how to get your art teacher signature look with aprons for your art room art teacher

How to Get Your Signature Art Teacher Look!

With more and more art teachers growing art businesses, becoming social media influencers and stepping out in front of a video camera, there’s more reason than ever to consider adopting a signature look.

Here’s the thing: you already have one. You just might not be aware of it. So the question is: have you considered defining it?

When I was a new teacher, I definitely had a look. But it often identified me as a lunch lady and not the art teacher.

So my search began for aprons in colors and patterns that protected my clothes and announced to all who passed by, that I was the an art teacher not a chef.

I had a selection of cooking aprons from William’s-Sonoma that took on a new role. They were meant to be temporary but once tempera paint splatters over a Williams-Sonoma apron, no amount of Oxiclean can revive them to their former glory. And here’s the truth: whatever fabric this company uses to make their heavy duty aprons, they are almost impossible to clean. 

After I left teaching, I threw away the aprons. Happily, I might add.

But not longer after, I started creating art videos for Deep Space Sparkle. That’s when I consider my presentation for the video: backdrop, clothes, art supplies, lighting. 

For my first round of professional videos for my Art School for Kids brand (remember those? I don’t sell them individually anymore but are available inside The Sparklers Club)… anyway….I wore the same shirt 5 days in a row to shoot 40 videos!

sparkler club art history school lesson videos for kids

There was something consistent and calm about the dotted coral shirt, that I actually loved. It placed the focus on the art not on me. And for those early teaching videos, that’s what I wanted.

When I planned the filming of the Art Through the Ages video Curriculum, I wanted to wear clothes that represented the 10 timelines of art history that we designed for the series. I tried to match the energy of the art period with my shirts without resorting to costumes. In the end, it felt mismatched and uncoordinated. And that’s not something that I wanted as my signature look.

It wasn’t until I became Miss Patty for Primerry, my personal art classes for kids, did I consider my roots of my early teaching days. I love pretty aprons, pops of color and a color palette that is friendly but not too sweet.

deep space sparkle office head quarters aprons for the art room art teacher

So began my search for aprons.

The Deep Space Sparkle studio is in downtown Santa Barbara and I often take short walks in the afternoon to stretch my legs. We’re close to an Anthropologie store and while the store doesn’t exactly scream art teacher,  Anthropologie has provided some great inspiration for projects plus a surprising collection of the cutest aprons.

Every season I buy whatever they have. I love coordinating my striped and polkadot t-shirts with the flowery aprons and it has quickly become my signature look for my Primerry Art Episodes. 

deep space sparkle patty palmer aprons and art lesson videos for kids primerry art episodes

But finding art aprons isn’t always easy.

Last summer, I found myself on an extended holiday at my cottage in Prince Edward Island. It wasn’t planned, which meant that I had to figure out how to film a month’s worth of art episodes without my usual set-up. I hired a videographer, rented a studio and organized the lessons…but no aprons. 

I spend two days scouring just about every store in Charlottetown for a cute apron but came up short. Luckily I had two Deep Space Sparkle aprons at the cottage so they had to step in and perform.

The truth is, it’s hard to find aprons. They are either too chef-like, too crafty or kitschy, too inappropriate (think French maid) or too matronly. 

I’m picky. My aprons need to reflect my brand and not make me feel like a grandmother (at least before I actually am one).

The best places to find aprons is high-end cooking stores, the occasional gift boutique, places like Wayfair and Home Goods which sometimes receives a shipment of seasonal aprons. 

Here are a few places where I found aprons:

Anthropologie

Deep Space Sparkle

Sur La Table

Amazon 

White apron with orange tabs Paint and Petals (IG @paintandpetals)

As you develop your art teacher persona, the trick is to actually give it some thought.

What is your art style?

What is your personal style? Are they similar? (Mine aren’t by the way…my everyday clothes are grey cashmere and linen shirts).

What type of clothes do you have in your closet?

Are you trying to copy someone else?  If you are, don’t. You will be a more successful YOU than a duplicate of someone else.

Most of all, how do you want to feel when you are teaching? If prancing around in flashy skirts is your thing, do it. 

