No Limits, Just Messy Madness: An Inside Look at Every Child’s Dream Art Studio

What do you get when you convert a salad bar into an art studio? Art ala Carte. In this colorful, comfortable studio, kids can channel their inner creativity for hours on end and can craft whatever they dream up. From birdhouses to spaceships, picture frames to abstract art, Aria Leighty’s Portland-based studio provides her local community with a fun place for self-expression.

Early in her career while working at the YMCA, Aria noticed that there was a huge opportunity to improve children’s art programming. Determined to empower kids to shake off creative boundaries and time limits, she mused that it would be fun if there were salad bars that kids could visit and load up trays of limitless supplies. In 2012, Art ala Carte, a minority-owned, woman-owned, and mommy-owned business was born and Aria made her vision a reality.

In addition to her open studio, Aria’s two most popular events include Messy Madness and Parent’s Night Out. During Messy Madness, kids up to 3 years old can experience a ‘one of a kind play date,’ where they can get messy on huge canvases with finger paints, painting their toes and fingers into a work of art. Equally adorable is Aria’s Parent’s Night Out, during which parents can drop off their kids for 3 hours at the studio while they can get some all-too-necessary time to themselves.

Photo credit: Rusty Aperture Photography

Photo credit: Owl’s Eye Photography

When asked what Aria loves about planning events, she replied, “I don’t love anything about planning events. It’s a stressful process, but thankfully Eventbrite has alleviated some of that stress.” Eventbrite has even helped her find new customers, as she explains that she frequently sees new names of people registering for events.

Before using Eventbrite, Aria was just having people email her to sign up for her popular events, which became too much for her to manage. After a friend told her about Eventbrite, she made the switch. “I feel like it is so much easier to manage and reply to emails. Having all of the payment information right there is just so convenient for me,” she says.

Photo credit: Rusty Aperture Photography

So, what’s next for Art ala Carte? Aria wants to ramp up mobile events, setting up locations across the city in libraries and malls. No matter what’s next on the horizon for Aria, one thing’s for sure: Art ala Carte makes every grown-up secretly wish they were a kid, because what’s better than a little messy madness?