A new generation of young artists are thriving at Youth Interactive

 No matter from what walk of life they have come from, all Youth Interactive students have something in common, they are all kind, bright, entrepreneurially minded and incredibly talented. The students that really thrive at Youth Interactive are all go getters, they are made up of what most people call “the good stuff”, that elusive resilient quality that is either needed to survive or become a leader the community for your generation.  Some of our students come to Youth Interactive after getting in trouble with the law or realizing that the path they were on was not leading them in a positive direction. “Before I started actively participating at YI, I was a troubled youth who constantly broke the law,” says one of our students, Jose, aka Shake. “One day I decided that I needed to grow up and found that there were legal alternatives to what I was doing. YI was the answer.” Street art is slowly beginning to be recognized for the skill and precision it takes to make, but we want to make sure that our students create this art in a legal, beneficial way, which will allow them to exhibit their work without the possibility of getting in trouble.
   Here at Youth Interactive, these young men were immediately put to work to learn how to use their talents and skills for a better cause, in a way that could eventually become a business for them, and a benefit for their future. This began with a summer intensive and included designing and painting a mural about the city of Santa Barbara and recently working with world renown artist, Rafael Vargas-Suarez. “YI taught me to take my art more seriously and gave me the opportunity to receive commission for my work. It taught me how to support and provide for my son and family,” says Jonathan, another street artist that has worked on many of our larger projects. Entrepreneurship is a large part of our mission at Youth Interactive. We want the students to be able to create a lucrative job from their talent and to give them the experience of working with others and getting hired for certain jobs.

   Youth Interactive also gave the students a place to relax, meet friends, and work on developing their passion. “YI is a place that you can come to work on your art and be free,” says Alex, who recently helped create the massive mural on the side of Hotel Indigo with Shake and Jonathan. “I’ve learned that I’m a hard worker and can take on more responsibilities.” Not only do the boys create amazing works of art that are beginning to get noticed all over Santa Barbara, but they provide the center with laughs and smiles, and they bring their own personalities to the mix. “It gave me somewhere to go,” says Adali. The center is a safe environment for these young men to let it all go and work on themselves. Shake says, “At YI I can express myself freely, not be judged, and most importantly, BE myself.” These talented young men are an integral part of our center and we are proud to help them along and watch them grow into the new generation of Santa Barbara artists.

To see some recent art that these students have worked on, visit


or stop by the center at 209 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara.

To donate to Youth Interactive, please visit

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