Berry Stein, a former New Yorker with a passion for art education, decided to convert her garage into an art studio in 2017. She had low expectations, mainly envisioning it as a casual space for friends to gather, eat, drink, and make art. Before long, it became an important space for connection, creativity, and exploration.
While Stein initially had no plans to further develop this creative space, an idea was sparked when her friend asked, “Why don’t you formalize this?”
When another friend spontaneously offered Stein a large space in Chinatown, she took it as a sign to begin teaching art workshops to other Angelenos, hoping to increase the practice of creative expression in her local community and encourage people of all ages to rediscover their inner child.
Stein’s workshops quickly gained popularity, and before long she was hosting them in several spaces around Los Angeles, including the Hammer Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and other independent and corporate art spaces.
With the workshops’ newfound success, Stein struggled to transport the variety of necessary supplies from location to location, jokingly referring to herself as “Berry the schlepper.” She researched art kits online as an attempt to scale the business, but discovered they were overpriced and overcomplicated, even for someone with vast experience in art education.
Like any good artist, mixing colors to get just the right hue, Stein gathered ideas then created the product she was looking for. She ordered wholesale supplies from Amazon and began to carefully curate her kits. Stein’s mission to encourage people of all ages and from all fields to engage in “creative playtime” was well underway when COVID hit and in-person art workshops were out of the picture. Stein was armed with a new challenge: to encourage artistic exploration at home. And with that, Art Life Practice was born.
Art Life Practice offers four kits, the Collage Kit, Painting Kit, Sketch Kit, and Embroidery Kit, each aimed at encouraging individuals to explore their artistic capabilities and embrace the therapeutic nature of creating art.
While starting a business during a pandemic brought challenges, Stein’s persistence paid off—her kits proved to be the perfect pandemic pastime. Not only are they a labor of love, but, evidently, also are well curated and created.
Stein explains that creating something, even as simple as a kinetic sculpture out of wire and beads, offers a great reward—something we all sought as we sat at home.
Now, as we eagerly step back into public lives, Stein is relaunching in-person workshops. While it is an exciting step, and one that is well earned and long awaited for, the workshops are not where her vision ends. Eventually, she hopes to create a foundation that can bring art and high-level arts education to incarcerated youth. Stein admires the Bauhaus movement and Black Mountain School—fertile ground where students and teachers alike were encouraged to be interdisciplinary and exploratory. With Stein’s talents and intentions, there’s little doubt that her own creative endeavors will foster inspiration.