How Art Students Became My Teachers

Photo by Crista Cloutier. Copyright © Crista Cloutier. Used by permission of the artist.

When I was invited to spend five days in France with British art students, I didn’t know what to expect.

Most of us were strangers. The schedule was packed. The journey was arduous. The conditions were sometimes challenging.

But we came together. We laughed hard — a lot. We played hard. And yes, sometimes we fought hard too. But mostly we worked. We worked in ways that we were not used to working. We stretched our minds and felt our boundaries. We started in the morning and went into the wee hours of the night. We learned to trust one another.

The students were there because they had entered a creative entrepreneurship competition. And though they would be competing against the other students, you wouldn’t know it. They all came together in support of one another. They were generous with their time, attention and ideas.

But what struck me the most was when they shared their project ideas with the group, each student began by saying, “I want to help…”

Some wanted to help children, others wanted to help with climate change. None of their projects centered on themselves. They all began with a real desire to make a difference.

These students of mine taught me that our true work, always, is to give.

That’s what real artists do.

Crista Cloutier works internationally as an artist and writer. She is the founder of The Working Artist. Over the course of her career, Crista has collaborated with some of the most significant contemporary artists showing today. She is certified as a fine arts appraiser, has worked as a licensor, arts writer, gallerist, award-winning documentary filmmaker, fine-art publisher, and she has curated dozens of exhibitions. Crista has worked with artists whose careers range from blue-chip to just beginning. She knows firsthand how successful artists manage their careers and has witnessed where aspiring artists often stumble. Visit to find out more.