Five Questions with ArtWorks Alumna, Braylyn Bell

Braylyn Bell, an Apprentice alumna, shares about her experience as an Apprentice. ArtWorks is currently hiring creative youth (ages 14-21) for 2017 summer and fall positions. Click here to apply by March 3.


How many years have you been an apprentice with ArtWorks?

I have been an Apprentice with ArtWorks for three years.


What projects have you worked on? Which project(s) stand out the most to you?

I have worked on about five murals. My first mural was “Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon”. The following year I worked on the James Brown “Mr. Dynamite” mural in the summer and the Elizabeth Nourse “Self Portrait” mural in the fall. This past summer, the mural I worked on was “Little Nemo in Slumberland” by Winsor McCay. Also, this fall I helped out a little on “Rise”, the Rhinegeist Brewery mural.

Every project I worked on has its own special reason why it was amazing. “Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon” stands out to me because it was my very first job, mural, and the first time I’ve ever really painted. “Mr. Dynamite” was really fun because it was such a challenge working with geometric shapes. Elizabeth Nourse’s “Self Portrait” was my first fall mural. Even though it was cold, our team was small and really close! Winsor McCay’s was amazing because the texture of the wall and painting techniques were challenging and taught me a lot. Also, I had the same Project Manager I had on my first mural! It can’t get any better than that right!


What’s your favorite thing about working with ArtWorks?

ArtWorks gives teenagers a creative outlet and reassures them that art matters and they matter. Yes, my peers and I might be young, but our art is not unimportant. For some teens I worked with, art is their life. It’s what fuels their ambitions.

My favorite thing is seeing how art impacts people’s lives, and not just the lives of the apprentices. Hero Design Company is a program of ArtWorks that pairs apprentices with children facing physical or situational hardships and they co-create superhero capes. ArtWorks uses art to enliven and encourage not only youth and children, but our community!


What have you learned about Cincinnati, yourself and/or the art community?

I moved to Cincinnati when I was five years old and I never really cared for the city and didn’t understand why anyone would want to live here because it was cold and foreign. When I started at ArtWorks, I was exposed to a whole side of Cincinnati that I never knew existed. Cincinnati was alive! There were so many people who loved art like I did!

When we made a mural, people from all over would stop by and admire our work and we would learn so much from the stories they told. I was inspired!  I have met so many people from all walks of life and varying ages who have told us that we have brightened their day and the city with this art. I heard many stories of people who had personal connections to some aspect of the mural. Sometimes they knew James Brown, or they used to work in the building where we were painting. Another thing I would hear was that they studied art in school, but didn’t pursue it because they were told it wasn’t a realistic dream. Seeing us painting allowed them to experience art vicariously through us! I never imagined I would hear things like that, especially considering I didn’t like Cincinnati when I first moved here, but Cincinnati is alive and thriving.

The appreciation I now have for my city is owed to ArtWorks.


As an ArtWorks alumna, what words of encouragement would you offer to a potential youth apprentice who is applying?

As an ArtWorks alumna, I would tell any future youth apprentices thinking about applying to just go for it! Senior year my art teacher told me about ArtWorks and I was nervous about applying.  I didn’t think I would be good enough, but I knew I was. I always thought doing art was just a thing, a hobby, nothing to be pursued seriously. But I forced myself to apply, just to try. I was nervous and felt discouraged seeing all of those other teens waiting for their interviews, just knowing I wouldn’t get hired. But I was hired! ArtWorks and my fellow apprentices encouraged and inspired me every day.

I would say to have confidence in yourself and in your art and just go for it and see where it takes you. Trust in your abilities!