About a year ago, my mother asked me if I might be interested in participating in the Inaugural Acton Children’s Business Fair of Morgan Hill, taking place in July 2021. We sat together and researched the parent organization and agreed that the ACBF of MH would be a great fit for my talent, my skills and my business endeavor, Art Made By Matt.
Art Made By Matt had its genesis when I was 4 years old. My mother was organizing a craft fair and I wanted to participate, so I created my first ever set of greeting cards, which featured two of my art pieces. I sold out those 20 cards in the first hour. I was hooked! I loved (and still love) making art, and I loved talking about my art. Plus, for a 4 year old, $40 cash was pretty cool.
My love for art grew as I started taking classes with a fantastic local art teacher when I was 6 years old. I had made lots of art before starting formal classes, I like to say my mom was my first art teacher. But, as my mom says, “Matthew had an innate passion that required teaching beyond my ability. He learned quite a bit with me, but he needed a real art teacher, someone to offer him the true building blocks of art.”
My mother taught me so much, but in formal classes I learned even more about the history of art, developing creativity and exploring the process of creating. Over time, I started creating a very basic portfolio. As well, in those first few years, my parents helped me put together well over 500 pieces of merchandise to be sold through Art Made by Matt.
In my pre-teen years, I advanced to a new teacher who encouraged me to continue to develop my personal style. Being that I am red/green colorblind, this included giving me permission to create art without concern for realistic colors. This new style included lots of artistic experimentation and advancement for me, and while I have improved since, I am still proud of the works I created during this time. It was also a transitional time for me as I was not attached to every piece, so I was pleased to sell original works and create commissions. During this time, I had two solo art shows and participated in several shows that featured youth artists.
In recent years, I have made art on my own and through several college classes that I have had the ability to take through Gavilan College as part of my enrollment at Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA.) I have enjoyed learning beyond the basics and having unique assignments to complete. I have largely moved beyond my past styles of art and adopted new mediums, new subjects and new methods.
Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, I had participated in many arts and crafts fairs as well as countless boutiques. Almost all of those were suspended during the 2020-21 seasons, so the opportunity to participate in the Acton Children’s Business Fair seemed like a dream. I signed up right away and got to work stocking my art studio with new art and products that feature my art.
Via email, I was able to meet the ACBF Morgan Hill organizer, Ewa Samples. Even through her email, I could sense her enthusiasm and I was even more certain that participating in the Acton Children’s Business Fair at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center was a great fit for me.
Ms. Ewa is very dedicated to the youth of our community. I always enjoy listening to her plans for the future. I greatly enjoyed working with her, even so that I volunteered to work at her booth at the recently revived Art a la Carte. She is very excited to bring the Children’s Business Fair back for a second year.
The ACBF is designed so that young people develop their entrepreneurial skills independent of their parents. It is truly incumbent on the youth participants to figure out what they will feature in their booths. In my case, I set up my booth with canvases that featured my original art and merchandise such as matted art prints, stickers, magnets, art greeting cards, mugs/plates,/kitchenware, jewelry and unique items. I set my prices so that practically anyone can own a piece of my art, from a $2 sticker to an original piece at $200.
Being that the event is a “Children’s” fair, I handled greeting all the visitors, well over 300 in a mere three hours, selling merchandise, garnering new Instagram followers, making change and taking credit cards and electronic payments. Usually my mother helps with the banking, but I was pleased to do it all by myself. I did have to turn over my booth for a few minutes when the ACBF judges came by to visit and ask questions. I was quite excited to engage in that interview and was proud of the title I won, “Most Business Potential.”
Participating in the 2021 ACBF of Morgan Hill was a highlight in my artistic career. I have talked about that fair and my experiences in it with nearly anyone that would listen. I have since signed up to have a booth for the Second Annual Acton Children’s Business Fair of Morgan Hill, taking place on Aug. 6, and I encourage any young people to participate as well. All you need is an idea, some creativity and time to plan your booth and what you will present or sell. Of course, you will need some support from your parents, but this is something that all young people can do. Trust me when I say that participating in the event can be life altering.
Matthew James “MJ” Fitch, age 15, is a Junior at the Gilroy Early College Academy. Beyond academic engagements. MJ enjoys playing the acoustic guitar, cooking and graphite portraiture. When not drawing he can be found reading, watching reality TV shows and relaxing with his four rescue cats. His art can be found on Instagram @artmadebymatt & he can be reached at [email protected].
Children’s Business Fair
What: A one-day outdoor event where attendees and patrons can shop from a variety of small businesses, all created and run by children age 5-16.
When: 11am-3pm Aug. 6
Where: Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, 17000 Monterey Road
Details and registration: tinyurl.com/wauf4ncc
More details on Facebook: tinyurl.com/2p8nnju4