We recently welcomed an exciting range of arts & crafts boxes from LoLA (Lots of Lovely Art) to our collection, which we are already coveting. Created by artists and sisters-in-law Alara Hindle and Selina Swayne, these beautiful sets contain everything you need to get young children inspired by the arts. Each box offers a variety of artistic activities inspired by some of the world’s most renowned artists such as Picasso, Dali, Basquiat and more. We caught up with Alara and Selina to find out more about LoLA, the importance of art for children and how to inspire creativity.
What did you do before starting LoLA?
Alara began the first Lola in Istanbul - a physical creative space for families. It held art workshops for children from 18 months to teenagers, with a library of over 4,000 books, a cafe for parents and a shop selling art materials and design products. Selina had been a freelance graphic designer for over a decade in studios big and small around London.
How did the idea for LoLA come about?
The slow decline of the arts in education was upsetting both of us. Four years ago, when Alara moved back to the UK, as sisters-in-law we began discussing creativity with children, and soon were brainstorming on how to encourage art at home with families.
“Why don’t we try to box up your brain?!” Selina said. So that’s what we did! Alara’s creative ideas and teaching boxed into a beautiful package, with the aim of making it easy for parents to support creativity at home with their children.
What are the benefits of children taking part in art?
We absolutely believe that process-based, artist-inspired experiences are an important way for children to develop analytical thinking, self-confidence and to have fun!
Two-thirds of primary schools in England receive less art education now than they did a decade ago. That says a lot about our society today… and a lot about the society we are to become.
Art matters. We are enriched not only by appreciating the work of others, but also by creating art for ourselves. By painting, writing, playing music, etc. And we all know it – we know the thrill we get from looking at a portrait by Picasso, a landscape by Turner, or a mural by Banksy. We know the thrill young kids get from painting a monster, or creating with clay. You just have to watch their excitement when they show their mums their work!
Any tips for encouraging creativity in younger toddlers?
It’s actually quite easy - if you give a child easy access to the materials, allow them the space and ability to get messy, children are inherently creative! Pile rubbish and cardboard in front of a child and give them a few rolls of tape, and just watch what they do with it!
We recommend being consistent and having art materials accessible is key. - a little on a regular basis helps them explore materials and develop confidence.
We are also strong believers in museums and galleries! Making this part of a child’s “normal” life broadens their horizons. The more they see, the better. This can be in books too, which is why in each box we recommend many theme-related books.
Here are also some tips we have for little ones:
- Strip children down before you start, or have an outfit that is their ‘art outfit’. A table cloth that you can reuse each time is also useful.
- Allow them to experiment with materials. Don’t be too concerned about producing a single final piece.
- Bring out one material at a time – this makes it less overwhelming, and lengthens the process!
- You can often use surprisingly simple materials to work with, like shaving cream, toothbrushes, kitchen brushes, toy cars … all things that you may well have at home.
- Get them involved in the clean-up – seeing the paint colours run off the paint-brushes in the water is all part of the fun!
- Have a surface with some newspaper laid out ready for your ‘finished’ pieces to dry.
- We also recommend having a place to hang your pieces up, whether it be on the fridge or on a dedicated wall -having something on show builds your little ones’ self-confidence.
What children’s art basics should I keep at home?
Good art materials for children are a KEY part of what we believe in at LoLA. A set of water-paints, acrylic paints, paint sticks, brushes of different sizes (adult brushes are much better quality and will last longer), some oil pastels, scissors and glue.
It’s really important that these are easily accessible to children so you may want to “edit” what you have in the art cart depending on the day - switching around what they can experiment with also keeps them on their toes!
Which is your favourite LoLA box in the collection?
We LOVE Awesome Animals because there are some really inspiring artists to look at, as well as lots of fun and varied projects. From Picasso-inspired chickens and Tracey English-inspired collage cats, to recycled cardboard bugs and painted butterflies! We do have a soft spot for acrylic paints and there is a great set in this box too!
What advice would you give someone thinking about setting up their own business?
As creatives we tend to underestimate how commercial or business-minded we can actually be! We spent a lot of time in the beginning saying how little we knew and understood, only to realise we had underestimated our own knowledge and abilities, and our gut instinct on what would be best for our business. There are things we have been learning along the way, of course, but it has actually felt very instinctive. We have also been lucky to have found a brilliant lawyer, accountant and many very business minded friends and family members who help and support us a lot!
What’s next for LoLA?
We are hoping to take over the world of children’s parties! Watch this space for artist-inspired pARTy activities (a portrait painting party inspired by Picasso for example!), as well as creative pARTy bags, and invite and thank you note sets.