The Importance of Process Driven Art for Children

At the Philly Art Center we talk a lot about process driven art. What this means is that we believe there are no right or wrong answers in art, but that the experience of creative engagement is first and foremost.

We believe children have a natural curiosity and drive to explore and create and we want to encourage their natural instincts by giving them developmentally appropriate materials, techniques, space, and time, to follow their own instincts as they enhance their artistic skills.

We think about what young artists will do, what skills they will learn, and what materials they will use, not what their final piece should look like. We welcome deviation and exploration because if a child is making her own decision about what to do with the material, she will learn a lot more than if we just tell her what to do.

While teaching students specific art skills, like how to scratch and attach as they sculpt with clay, or how to mix colors in paint, or use scissors correctly, is important and something we do in every class, we believe it is equally important to give students a chance to apply those skills in a way that engages their imagination and creativity.

If we show them an example and proceed to teach them exactly how to make their project the same as ours, we have only given students one answer to one question and both came from us. But if we instead give them materials and demonstrate the many ways they can use that material, we are posing questions and teaching them to find their own solutions in a world of possibility.

It is our hope that the process will help develop their curiosity because great art always starts with a question and great artists find their own answers.

10 Reasons to Focus on Process Instead of Product

  1. Process driven art is child centered and about how they experience the materials
  2. It encourages open-ended thinking and creative problem solving
  3. It helps us understand a child’s preferences and provides insight into why they might make a certain choice, validating and encouraging their own personality
  4. Focusing on process allows children to be in control and make choices and decisions–something they may not be able to do often
  5. Material exploration can lead to results you never predicted and promote an open-ness to possibility
  6. Process driven art helps children see that everyone has a unique approach and diversity can be celebrated
  7. Process driven art allows for all skill levels to be successful
  8. If children are given choice and encouraged to “see what happens” they will learn more because they are directing their own learning trajectory
  9. Process driven art encourages independence and accountability
  10. Exploration can lead to trial and error and perseverance as children try to work through their ideas and accomplish their own artistic goals


Philly Art Center has been cultivating creative genius in kids and adults since 2004. We inspire every student to create, play, laugh and learn! Learn more