A new type of night out which mixes art classes with drinking is sweeping New York – and the creative results are surprisingly good.
Tipsy Crafts instructors teach novices how to do watercolors, jewelry making and acrylic painting in the relaxed, fun atmosphere of some of the city’s hippest nightspots.
Keen artist and founder, Aristotle Poulakos, set up the business after finding that there were hardly any arts and crafts classes for adults – and the ones he did find were not to his liking.
“Many times I would find the classes boring and the instructors minimally engaged,” he says. “I would come away wanting more than what they offered.
“Coming from a nightlife entertainment background, I thought it would be great if I could come up with a way for people to learn new arts and crafts skills in an environment in which they felt comfortable.
“After researching the idea, we found out that many customers would rather be in a bar or restaurant environment versus the traditional classroom. And of course the drinking aspect helps customers get their creative juices flowing as well as alleviating many of the fears people have when attending a traditional class.”
In fact, often the participants get so relaxed during the two-hour art classes they end up mistakenly drinking the water that they use to clean their brushes.
Aristotle says: “At the beginning of every painting event, the artist gives the group a warning not to get their wine glass and their paint water cup mixed up.
“Even with that warning, it seems that at almost every event there is one customer that will make this mistake! Even though the paint is non-toxic and no harm will come of it, it’s always a comical moment in the night.”
Paint-water drinking aside, the actual works that the learners create usually become better after the first couple of cocktails.
“The majority of the time customers are very nervous at first, but once they have a few drinks, they tend to drop their shield,” he says.
“For example, at painting events, many times amateurs will focus on making sure every line is exact and that their colors are not mixing together. However, once they have a drink or two they tend to become more freehanded and less of a perfectionist, which tends to greatly improve the quality of their finished paintings!”
The classes launched in mid-August and, so far, professional women in their 20s and 30s are the main participants, along with date-night couples.
Usually, people order a drink before the event, select their supplies from the on-site craftsperson, and take a seat for a short introduction about the class. And Aristotle says it’s important that the teachers are as much a part of the evening’s fun, as doing the art itself.
“We require our artists to be more engaging and entertaining than your typical arts and crafts teachers,” he explains. “We want our guests to feel more like they are coming to a show than a class.
“Each artist must go through training where a veteran artist guides them through our process of becoming a ‘Tipsy artist’. New artists are required to come up with their own spin on our structure, as well as put humor into their routine and make sure they exhibit extremely high energy throughout the entire class.
“We also require our artists to ask questions to the entire class and to make sure all the customers are engaged throughout the event.
“We also put a big emphasis on making sure our instructors spend the majority of the class helping customers one-on-one, so as to ensure they come out with an amazing finished product, and an extremely memorable experience.”
Pop playlists help to enhance the ‘big night out’ atmosphere and wait staff offer an at-easel food and drink service, so there’s no need to leave your masterpiece half done in order to jostle at the bar.
Often novice artists are worried that they won’t know what to paint, but Tipsy Crafts has solved that problem by allowing patrons to sign up to recreate an original artwork created by the teacher to the company’s specifications.
“Patrons are guided step-by-step in recreating the predetermined masterpiece they signed up for,” Aristotle explains. “We provide the teachers with guidelines on what we are looking for and let them add their creative twist.”
*To book a class, go to Tipsy Crafts