful to all of you for making my dream come true!!
ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to art education for people of all ages and means.