Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Contemplating Art Retreat Teaching Applications

It's always an issue when applying to teach at art retreats ....... charging for kit fees and creating a supply list. There are two sides to these issue and I've been on both of them.

Many teachers have supply lists a mile long and they are daunting when you look at them as a student. Some of the supplies can be costly and then there is the problem of packing everything to bring, especially when flying these days since some airlines charge so much for baggage! When there are a ton of expensive items one must consider the investment of them and is it something they will use? If you take a mixed media painting class and decide you suck at it but you have $80.00 invested in the supplies then you have to be prepared to eat that cost and donate the supplies or store them indefinitely in hope that one day you will use them.

Some students complain about instructors charging kit fees. I know my kit fees are usually the highest but that's only because I am buying silks to dye which cost. I don't make a profit off the kit fees. I figure my cost, which is the lowest since I have wholesale accounts, not at a retail value. I don't charge for the dye involved or the equipment I invest in to bring. I have to have microwaves to heat set the dye in. Lining up microwaves and garments racks for vendor day is stressful for me if I'm flying to a retreat so I attend those I can drive to. I just load the car with all I need and away I go down the highway. I am hoping that students understand why I charge the kit fee and that they understand they are getting a good deal. Another pro for the kit fee is that students don't have to order the silks and bring it with them. I hope they understand I can't afford to buy everyone the silk, so I charge for it.

I try to keep my supply list at the least amount of items I can. I understand about having to pack a mountain of supplies, I'm a student many times myself. But think if the teacher has to bring everything?!! It would be cost prohibitive to teach. Well it depends on what you're teaching and what it entails.

I took an art class with Kelly Kilmer years ago, before 911, when she could travel with a suitcase full of paints, and markers, and gel mediums and it was freeing for the student to just show up and get to experiment with all those goodies in the techniques she was teaching. But now it's hard to travel on an airplane with some of these items, let alone bringing a whole suitcase which you would be charged extra for after a lengthy inspection. Some items have to be shipped ahead of time, more cost. I sure hope students think about these issues and realize why kits fees are necessary and why they are asked to bring supplies instead of everything being supplied for them.

This is what my car looks like after it's packed with stuff to take to teach at an art retreat.

So now I'm filling out the applications and really paying attention to these issues.

For all retreat goers and instructors who are reading this I'd like to know your thoughts on this subject!


Cindy Swan-Eagan said...

I don't mind kit fees at all - in fact I wish that the teacher would supply everything for the class and charge me what it costs. Then, I don't have to worry a bit about how I'm going to get my supplies there, or what I'll do with the leftovers. Yes, classes are expensive. But then again, I only take classes from teachers whom I am sure "know their stuff." So, I expect them to be expensive!! It's a treat to work with experienced, wonderful teachers like yourself! Thanks!

Angie Platten said...

You bring up good points. I don't make money on kit fees either. I try to keep them as low as possible often using my own personal stash of things for supplies for classes. Plus, I prep things as much as possible to save time in class! I am trying to provide more and more of the supplies students need to reduce their list but, so far, I have only taught locally so I've not dealt with the travel issues. However, since I have now submitted to teach out of state, I am trying to make all my classes along the same line of mediums so I'm not taking completely different supplies for each class. It's truly so much to think about! Then, if you vend, that's a whole other ball game!
Hey, do you need a microwave for AU? I have an extra and wanted to know if you need it before I find another home for it. It's not terribly big though. Seems I remember you needing one that was at least 15 inches from corner to corner... or something like that. maybe it was just for that class? Let me know. Can't wait to see you!

Joanne Huffman said...

I am very pro kits. I hate lugging stuff to and from retreats. I put together a kit for my class and found I undercharged, but I feel that's a learning fee for me. See you next week!

Long Black Eyelahes said...

The kit fee was fine! I know you have to pay for it, and it being silk, it cant be cheap! I loved everything about the class, and felt you and Jennifer really cared about me getting it, and I did, I went on and on to Linda how much I loved your class and to please bring you back next year! Angelica

martha brown said...

I don't mind kit fees at all. I hate tracking down, buying and then carrying a pile of stuff and then using the tool once for 30 seconds or perhaps not at all..... (that's why I encourage teachers to say kit fees include "use of" teachers tools)