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Meet Darren and Trisha Inouye of Rainbow Art in Monterey Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Darren and Trisha Inouye.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My wife Trisha and I started teaching at Rainbow Art 6 years ago as part-time teachers.

We took over the business as the owners and directors in January of 2017.

We both graduated from ArtCenter College of Design with a BFA in illustration and had very diverse jobs in the art industry post-graduation. We both worked as assistant directors of a small gallery in West Hollywood; we worked as freelance illustrators having our work published in children’s books, magazines, book covers, cd covers and magazine covers; we have worked on large scale murals and shown our work in many galleries and coffee shops throughout LA.

When we made the decision to take over Rainbow Art as owners and directors, it was not an easy decision. We passed on three different job opportunities that provided various benefits, either financially or in recognition, that were very attractive to us.

Ultimately, we analyzed the purpose of why we both were passionate about art in the first place. We came to the realization that we loved people, we loved hearing stories and we loved sharing stories. We realized that teaching art to children was the optimal opportunity to do all those things. The opportunity to share in these things with teens and adults was also wide open to us through an art studio.

Rainbow Art had been a longstanding business in the community of Monterey Park for 16 years under the ownership of Susanne Kwok. She generously gave us the opportunity to build from and expand the legacy she established at Rainbow Art over her many years of service to the community.

Since taking over, we have revamped the Rainbow Art programs completely to be relevant to today’s current art culture. We have successfully completed a remodel of our art studio to fully utilized the studio space to its full potential. And we have rebranded Rainbow Art as a school that values education, integrity, and communication with our students, their parents, and our community.

Trisha and I are still actively working in the art industry. We feel this is vital to being able to provide realistic and relevant experiences to our students as we all grow as artists together.

Has it been a smooth road?
One of the major struggles we encountered beyond finances and the logistical aspects of running a small business was wrestling with the thought of teaching/ owning an art school at such a young age. For both Trisha and me, teaching art and running an art school was not an immediate passion or desire of ours. We have all heard the phrase, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” Although we do not fully agree with this statement, we do believe there are some aspects of this quote that are very revealing and in some ways can be true. We have both had great art teachers in our lives, but most of the ones who were making a career out of teaching were older in age and had already had a long career in the art industry. For us, we both felt very young in our art careers, and in many ways, we felt like we had not fully realized our own potential in where our trade could take us.

There was a conversation Trisha and I had on the way back from visiting family in Northern California. During the conversation the question came up, “Would we be satisfied if no one knew our names and if we worked our whole lives in the small city of Monterey Park just to potentially affect a few people?” The honorable answer would be “YES,” but that “yes” didn’t come naturally to us and it took a lot of time and conversations for that thought to become a cherished value and goal for us.

As I mentioned before, Trisha and I still work in the industry, but we have a different outlook on our work now. Before, each job was another thing to put on our resume.

Now we see each job as a potential opportunity for our students. For example, we are currently working on a mural for Sanctuary Coffee in Claremont. When we got the job, one of the first things we thought of was, “Which one of our students could benefit from this experience?” We ended up being able to collaborate with one of our portfolio students on the mural. Not only were we able to spend time together painting the mural and showing her our process in painting large scale projects, but we were also able to share life, stories, and experiences with our student and work with her as a fellow creative.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Our vision at Rainbow Art is to seeing young artists thrive. We accomplish this by providing a quality education in visual arts and a safe place for young artists to grow under the guidance of professional artists.

We have seen many times that art education is misunderstood. This makes sense because it is very hard to quantify progress with an art form that is so seemingly subjective. We believe that it is our job here at Rainbow Art to demystify artistic growth, not only for our students, but also for our student’s parents to understand the process.

In order to understand the struggles and growth of an artist, one must be an artist. For this reason, Trisha and I both continue to work in the art industry to continually develop our own skills as well as to create relationship and partnerships with other artists for our students to meet.

Rainbow Art has three values that are foundational to all our programs. They are: education, integrity, and communication. Here is what we mean by each:

Education: We are focused on teaching our students the “how” and “why” of what they do in art. Each image they create in class is directed to teach them an artistic principle.

Most times students will fail to achieve an accurate understanding of each principle taught on their first try. We at Rainbow Art do not see this as a problem, but rather an opportunity to teach about the creative process, which is defined by overcoming failures and learning to problem-solve. Not all our students will pursue a career in art, but all will have to learn to solve problems in life.

Integrity: At Rainbow Art, all our students’ work is done 100% by them. Success is determined by the work put into each art piece. We are not here to trick parents or students with beautiful images taken home every week, but rather we are here to give realistic, honest, and professional feedback on their child’s artistic growth.

Communication: We are committed to communicating with our students and parents about the progress of their child’s artistic growth. This is possible because each of our students and their parents can schedule free consultation meetings with both Trisha and I up to once a quarter (every 3 months). In these consultations, we can review each student’s file, where we can see which lessons they have been taught and how they took each lesson. We can also address any concerns of the parents and answer any questions from a professional artist’s standpoint. Goals for each student can be readdressed as they can often change. Some may enjoy just trying art, some may pursue a career as artists, some may want to learn a new hobby, and some may want to use art as a creative outlet.

Rainbow Art is not just for the serious, talented students who want to pursue an artistic career. It is also for the student who just wants to draw Pikachu a little better or the student wants to express their stories in a new medium or in a new style. Regardless of our students’ skill, talent or experience, we are committed to taking each student as far as they are willing to go in their creative pursuit.

We offer our programs at an affordable rate so that everyone can enjoy the process of developing their artistic skill.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is a great city for artists. There is so much to be inspired by no matter where you are. Here in Monterey Park there doesn’t seem to be a lot of artistic expression, but that doesn’t mean that inspiration is lacking. This is why we feel it is important for us to be here. We look forward to what Rainbow Art can offer to our community and for what opportunities we will have to greater expand the blessing of creative expression within our city.

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