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Cartoon Artist Finds his Niche through Art Teacher Internship

Chris Mires is a talented self-taught illustrator and cartoon artist, but shares that he has had challenges finding employment opportunities that fit his unique needs. “I didn’t have the confidence when interviewing for a job. I didn’t think I could teach, nor did I think I could make a career in art,” said Chris, but through the support of the Employment Services at UCP WORK, Inc., and in collaboration with the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), Chris was offered a paid internship at Santa Barbara Art Works arts studio. He teaches Character Drawing classes and other illustration techniques, such as building two-dimensional form and construction lines, to artists with developmental disabilities, and has found the experience to be more enjoyable than any other job he has worked at. “People with disabilities are very genuine and honest people, and they are eager to learn,” Chris shared, “I take special attention to my students’ individual interests and it helps motivate me in developing my lesson plans.”

It is quite apparent that Chis has a superior rapport with his students. Studio Manager, Jacob Allio, explained that within only the first couple weeks into Chris’ internship, he had significantly increased attendance of participants coming to the program. Chris believes the increase in class size is due to the subject matter in which he teaches, but it's also because he has found his niche, working in a comfortable environment, and it shows. “I took some animation drawing classes at SBCC, but the experience here is more up to my speed. I like the small sized classrooms, there are no sudden loud noises, and I have the freedom to work one-on-one with each student.”

Chris is currently working towards being hired permanently as a UCP WORK, Inc. Job Coach in January, 2020. The internship opportunity not only provides him hands-on teaching skills in a real classroom setting, but most importantly, helps to strengthen his social and communication skills. “It is emotionally fulfilling to me that the students are learning from me. Here I feel valued and it’s a good fit.”

Have you participated in our ART WITH HEART campaign? Contributions to the ART WITH HEART #GivingTuesday campaign will help Chris Mires continue his meaningful arts internship and gain future employment at Santa Barbara Art Works. Give today or on #GivingTuesday, December 3, 2019, at Santa Barbara Art Works does not receive any government funding for its programs.

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