By working with new mediums, formats, and constraints, the program pushes students to create more sophisticated and informed work.

Ideal candidates have a deep curiosity about how their creative practice functions in their own lives and in the broader culture, should be highly self-motivated, and are willing to invest time and energy to stretch beyond their current comfort zones.

The program places an emphasis on process over a final product, challenging students to engage their capabilities for self-direction. Successful students will show an interest and ability to guide their own learning, set goals and milestones and work through their inquiries, both external and internal.

We are currently accepting students with a focus in:

Visual arts: Photography, Design (graphic & web), Illustration, Painting, Digital Art, Architecture, and Sculpture/Installation.

What is the program about?

PROBLEM CHILDREN was designed to provide the creative space and education we wish had existed when we were younger.

Now in its fifth year, the program leverages the passion and experience of creative professionals to provide students the space and guidance to explore their creativity. We believe a mentorship that provides encouragement, shares knowledge, and teaches skills-based wisdom, is critically important to growth.

Through 1:1 mentorship, group sessions, and on-location experiences, the program encourages curiosity, critical thinking, and self-development—skills students will carry throughout their educational and professional lives.

The core curriculum is continuously developed in response to the interests and feedback of students, with each student creating their own path for exploration and project development. Group sessions provide a learning environment of like-minded peers that encourages collaboration and creates accountability, pushing students to reach their full potential. Mentors support individual explorations meant to elevate and expand each student’s talents and interests.

The program culminates with each student creating one mid- to large-scale project that represents the progress of their self-directed explorations and thinking throughout the program.

Students working at the Problem Children workshop

We are so pleased with Emerson's experience with Problem Children. Problem Children allowed her to express herself in such a positive way. The opportunities to connect with and work with artists and creative professionals has been amazing.

Kathy Michihira


Problem Children is committed to working with exceptional young creatives and providing them with as many resources as possible.

Through student tuition, partnerships, financial and material donations, and creative thinking, we are able to give students access to a wide range of tools, knowledge training, and creative possibilities. The program leverages all support into tangible results for students, maintaining its effort on providing opportunities that are responsive to the needs of students.


Information sessions & application interviews

We offer information sessions for parents and students who are interested in applying, but would like more information. If you’d like to attend an information session, please email Daniel to set up an appointment.

Problem Children is built for anybody, but is not for everybody. As such, we take applications very seriously and include a 30 minute video interview as the second stage of the application process. After interviewing students, we ask that parents make themselves available for a 15 minute conversation with the program director and relevant staff. This gives us contextual information and helps us better understand and support your child.

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 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.

Assistant Program 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.

Workshop Director Blake Conway is a woodworker, artist, and Director of Problem Library.

Program advisor Tamara Chu is a developer, dancer, and multimedia artist working in San Francisco. She is interested in how art practices direct attention and expand the realm of the possible, and is excited to partner with students to conjure a more curiosity-driven world.


Current & former mentors include

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

Madeleine Cordier, an interaction designer at Apple.

Lydia Horne, a mixed-media artist and writer.

Vanha Lam, a visual artist.

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.

Char Simpson, a non-binary artist, interactive writer, and creative producer.

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

Danica Taylor, a digital & film photographer.

Jesse Wiener, a dancer and taiko drummer.

Photo of students and mentors celebrating the closing show in 2019 Students and mentors celebrate after the closing reception for 2019.

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.

Sponsored by

Problem Children is funded through private donations, student tuition, and has been partially supported by the CalArts Graphic Design Alumni association.

***** ** * * * * ***********

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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