When Lisa Nadalin and Marnie Maule decided they wanted to open a business together, they knew they wanted it to be a labour of love in the place they loved most, downtown Port Coquitlam.
So when Nadalin discovered 4Cats, the Canadian-based art studio franchise, and told Maule about it, they knew what they wanted to do. It made perfect sense to open 4Cats Shaughnessy in the very neighbourhood that had always inspired them.
“Having art as our business, encouraging that love of art for families and children, and seeing them create and flourish is a big goal for us,” Nadalin says. “And doing that where we grew up as kids was super important.”
“We're passionate about what we do here. If you want to come and make art, this is the place to do it,” she says.
The studio offers a range of classes and workshops for different ages, for kids as young as two up to adults.
One popular program is the Artist Focus series – a 10 week course that explores the lives and the artistic techniques of two famous artists.
“They love it, because they're learning, they're taking in a lot of information on famous artists, and then they get to feel what that artist was like. So they're painting in that same style or creating in that same style,” Nadalin says. “They're going home and telling their parents all about Vincent van Gogh.”
They also hold family workshops, where kids and their parents can create together, which are really popular, she adds.
“Adults feel really intimidated if they haven't made art in awhile and they want to try, and being in our environment here, it's not as stressful, we make it fun,” Nadalin says.
But the studiofocuses mostly on children, and helping them bloom as creators in their own right. The kids love creating, and sharing their work with their parents, she says.
“They're so proud of themselves. They're creating something from their ideas and their imagination, and of course we walk them through the steps to do it, but they take it to their own creative level,” she explains.
The most important aspect of the studio is the welcoming, fun atmosphere, Nadalin says.
“When they come to the studio, they're going to get an experience that is heartfelt,” she adds. “We really want kids to learn and to love art and to feel comfortable.”