3 & 1/2 Questions : Ron Pippin of ARTtv
I first heard about ARTtv when the organization behind it — Outside Voice, a creative community for kids, crowdfunded for support last year to produce their new online show: Help build ARTtv, a wildly imaginative web series inspiring kids to GO MAKE ART!
ARTtv is the brainchild of Ron Pippin, an Austin filmmaker and father of two. Ron conceived the show to inspire kids to be creative, encourage them to draw, write, make music, make stuff, and have fun.
“We want to do what Children’s TV Workshop did for younger kids, but with way more emphasis on finding your creative center. We all have one. When you find it the world becomes a better place.”
ARTtv launched last month with a spotlight on writing, participating in YouTube kids’ #Readalong for the month of June. Check it out:
I’m a fan of ARTtv — I think it’s great what they’re doing because I believe in the importance of art in our culture/life. Our own Weekly Doodle Challenge was inspired by a drawing suggestion that Ron made, and I’m really glad to have Ron Pippin today on 3 & 1/2 Questions.
HI Ron. Can you tell us how ARTtv began?
Seven years ago I started looking at what shows were available for our kids to watch. The kids were three and four at the time and liked Sesame Street and Electric Company. I grew up on those show, too, and I noticed that after our kids outgrew PBS, there are not enough smart, fun learning shows for older kids anymore. When Bill Nye came out, that was great. ZOOM was this funky, low budget syndicated 70s PBS show from Boston on our local PBS Station in Dallas. My brother and I never missed a show and it inspired us toward different creative pursuits. Plus, it was an interactive show. They would ask you to mail in ideas. These shows inspired me as a kid and still do. I became a commercial director and animator because of these shows. When we were in high school, friends would gather around MTV every day until we had to go home for dinner. This had a big impact on me because I loved music. Now it had pictures.
The decline in arts education funding is a travesty for our kids. Everyone knows the arts are rich in skills kids need to be well-rounded. So many parents send their kids to supplemental music, dance or theater classes because they aren’t getting enough in school and these parents understand that arts matter. Of course, the kids whose parents can’t afford it get the short end of the stick. Outside Voice and ARTtv are working to get the arts to kids who aren’t getting equal access.
So, ARTtv is some hybrid of ZOOM, Sesame Street, Electric Company, Billy Nye, Monty Python and MTV. We teach kids to create and observe.
What is the biggest challenge of producing the show?
ARTtv is a labor of love. The project makes no sense in the context of a work/life balance because it’s like having a second full-time unpaid job. But kids deserve better. And I believe in what we’re creating and our mission to keep growing arts resources for kids. In time we will find the sustainable support we need. And we’re creating our own original works and exploring new disciplines as creators. So it’s liberating to try.
After 25 years making work for others, it’s so much fun to make up your own work. We’re writing our own songs, pairing teen poets with professional animators. There are infinite possibilities for new things we make. And I’m proud to be helping bring young creators work into the world. That feels like something worth waking up for. I think an arts-rich life helps kids on their journey — emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
I also find growing an audience is hard. If I was smart, I would feature more cute animals and gamers, I think. We did just pass 30k views, which is a great start to our channel.
What is your dream collaboration or project for ARTtv?
My dream would be that kids all over the world are watching our show and collaborating virtually on projects. We’re not just building a show, we hope to build a community of kids and parents who can help put the arts back in the education conversation.
I would love to have Mark Mothersbaugh (DEVO), David Byrne (TALKING HEADS or Tom Waits on ARTtv making music or some other kind of art with a group of kids. And artist Wayne White. He made the puppets and sets for Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Wayne is my spirit guide for ARTtv. Really, any artist who creates with a youthful vigor is an inspiration to me. No matter the discipline.
Please complete this sentence: My favorite thing to draw is ____.
“Exquisite corpse” drawings with our kids. One of us starts drawing, finishes a little something and passes the pen to the other. And we keep doing this until we get hungry or run out of paper. The results are usually hilarious. Drawing is one of our favorite bonding activities. We can do it anywhere, it’s free and we can do it together. And I don’t feel judged for my lack of real drawing skills because my kids just want to hang out with me.
Thanks Ron Pippin for stopping by KCD and for creating fun videos for kids! Please check out and subscribe to ARTtv channel here.
All videos courtesy of Ron Pippin.