We look for young creatives with a deep curiosity about how their creative skills can enrich their lives and communities, are highly self-motivated, and are willing to invest time and energy to stretch beyond their current comfort zones. Problem Children are excited to work with new mediums, formats, and constraints to create more sophisticated and informed work.

The program places an emphasis on process over a final product, fostering ambitious experimentation and challenging you to lead your own project, exploration, and growth. Successful artists strive to guide their own learning, set goals and milestones, and work through their inquiries, both external and internal.

Problem Children is a program for those who are passionate about exploring the edges of their capabilities, deeply interested in their place in our world, and comfortable with being earnest and wholehearted*.

We accept students exploring: Architecture, Collage, Creative Coding, Design (graphic & web), Digital Art, Filmmaking, Illustration, Installation, Painting, Photography, Poetry, or Sculpture.

What happens during the program?

Problem Children is committed to working with exceptional young creative minds and equipping them with as many resources as possible.

Since our inaugural summer in 2018, Problem Children has offered young creatives the opportunity to work directly with creative professionals through one-on-one mentorship. Your mentor will be an informational resource and dialogue partner, they will also encourage you and hold you accountable. Mentors show you respect by inviting you toward a greatness rooted in your personal and creative growth.

Group sessions will see you working through our core curriculum of readings, exercises, and light activities with like-minded peers. These sessions are designed to give you: insights into cultural trends (how has photography changed us?); knowledge about how things get made (ever heard of a Norman Door?); language to help you navigate being a creative human (the war of art!); and space to dig into other relevant and engaging ideas. We also embark on field trips and present guest lectures tailored to your interests and feedback.

In Problem Children you will be tasked with creating a project of your own concept and design. With support from the group and your mentor, you will be expected to create a project that will require you to push past your comfort zones. This takes determination and comfort with failure – skills necessary to expand your capacities. The personal project offers you the chance to spend your summer acquiring new skills, growing your talents, and deepening your self-knowledge.

Through one-on-one mentorship, group sessions, field trips, and personal projects, Problem Children encourages you to engage your curiosity, strengthen your courage, and activate your critical thinking. It provides a platform to grow your peer network, cultivate your creativity, and exercise your ability for self-development and expression. We view these skills as integral to leading a life filled with wonder, meaning, and value. Problem Children challenges you to develop these skills – and offers you the space and support to succeed.

Students working at the Problem Children workshop

The people at Problem Library are super passionate about helping young artists to succeed by providing them with supportive mentors and an awesome space in which to create.


Why does this program exist?

Problem Children was designed to offer the creative space and education we wish had existed when we were younger.

Problem Children exists for young creatives who want to push themselves, develop a community of peers, and deepen their self-understanding. The program is a rigorous and challenging opportunity for you to grapple with big ideas and make work that is more mature, honest, and expansive. We designed Problem Children for young creatives who are ready to take their creative, critical, and intellectual aptitudes to the next level.

We believe that if we give people the opportunity to do something great – they will. Problem Children has been crafted to provide you the support, guidance, and care needed to do just that.

Put simply: Problem Children is a program built on a respect for young creative minds. We believe that the artists we work with have something unique to contribute to our world, now and well into the future. We see it as our responsibility to provide young creatives a space where their unique passions, creative visions, and voices can be expressed.

Staff & Mentors

Program staff and mentors are an all volunteer team of creative professionals enthusiastic about student development and committed to being advocates for students on an ongoing basis. The group is composed of professional artists, designers, photographers, performers, engineers, educators and writers.


Program Co-Director Daniel Lucas is a graphic designer, web developer, and lead of special web projects at Stanford’s GSE. He is passionate about education and finds deep joy in collaborating with students to explore their passions and develop pathways to achieve their goals.

Program Co-Director Jeff Masamori is a designer, photographer, and Art Director at Danner. He is honored to be a part of helping young artists realize their talents, create inspiring work, and develop creative and practical skills they’ll carry with them throughout their careers.

Lead Mentor Jess Wilson is a cabinet maker and experienced team leader. He works to provide support to the mentor team through training and advising.


Current & former mentors include

Sofia Alicastro, a film advocate and collage artist.

Blake Conway, a visual artist and Director at Problem Library.

Madeleine Cordier, an interaction designer at Apple.

Daniel Freeman, an independent filmmaker and experimental music composer.

Lydia Horne, a mixed-media artist and writer.

Vanha Lam, a visual artist.

Caroline Luu, a product designer and writer.

Peter Mark, an actor, 3D animator, and educator.

Maja Planinac, a fine art photographer.

Kateryna Romanova, a design strategist & human-centered product designer at IDEO.

Grayson Stebbins, a graphic/interface designer and product manager.

Danica Taylor, a digital & film photographer.

Nate Zack, a filmmaker and community organizer.

Interested in becoming a mentor, doing a presentation/workshop, or otherwise getting involved?

Check out our Contribute page with information for mentors, volunteers, and ways to donate.

Photo of students and mentors celebrating the closing show in 2019 Students and mentors celebrate after the closing reception for 2019.
Artists & Mentors celebrate after the 2022 closing show.
Artists & Mentors celebrate after the 2023 closing show.
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Problem Children is a program of
Problem Library, a non-profit arts & education
 organization located in the Inner Sunset.

Learn more about Problem Library.

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