Bad Art Night 2.0

I guess you could say, this blog is kind of obsessed with Bad Art Night. Only kind of.

Last year I planned TWO Bad Art Night programs: one for teens and tweens at one library, and one for 20 and 30somethings at my other library. And right before both Bad Art Night programs happened, I moved to a new job and somebody else got to run them.

crying gif
Me, imagining how fun Bad Art Night would be

I posted my program outline for the program here: Bad Art Night: Library Program Outline. Then I got to enjoy the Bad Art Night for 20/30s as an attendee, which was awesome! I blogged about that here: Attending Bad Art Night.

In my new role, I am the Children and Teen Librarian and I get to…

plan all the programs

So of course, for my first March Break I threw the biggest, messiest, most creative Bad Art Night possible for teens and tweens. And here’s how I did it:


Purpose of Bad Art Night

Bad Art Night is all about giving youth the opportunity to be wildly creative, without any pressure to make something “good.” I’ve noticed more and more that in creative projects, kids can be very hard on themselves if they think they’ve made a mistake. The point of this program is to show them the joy of creativity and silliness. They can create with wild abandon! And they do. Believe me. They do.


Set Up

You are going to need a tarp. And plastic table cloths. And a vacuum.

I set up 6 long tables on a tarp, and covered each with a table cloth. Each table had scissors, glue sticks, and glitter glue tubes to share. On the other side of the room I set up a few tables for the “Bad Art Expo,” and one table with glue guns and a plastic trophy. Kids were told to add anything to the trophy, which would be awarded to the Best Bad Art.


Next you’re going to need a few tables filled with supplies. This is really up to you, because any crafty materials will do. Just make sure you have a LOT. I went through some old children’s craft supplies, and also asked staff for donations of anything craft related. I found / got lots of boxes, cool string, cardboard tubes, old toys, a mobile, glitter, big rolls of paper, bubble wrap, pipe cleaners, discarded books. Then I added a few dollar store purchases: decorative tape, foam bits, stick on rhinestones and googly eyes, and paint. Washable paint. This program could work without paint – it would be a lot easier to clean up, but it would be a lot less fun.

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This program was 1.5 hours:

  • 5 minutes for settling in and explaining
    • Set the ground rules! Here’s a combination of things I said and things I wish I said:
      • You can work in groups or by yourself
      • Scissors, glue sticks, crayons, and paint brushes are great tools that will help you make amazingly Bad Art. Please don’t include them in your art. We need them.
      • Write a title for your piece of art, and think of a little explanation for the Bad Art Expo
      • Everyone should add one item to the Trophy
      • Go wild, but also don’t be wasteful. Before you squeeze an literal entire bottle of paint into your box, think about why you are doing it, and if anyone will be able to see it when it’s done.
      • If you’re using paint, stay on the tarp
      • Have fun, be hilarious, and let me know if you need help!
  • 45 – 55 minutes for creating
    • Pump the jams, and let them at the craft mateiral!
  • 15 – 20 minutes for the Bad Art Expo
    • Everyone sets up their art on a table
    • As a group, tour around to each piece of art, and have the artists explain and/or give the title of the piece. Some won’t want to, and that’s okay.
    • Everyone grabs a snack
  • 5 – 10 minutes for voting and award ceremony
    • Everyone can cast one ballot with the name of a piece of art that is not their own
    • Count them, and award the trophy


Feedback from the kids was extremely positive, and I think it’s a really unique way to provide a fun, safe space. I took a ton of pictures, but to really get a sense of the beautiful chaos and excitement, you need to watch a video. Our library posted a short video of the fun, which you can watch here.

I heard kids saying things like “I feel like a little kid again!” and “This is SO MUCH FUN.” I also heard kids encouraging each other to the extreme, and working together which made all the mess so worth it.

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Downloadable Resources:


Oh and don’t forget that vacuum.

If you have any questions about this program, let me know in the comments or email me

7 thoughts on “Bad Art Night 2.0

  1. This is great! It’s funny that just by calling it “bad art” it takes away the expectation that it has to be “good”… and that very release actually promotes more creativity. Well done!

  2. This sounds AMAZING! I was never an artsy or craftsy kid, so this is probably the only kind of art activity I ever would’ve felt comfortable signing up for. How freeing to just be able to create, experiment and HAVE FUN! 🙂

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