Artzillions: SME Excellence Business Award & Aspiring Woman Entrepreneurs Award 2021/2022
The pragmatic nature of most Singaporeans is such that art, considered a lofty and noble pursuit in other countries, tends to be cast aside in favour of STEM or business-related subjects. This attitude extends to many parents who do not see the value in encouraging their children to hone their artistic talents – yes, art can stir the soul, but if it cannot improve a child’s grades as tuition can, then what is the point?
But art has its benefits beyond the aesthetical. It can boost creativity, hone logical and abstract thinking, and improve mental health with its therapeutic qualities. It can also serve as a window into other fields of study, since the artist needs to fully understand their subject – whether it be nature, technology or cultural artefacts – before they can shape it to their liking.
This multidisciplinary approach to art is exactly what Artzillions, founded by Nancy Pey in 2019, sets out to do. The art school’s lessons are not solely focused on artistic growth; instead, there is a heavy emphasis on integrating STEM learning into their art classes, which forms what the school calls STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). Their students are exposed to a wide range of art mediums, ranging from acrylic painting and oil pastels to clay and printmaking, allowing them to stimulate their innate curiosity while approaching their work from a scientific perspective.
A Different Learning Environment
LEARNING THROUGH ART
Artzillions’ unique approach to teaching art was influenced by what Nancy and her family experienced during their 16-year stay in Taiwan. The many years her children spent schooling in Taiwan made her realise just how different their education system was from Singapore’s. Art was an inextricable part of a child’s learning in Taiwan, and Nancy saw the wide-ranging benefits of such a learning method.
“I think the opportunity to learn through art is so important to the growth of any child, regardless of whether they have aspirations to become an artist or not,” says Nancy.
And so Nancy started Artzillions, with the goal of bringing art learning to a Singaporean audience. But because her influences were Taiwanese, it was not easy looking for the right teachers for the job – teachers who can meld art and STEM subjects into a cohesive learning experience and, more importantly, who are passionate about teaching children. Once Nancy gathered a team of dedicated and skilled teachers, Artzillions quickly grew into a well-established and trusted art school. Offering standard classes and holiday programs for those who do not have time for regular lessons, Artzillions’ STEAM concept has won over many children and parents alike with their innovative approach to art learning.
The Benefits of Art Learning
THE ” STEAM” CONCEPT IN ACTION
But how does art learning actually look like in practice? Nancy explains how the STEAM concept is applied with a typical classroom example: “Say a child is asked to paint a picture of a bird. We do not tell them which colours they should use, or what exactly they should paint on the canvas – instead, we teach them about the bird’s bone structures, their hollow bones which enable them to fly, the mechanics of their wings, the shape of their feathers, and the streamline nature of their bodies. Then we offer the child a variety of artistic skills and techniques, such as colour theory, proportions, and compositions, for them to explore on their own while guiding them when they have questions.”
And although STEM subjects such as math and science are a key area of focus, Artzillions often expands further into the realm of the humanities as well, making sure to educate the students on culture and history. For instance, if the class is on an Egyptian theme, the teachers would share more about Egyptian culture, even showing students video clips of pyramids and mummies. “We want to teach the child to consider a subject from all possible angles,” Nancy says.
Digital art may be a popular medium nowadays, but Artzillions prefers to teach the more traditional mediums. This is done with the child’s development in mind – the tactile aspect of painting or clay making has significant benefits to a child’s motor skills, and it encourages the child to engage in physical activities instead of being glued to the screens that digital art requires.
“For us teachers, it really warms our hearts to see a child grow into a truly independent thinker.”
Teenagers and adults can also come to Artzillions to hone their artistic skills. “We do have adults coming to our Adult Specialized class, but since they are usually here to gain a new hobby or simply relax, we tend to dial back the STEM learning for them, and simply teach the various skills and techniques needed to create art.”
But Artzillion’s main goal remains the holistic development of children. Their teachers always have the children in mind and, through their STEAM concept and art learning approach, hope to help their students grow academically, cognitively, and emotionally.
“We are not simply offering art lessons – we are developing the child character,” says Nancy. “For us teachers, it really warms our hearts to see a child grow into a truly independent thinker.”