If kicking it up in colorful Hoka’s is more your style, rock it.

I prefer a coordinated, understated yet colorful look. I want kids to feel calm when they are creating art with me. Is that the only way? Of course not. The most important thing is to deliver consistency. Children love consistency in teachers. It builds trust. And trust builds engagement. And engagement means that kids are creating.

And that’s our goal.

What’s your style? What style are you trying to develop. And if you have a shop recommendation for an apron, let me know!

What do you think?

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  • Monica j

    I wore black one day and a student commented (Well I guess I got a compliment ) “Hey where are your wacky outfits?”

  • Jen

    Thank you, I honestly struggle with this, and I think a lot of art teachers do. Right now, , my “ teacher
    “ uniform is ; converse or new balance tennis shoes, dark washed jeans ( the fabric is very soft so they look more like pants) and a silk peasant long sleeve shift. But I’m unsure if the silk shirts are okay but they are incredibly comfortable- I try to buy them; one size up so they are never form fitting. I get them at Banana Republic when they are on sale. If anyone has any thoughts that would be great. Thanks,

  • Claudette Yutkins

    I love this. Thank you Patty for always writing about the things I’m thinking about. I don’t have a style I just want comfortable and not too expensive. I can’t wear jeans because I feel it is too casual and I’m not sure it looks professional. However, acrylic on my chinos makes me crazy, so I use black yoga pants, and my black danskos, and cotton button shirts. I have an apron but it makes me feel fat with the belts so I use an apron that hangs from the chris cross shoulder straps. I still look fat but its loose. I have “flair” pins I pin to the front and have a collection starting now. Thank you for your thoughts this was great to read. Claudette Yutkins
    PS. We love the story of Anne of Green Gables. In fact we love it so much we visited the home in PEI about 8 years ago from Massachusetts. What a long drive it was but all worth it. PEI is beautiful.

  • kathydeakins38

    Wow!! I just discovered this page!! And I am blown away by how much the row of hanging aprons looks like my aprons for students to wear in my studio!! I have found most of mine at TJ Maxx, but also at HomeGoods and Target. They are usually less than $10. My students always have a favorite they wear each week-at least until they see a new one hanging on the hooks!! Feels good to know I have a style!! Lol!!

  • Cynthia Migliaccio

    Where do you get your colorful striped shirts?

    • Bethany

      Hi Cynthia! Striped shirts are easy to find almost anywhere luckily! Patty buys them from a variety of sources ❤️

  • Roberta Monette

    Hi Patty!
    I absolutely LOVE that you wear aprons, because….so do I!!! About 5-6 years ago I attended an NAEA conference in Texas, and that’s where I purchased my first ART apron! Prior to that, I’d adorn myself in my husbands oversized old work shirts, with the sleeves cut off. Picture that!
    I wore my new ART apron every day I taught, and loved that it had front pockets, and offered protection for my clothing, especially since I’m an apron wearer in my kitchen, and often wipe my hands on it. So, my apron became ‘stained’ with acrlyics, and has an awesome look to it.
    Last fall we returned to in person teaching and I transformed a white lab coat into my new work attire. It was ok., but felt somewhat out of place. Around Christmas time, I found a couple of aprons with a snowman face and snowy/santa looking cats. They were great in January/February, and that’s when I discovered the Deep Space Sparkle store! Only after signing up for the Creative Juices course.
    I was delighted to find a NEW ART APRON! I absolutely LOVE it! It is so clean looking, lol, but I already stained it with white acrylic.
    Thank you, and I’m so happy to see that YOU wear an apron as well! Hanging in my own home art studio are several aprons from when I owned a gift shop, and my old favorite from when I visited Paris, which had become well-worn from its kitchen usage. And believe me, they ALL are worn when I’m creating!

  • rose ross

    I love color and pattern.

  • vnorth

    Well, this is a funny story. A few years ago, our school held an auction, and the students insisted on auctioning my apron! It wasn’t a piece of art, but my students felt it was an actual piece of art, even commenting on the paint stains, saying a particular stain belonged to them! So, that is the reason I continue to wear aprons and love this article.

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