Arts & Culture News

Dsgn For Us Teaches Adulting Lessons Through Coloring

Some of us need to learn adult skills like budgeting, and Natalia Padilla wants to help get us there through coloring.
Some of us need to learn adult skills like budgeting, and Natalia Padilla wants to help get us there through coloring. Desiree Gutierrez
Algebra, world history and biology were all required courses in our youths, but most of us did not use that stuff after leaving high school. What we needed was Adulting 101 to teach us about taxes, mortgages or at least how to make a budget. The education system has not yet caught up with the fact that basic life skills are a necessity, but Natalia Padilla has.

The Dallas-based social practice artist is the founder of Dsgn For Us, an “initiative movement that brings educational experiences that are well designed and exciting to the community,” as Padilla says.

“These are things that we don’t learn about in school and that we use in our daily lives, like basic information on financial literacy,” she adds.

Padilla has joined forces with Color Me Empowered, a nonprofit devoted to generating a creative educational outlet for inner-city children and at-need communities, with a workshop called Primary, a free color theory workshop for children ages 10 and older that spotlights financial literacy through education on budgeting. The class breaks budget-making down into six steps including income analysis, fixed costs, financial goals, non-monthly income and flex spending.


“I didn't learn how to make a budget until I was an adult a few years back, so I think that Primary would be beneficial for anybody that would like to start taking better care of their finances,” Padilla says. “I've also noticed that a lot of people don't want to make a budget until they feel like they're in a good financial position and sometimes you can start creating a budget where you are at now by organizing yourself.”

The first set of workshops was held Sept. 18 at Color Me Empowered (2101 West Clarendon Drive).

“It went really well,” Padilla says. “The group that came in wants to come back. That is a good sign. I am hoping more people sign up for this Saturday’s class.”

The second set of workshops will be held on Sept. 25. Participants will be adding to the joint painting of a 5-by-10 canvas, with the finished canvas to serve as a mobile art piece. There will be 10 sessions in 30 minute increments held between 10 a.m. and noon with a limit of five people per session. Participants must register for the upcoming sessions and facilities can request for the piece to be displayed in their facilities by contacting [email protected]

“These are things that we don’t learn about in school and that we use in our daily lives, like basic information on financial literacy.” –Natalia Padilla

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Padilla has generated a career of merging art with personal development. Earlier this year, she promoted education for immigrant integration through LOCAL, a coloring book that provides resources for new residents to North Texas. Padilla is currently at 127 books donated of her 1,000 book goal for her Buy a Book, Gift a Book program.

Padilla has been able to expand Dsgn For Us’ aspirations through five ArtsActivate grants from the Dallas Office of Arts and Culture for the development of Primary and two other projects: Color For Life and Relish.

Color for Life is a color theory workshop that took place over the summer in partnership with Bishop Arts Theater with workshops that took place at eight different schools in Dallas. The student’s art will be on display at Exe Ovo Gallery Oct. 13-30.

Relish is Padilla’s artistic bridge between nutritional education and art. Based on Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, a nutrition guide that replaced the old food pyramid, Padilla designed five posters. Padilla is donating 500 posters to community organizations including Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Latino Cultural Center, Bishops Arts Theater, Vogel Alcove, Big Thought, The Smart Project, Francisco Medrano Middle School and the Dallas Public Library.

“The idea is for everyone to have access to this information,” she says.
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Desiree Gutierrez is a music and culture intern at the Dallas Observer. Equipped with her education from Dallas College Brookhaven Campus and the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism, Desiree has transformed the ability to overthink just about anything into a budding career in journalism.