Childrens drawings as a force for good

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Childrens drawings: did you know that the biggest painters of our times were highly inspired by kids drawings? Picasso, Matisse and Basquiat: big artists whose work was highly influenced by the child’s mind. At Face This we believe kids in developing countries like Indonesia should be able to use their creative mind to improve their lives for the better. And that’s why we design our merch using Indonesian kids’ drawings.

How childrens drawings inspired the biggest artists

Gia surf drawing

Many artists were and are fascinated and inspired by the creativity and play of children. Children were a source of inspiration for artists like Picasso, Basquiat, the CoBrA-artists and more contemporary artists. And many of the century’s greatest artists – Kandinsky, Klee, Matisse, Picasso, Miró and Dubuffet – had sizable collections of childrens drawings. 

Pablo Picasso

The Spanish painter Pablo Picasso would have loved to be told his art was childlike in many respects. He thought trying to make paintings that looked like photographs missed the point of art altogether. ‘It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child’, he once said. According to some curators Picasso meant by that: ”It can take a long time to learn how to strip away the foolishness of the world and get back to the simple truths that one knows as a child – and to learn how to act with spontaneity. One of the great strengths of Picasso’s art is the spontaneity of his gesture. It is strong and sure and unforced – like that of a child.”

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Henri Matisse

By the turn of the 20th Century, avant-garde artists were interested not only in children, but also in the freshness of children’s drawings. These offered a model for how art could challenge traditional ways of painting. For children, drawing is a way to express their desires and joys. Artist Henri Matisse: “The artist has to look at everything as though he saw it for the first time: he has to look at life like he did when he was a child…”

Karel Appel

In contemporary art, the interest in the child is often a way of looking critically at society. Although ideas about the child have changed considerably since the 1950s, the artists of CoBrA have one thing in common: they take the child very seriously. Collectively, art offers a versatile and sometimes critical view of the creative expression of the child. Karel Appel: “Our dreams, our behavior, our work, there was indeed something childlike about it.” In their attitude to life and play, children were a powerful source of inspiration for the renewal of art and society for the CoBrA movement (1948-1951).

Artists and childrens drawings

Big artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Basquiat found inspiration in kids’ drawings and creativity. But it’s not only the biggest names in art that feel inspired by it. In general, artists are interested in children’s drawings as the childlike creativity and uninhibited nature found in childrens drawings serve as a reminder to established artists to embrace spontaneity, authenticity, and unconventional thinking in their creative process.

Using childrens drawings as a force for good

At Face This we see the child’s mind as a creative treasure trove. And we think kids in countries like Indonesia should be able to use this creativity to improve their lives for the better. We see it as our mission to help kids in Indonesia unearth their creative treasure trove and at the same time inspire global artists by letting them collaborate with the kids on meaningful merch, with proceeds being used to improve the kid’s schools. In below video you can see how designing merch with Indonesian kids drawings works out:

Why artists love to work with our Indonesian childrens drawings

Since 2008, we match Indonesian school kids with internationally renowned artists. This collaboration starts with the kids creating drawings about their lives. And then the artists use these drawings to create fantastic T-shirt artworks. The proceeds of these drops go back to the schools. But the kids are not the only ones who profit from this experience. The participating artists highly appreciate the wonderful drawings they get to work with:

Stina Persson

  • Artist: Stina Persson
  • Country: Sweden
  • Collaborations with: Nike, The McCartney family, Hearst, Louis Vuitton, L’Oréal, Vogue Japan and W Magazine.

One of the first artists who got to work with the Indonesian childrens drawings from Face This is Stockholm based Stina Persson. Persson fuses the traditional with the edgy to introduce a modern look to illustration. Persson remembers approaching the design was really tricky: ‘Because it’s something very far from what I usually do – merging a child’s drawing with my art. If I had it to do again, I might have done it differently. But it has taught me to continue, even if a collaboration turns out really unexpectedly. And that is something I hold on to to this day.”

Liv Lee

  • Artist: Liv Lee
  • Country: Australia
  • Collaborations with: Hessnatur, Anthropology, Gorman

Liv Lee is an Australian artist, illustrator and product maker who lives and works in Biripi Country. Her signature style consists of ‘wobbly’ interpretations of plants, flowers and fruit, which inspire happiness and evoke nostalgia. In 2022, she designed a Face This T-shirt using children’s drawings made at the Duduk Atas school in Lombok, Indonesia. ‘The design process for the t-shirt probably pushed me to think a little outside the box in terms of both colors and shapes. And the way I see a bird or the way I interpret a fish, not to just draw the first thing I think of, but to try again and use different shapes that you wouldn’t normally do. Use something you are not used to and something beautiful can come out of it.’

Maggie Stephenson

  • Artist: Maggie Stephenson
  • Country: USA
  • Collaborations with: Puma, The Times, Elle Magazine

Another artist who was able to collaborate with Indonesian schoolchildren is Maggie Stephenson. Stephenson is a Polish-German illustrator based in Florida, USA. Her work ranges from editorial illustrations, book covers to backgrounds for commercials and advertisements. She has worked with a wide range of international clients including Puma, Sephora, Urban Outfitters, illy Coffee, British Airways, The Times, Elle Magazine, Harper Collins Publishing and many more. Stephenson on what she considers her greatest lesson from working with children: “Taking inspiration from the beauty of life around us. If we are willing to look for it, we will find it. And the children’s drawings were a nice reminder not to overcomplicate art and to take inspiration from our environment. Inspiration is truly everywhere.”

Martcellia Liunic

  • Artist: Martcellia Liunic
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Collaborations with: H&M, Samsung, Netflix

Indonesian artist Martcellia Liunic designed a T-shirt for a Face This collection in 2021, a collaboration with WeTransfer’s art blog WePresent. Liunic’s works are known for their bold colors and characters. She describes her art as the “right combination of cute and trippy.” Liunic about working with children from Lombok: ‘I think one lesson I learned while working with Face This and Indonesian children is that their learning process and also the way they approach life is very inspiring, very positive, and I think we should all learn from it.’

martcellia liunic

Ricardo Cavolo

  • Artist: Ricardo Cavolo
  • Country: Spain
  • Collaborations with: Kaytranada, Zara, Ikea

Ricardo Cavolo is a Spanish artist based in sunny Barcelona. Cavolo’s portfolio includes public murals and art exhibitions around the world, from Paris to Moscow and from Mexico City to Hong Kong. Cavolo’s oeuvre mainly includes illustrations, publications, fashion collaborations and a wide variety of commissioned works. Cavolo is very fascinated by the naive way of drawing that children have: ‘All artists try to return to that way of working at some point, so being able to collaborate with a child was really a dream. I understood the mood of the child’s drawing, and the information Face This gave me was good enough to build something meaningful that was still connected to the child’s mind.”

Celebritees

Like what you see? You’re not alone. Check out the trailblazers who are raising awareness for our cause:

Dropping meaningful merch. Every. Single. Month.

Face This is the world’s first social streetwear brand where Indonesian school kids collab, design and drop meaningful merch with (street)artists from around the world. This makes us a charity, dressed up as a streetwear brand. Because the proceeds of their raw creativity improves the kids’ education. Every single month, we drop a brand new collab consisting of tees, totes and sweaters. 

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