Thomas S. Cleveland, Master Artist

Thomas S. Cleveland

At five years of age, Tommy wanted to be a real artist. Like many young children he loved to draw. He however, just never stopped. Driven by a passion to create, he honed his talent by persistence, training and practice. Efforts that were rewarded by prestigious national and international awards, Fortune 500 clients and as one of the nation’s first Master Artists to serve in the United States Mint’s historic Artistic Infusion Program designing our national coinage. Read more…

Amber Cleveland, Director, Artist, Instructor

The eldest daughter of master artist Thomas Cleveland, Amber was born into art with both parents in the graphic designer industry. In the late 1990’s, while her father was the lead instructor of the children’s program at the Houston School of Art & Design (HSAD), Amber spent every summer and weekend at the school working with a variety of artistic mentors that helped mold her creative mind. Her mentors included Charlie Brown, the original founder of HSAD, who gave her the opportunity to work as the administrative assistant starting at a young age. She learned more than just answering the phones however; she became versed in all the behind the scenes of what it took to run a business. Charlie taught her more than art – he taught her business sense. After Charlie’s passing, she took the opportunity offered to her family to share their wealth of artistic knowledge with a larger audience of students. In addition to the Artist Within Art School located in Cypress, they took on the new location and continued the dream Charlie had envisioned and adapted it with the methods her father Thomas had taught her over the years of working at both locations.

Amber is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s in Biology and a minor in Education. After some time in the corporate world, she realized something was missing. That ‘something’, was teaching and seeing the smiles on student’s faces when they realized their untapped talent was always within them waiting to shine through their artwork. It was returning to teach at the art school that she then that she realized her true calling, which was to inspire and support artists of all ages through the school and by visiting senior and church communities all over the Houston area.

Her students have won awards in the Houston Art Society and Lone Star Art Guild 2019 art shows which is just as rewarding to her as a mentor as it is to the student who achieved the award. She has worked with many talented teens pursuing a career in art to help build up a solid portfolio by pushing them to enter shows and other art opportunities that can help add credibility to their creative style. She is more than just an art instructor she inspires creativity to come to its full potential.

She is also an active board member of the Houston Art Society and Origins Learning Community (a non-profit specializing in training CDA programs to early childhood educators) and a Selection Committee Member for Inspiring Hands (a non-profit that provide scholarships to children with special needs to attend equestrian summer camps). When time permits she also enjoys face painting and painting large murals as well.

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Chu Okoli, Artist, Instructor

Self Portrait

Chu Okoli is a passionately-driven, award-winning Artist and Art Instructor; classically trained in the fundamentals of drawing as a backbone of all visual arts. He utilizes his vast experience in drawing to guide students through the principles and elements of art in a way that makes a lasting impression and helps to unlock their individual talents. He has created a method and approach to art instruction that’s guaranteed to improve the skills of students of all artistic levels. He enjoys helping each student uncover their hidden skills and improve their abilities through perception and spatial cognition. In doing so, this accelerates their confidence and the results often speak for themself.

In his 15 years of teaching, he has guided hundreds of students (children and adults alike) to higher levels of expression by focusing on each individual student’s strengths by using the fundamentals to accelerate what they are best at to find their own signature and style.

Let the students speak for themselves though as he has worked with a promising 9 yr old throughout the years who is now a gifted 19 year old with full scholarship at SCAD, one of the top 3 Art Schools in the country.
He is also currently working with a 90 yr old retired Opthalmologist who has never drawn a day in his life, but is now creating masterful works of art since the last three years that he started working with Chu. There are so many other stories that abound in his commitment to students over the years these are just a few of the youngest and oldest artists to give you an idea that it is never too early or too late to start your path to a more creative future.

Chu has worked with the Houston School of Art & Design from 2002 to 2015 and recently returned to us as a visiting instructor between his many art shows that require traveling, so take advantage of the time he has dedicated with the school and schedule a class with him today!

See more of his work here.

Samantha Byrym-Collins, Artist, Instructor

Sami Collins, Houston School of Art & Design

Samantha Byrym-Collins, “Sami”, was born in Houston, raised in Conroe and graduated Magma Cum Lade from the University of Houston with a Bachelor’s degree in Painting. She has always been interested in art, even as a small child, and continues to pursue her childhood dream of being an artist, in every sense of the word. Currently a member of the Conroe Art League and Lone Star Art Guild of Texas, she has been asked to host several workshops coming up this year after winning best in show at the 2017 Annual Lone Star Art Guild Convention. Seemingly shy at first, her creative light shines through her art work and to all of her students as she inspires them to pursue their Artist Within. See more of her work here.