A fifth generation Floridian, Becky Yohe knew she wanted to follow in her parents’ footsteps and create a combination of what she grew up loving. With her father being a stained glass artist and her mother a school teacher, Becky was able to develop her true passions and past experiences to sculpt her dream job as the proud owner of Art Centric Studio. With expansions, new instructors, and more classes than ever before, Art Centric has been thriving and continues to encourage creativity in Lakeland.
Where did you get the idea to start Art Centric Studio?
It came as a compilation of previous jobs. I wanted to focus on holding adult evening classes and then add in kid classes as a sort of side activity for the studio. Now, it has switched to more kids classes than adult evening classes and I love what we are able to do for all ages.
What is a typical day in the office?
We offer a variety of classes, so the morning will usually start off with a homeschool art class where we teach things like art history and how to paint like the great artists. In the afternoon we have our after school class where about 10 – 15 students will come and paint something new, then our night time is reserved for our adult classes from 7-9pm.
How would you describe your studio?
The studio was built to be transitional. In the mornings we have kids in preschool, so 3-5 years old, then later on we host elementary school kids. We needed to be flexible and able to adapt each class and activity to fit the age group that is working and make sure to keep their attention and give them fun projects to do. I would describe Art Centric as being both flexible and adaptable. We can have classes for the 9 year olds then set up the studio for the 90 year olds if they want to come paint. We accept everyone in our studio and want to help the community seek their inner artist and be bold enough to try something new.
What inspires your designs?
I use my past knowledge a lot and also from just learning myself. I follow a lot of blogs and social media to get inspiration from people just like me all over, but especially in places like California or on the west coast. I want to stay on trend with the popular happenings in the world of art.
What is it like being a mom and running Art Centric Studio?
Interesting…multitasking a lot. My kids are 6 and 8 now so they are flexible with me and when they aren’t in school they come with me to the studio and head right to their favorite spot and start working on their current projects. It makes my life a lot easier that they have a love for art just like me and my dad.
Where did you come up with the name “Art Centric Studio”?
I wanted a space in Lakeland that could be the center focus for art in all forms that you could come and learn all about. I wanted people not to feel intimidated and create a local, relaxed atmosphere where they can pick up a paintbrush and learn how to paint. So “Centric” made sense for me and I threw the “Art” in front of it. We added “Studio” a little later just to clarify that we are actually a studio for you to come and make art and not just a place to come buy art or put art on display. We are for the community.
What effect do you think you have brought to the Lakeland community?
Hopefully a positive and creative one! We are going to be in our fourth year of summer camps this year, and I have a student that has been in summer camps for two years and is now coming on as staff this summer. She knows where everything is and how I like to organize my classes, so I like to think that she is the example of building a better and more creative community for Lakeland.
What has been your biggest accomplishment with Art Centric Studio?
The expansion was a huge success. It was a leap of faith, and we grew it and incorporated it into our studio very well. It was nice that we needed the extra space to fit more artists, and for it to work out as well as it has is a real blessing.
Any future plans for the studio?
We take it one day at a time. I enjoy trying new things like our four-to-six week classes for adults. I want to see what the adult community likes and how we can better reach them, so more experimental classes may come for adults in the future.
Do you have a favorite artist?
In terms of the big artists, I enjoy Picasso because he shows students that the painting does not have to look like the picture for it to be art, it is how you see the picture through your own eyes that make it art.
Do you prefer teaching adult classes or kids classes?
That’s a good question. I am kind of split because I enjoy a good adult conversation and watching adults try new things, but I find that adults can be just as reserved or even more so than kids in their paintings. Kids will be more confident than the adults sometimes and that is always nice when I am teaching and students will not shy away from a challenge. I wouldn’t love my job as much if I wasn’t able to have the adult classes, but they balance each other out and keep my job entertaining and diverse.
What would be your ideal date night in Lakeland?
I really enjoy BBQ, and somewhere like the Poor Porker for after dinner, then I would want to go see a movie. My mind is always racing through painting ideas and new classes to add, and watching a movie is a way for me to not think as much and just enjoy some me time. After the movie I would like to go out for coffee.
Purple. My favorite color to wear is blue. My favorite color to paint is the cool colors, so like lime green, aqua…depends on what I’m doing.
Wonder Woman for sure. She’s my inspiration, and I wear a metal Wonder Woman bracelet all the time.
Favorite TV show of all time?
Friends. When my kids were younger I would take care of them and watch all of the seasons on repeat.
I enjoy the children’s book “The Dot.” It is about a little student who thinks they cannot draw and gets upset, mashing their marker into a piece of paper. The teacher asks her to sign the dot made by the marker and the next day at school the teacher has framed the dot and inspires the student to try again create something of their own. It’s a cute story with a message that I try to convey in my studio.
What would be your favorite day of the week?
I like Monday. I purposely don’t schedule any classes or activities on Mondays because it is my day to go out and get needed supplies and plan future activities. It’s my consistent day to be creative and check things off my to-do list.
Favorite place to eat?
I enjoy 4 Rivers Smokehouse. I’m looking forward to D’Lucas opening up in Dixieland. It is right behind the studio, and he has let me sample a few of his products and the food is soooooooo good. It’s going to be super convenient and he has really cleaned up the place. It’ll be open soon so stay tuned for that.
Pen or Pencil?
Umm…pencil. It can’t be a mechanical pencil though. The lines are too strong and the pigment is so dark it is hard to change the flexibility of what you are working on.
The creativity in this town is fantastic. Myself, with two other creatives, started the Lakeland Creative Makers that meets once a month. This group has solidified the amount of creative individuals in Lakeland and the need for creativity. Lakeland has built them up and encouraged creatives to be bold and forget about ego and just be themselves in our accepting community. That’s why I love Lakeland.
Story Trevor Peters // Photos Chazlyn O’Bannon // Edited by Danika Thiele