MAKE MORE BAD ART! Fearlessness and Confidence-building at Odyssey Teen Camp

Camp counselor superimposed on colorful collage background

This next post comes to you from one of our devoted staff members, Schu! She has been coming to camp for the past four years and now writes about her favorite intensive to teach: Fearless Art-Making—also known as MAKE MORE BAD ART!

Shu’s story

The first time I picked up a marker, I was not afraid to use it. I probably used it like all courageous and curious toddlers; drawing on my face, the table, swirling circles around on construction paper until it ripped a hole. Laughing until fat tears were rolling down my chubby cheeks. Fearlessly, I made bad art.

So what happened to that little marker monster? Well, she got funneled through school and society that taught her to draw inside the lines, don’t make a mess, be a perfectionist, and “Oh, that’s not what the assignment was, so I have to give you a C.” But you know what? I’m over being a perfectionist. I am done thinking that my art is not good enough. ‘No more, I say! ‘Have no fear, I chant! I am here to MAKE MORE BAD ART.

What is bad art?

What does it mean to be a bad artist? I like to say that bad art is a state of mind, an operating system, a way of life. To make bad art is to rebel against all the conditioning and expectations that society placed on us. It is the creative expression of nonconformity. To take it a step further- being a self-proclaimed Bad Artist means that I fearlessly accept my art as it is, celebrate the process, and acknowledge that when I make bad art, I am immersed in a special form of self-love.

I know that it can be totally terrifying to do anything creative. There’s nothing more harrowing than staring at a blank canvas. But that’s why, in my classes and intensives at Odyssey Teen Camp, we face that fear head-on. Through meditations, discussions, and using the abundance of materials and mediums at the Art Hut, we practice fearlessness, self-love, and creative expression! My classes, whether it’s blindfolded drawing, trash art, zine-mania, finger-painting, or collaging, are grounded in the practice of MAKING MORE BAD ART.

Let’s make a mess, and let’s make it BIG

Let’s work tirelessly on a drawing for 20 minutes and then cut it up and make it into a collage. Let’s defy color theory and rules and mix all the paints together. Never is it solely about the final product, and always is it about having fun, experimenting, and practicing acceptance. Everyone gets an A+++ because everyone is a fantastic artist in my classes. A fantastic BAD ARTIST.

The best part is, once in a while, after making a pile of really bad art, you’ll make a piece and say, “huh, not bad.” That happens every day at the Art Hut at OTC. Campers and counselors will surprise themselves with a piece that gets their blood pumping, their smile smiling, and their love for art-making expanding. It all starts with fearlessly making more bad art. There’s no better place to practice fearless art-making than OTC. Trust me, I’m an expert in bad art.

Adam Simon, Odyssey Teen Camp Director

Adam Simon

I'm Adam Simon. I started teen camp eighteen years ago with the vision of creating a space where teenagers would know they are safe from bullying or negative judgments and would feel free to show who they really are and to become their best selves. Let's connect, discuss, and engage...
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Find Out About Odyssey Teen Camp

A Non-Profit Overnight Summer Camp For Teens Ages 13-18
Located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.