Our Big Idea: Get Art, Give Back and How IPaintMyMind Turns Art Into Impact - Our Big Idea: Get Art, Give Back and How IPaintMyMind Turns Art Into Impact -
Our Big Idea: Get Art, Give Back and How IPaintMyMind Turns Art Into Impact

Our Big Idea: Get Art, Give Back and How IPaintMyMind Turns Art Into Impact

Written by:
Lillie Therieau
Feb 15, 2021

Here at IPaintMyMind, we have a pretty unique model. It’s self-sustaining, and if rendered artistically, makes an absolutely perfect wheel. We call it the Wheel of Impact, and it illustrates the way that our services create a feedback loop where art and action create social change. Our big idea is that by sourcing art and creating programs that give back to our communities, we can turn art into impact. 

The Wheel of Impact shows how we give back at IPMM.

Our Heroes Are Our Artists 

Our organization started in 2009 as a blog and a virtual space to celebrate working artists. Our founder, Evan La Ruffa, is an artist himself, and has prioritized artists since Day 1. This brings us to the first of three problems which IPaintMyMind sets out to address. Artists don’t get paid or supported enough. Too many artists have to have other jobs to support themselves, and relegate art to a side hustle. Oftentimes, artists are exploited and taken advantage of, not paid upfront or for what they are worth. 

Yet artists fulfill one of the most important roles in our communities. They bring us together, tell our stories, and inspire us. At IPMM, we do our best to treat artists with the respect and dignity that they deserve. We buy prints from new artists at their rates, never asking for anything for free. We celebrate them on our blog and social media, and get to know them through interviews and workshops. We also feature their work in our Shared Walls™ program and through art rentals to businesses. If we get an art consulting call, or are asked to commission a mural, we reach out to our pool of partner artists. If our artists succeed, so do we. 

We maintain relationships with each artist, publicizing upcoming shows or drops. We cultivate a community of artists, putting them in contact with each other and with new potential clients. We want to be that support system that is so hard to come by in the often solitary experience of working as an artist. 


Renting Art And Giving Back: How Offices Can Turn A Subscription For Art Into Impact

Since 2013, we’ve been working with businesses across the city and the Midwest, helping them brighten their space with incredible art. We rent out pieces of our Permanent Collection to them for a fee, which we put right back into our art programming. 

Here we come to our second problem, too many businesses rely on token ways of giving back. We wanted to combat the tired-out perception of corporate giving and philanthropy and introduce a new and exciting way to invest in the local community. Our art rental program is just that, a way to give back effectively and make any office space look great while doing so. 

We work with each business to find the perfect art for each space. We curate a collection of fantastic pieces and hang them ourselves. Each rental period lasts for a year, with an option to extend your current collection or swap it out for new and fresh pieces next year! 

The cost of renting art goes right back into our art programming in underserved Chicago Public Schools and community hubs. We use the momentum accumulated by our art rental project to keep our Shared Walls program going and growing, literally turning art into impact. Giving has never looked so good!

We also work with clients to create custom murals for offices, and we have more traditional philanthropic programs like our Sponsor A School Initiative which pairs local companies’ charitable giving departments with a local underfunded school to fundraise and volunteer to ensure that school has art programs for the coming years.

Arts Education Is For All Of Us 

Finally, we come to our third and final problem that IPMM sets out to address: community leaders, schools, and parents don’t have the resources that they need and deserve. In Chicago, as in most major metropolitan areas, the public schools system is dramatically underfunded. This problem has been accumulating for decades, and kids are always the ones on the losing end. 

This chronic underfunding is particularly evident in the realm of arts education. It is often the last priority, and receives the least money, if it is funded at all. IPaintMyMind sets out to combat the attack on art education. Through our Shared Walls program, we bring an Art Gallery of 12-20 prints to each partner school, as well as a robust Art Guide curriculum, and artist workshops. We provide these resources to CPS teachers and administrators free for the first year, and help them find creative funding avenues for further years.

Our programming is flexible and customizable, perfect for a diverse range of classrooms, learners, and time lines. We understand that art education looks different at each school and in each classroom, but we passionately believe that it needs to be there for every single student. High quality art education leads to creative problem solvers, better communicators, and well-rounded students that are willing to listen. 

The Wheel Keeps Turning; Turning Art Into Impact

Our big idea is so special because it is sustainable. Our four heroes: teachers, artists, clients, and supporters all pitch in to fuel our mission and keep us going. We are able to circumvent many issues commonly faced by small and mid-sized nonprofits through our unique impact model. 

And, more importantly, we create a symbiotic network of aid and action. Everyone involved with us is responsible for the success and uplifting of others. It’s an endlessly inspiring organization, because it’s not really about us. It’s about the amazing folks that we work with, who turn art into impact and social change everyday. 

If you are inspired by our model and mission, consider volunteering or donating to IPaintMyMind. 

16 free lesson planning resources

Written by:
Lillie Therieau
Feb 15, 2021