Bellevue's Artistic Haven: Exploring the American Academy of Fine Arts
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Bellevue's Artistic Haven: Exploring the American Academy of Fine Arts

The American Academy of Fine Arts (AAFA) in Bellevue, Washington is widely recognized as one of the premier destinations for nurturing artistic talents and fostering creativity in the Pacific Northwest. Founded in 1985 by a group of professional artists and educators, AAFA has established itself as a leading institution that provides comprehensive arts education across a diverse range of disciplines.

With a mission to "ignite creative potential and empower artistic confidence in people of all ages and skill levels", the academy has been committed to excellence in arts instruction and enrichment for over 30 years. It offers a vibrant, supportive community where students can discover and develop their talents under the guidance of accomplished artists and teachers.

Boasting state-of-the-art studios, specialized equipment, and a talented faculty, AAFA provides unparalleled arts training that has launched many students into successful creative careers. Its comprehensive curriculum, engaging classes and workshops have earned the academy accolades from students, parents and arts organizations across Washington state.

Whether you’re looking to explore a new medium, hone existing skills or prepare for a career in the arts, AAFA is widely recognized as the ultimate destination to master your craft. With a legacy of artistic excellence spanning over three decades, the American Academy of Fine Arts continues to be a trusted institution for nurturing talents and inspiring creativity in Bellevue and beyond.

Art Programs

The American Academy of Fine Arts offers an extensive array of art programs for students of all ages and skill levels. From foundational drawing and painting for beginners to advanced techniques like printmaking and sculpture, there are classes to match any interest or ability.

For children, the Academy provides a nurturing environment to explore creativity through age-appropriate classes in drawing, painting, ceramics, and mixed media. Themed classes bring exciting subjects like animals, nature, fantasy, and illustration to life. Kids can also join after-school and weekend classes to further develop their talents.

Teens can select from courses in observational and expressive drawing, acrylic painting, digital media, cartooning, fashion design, and more. There are portfolio development classes to prepare aspiring artists for college applications. Workshops throughout the year allow teens to experiment with new media under the guidance of expert instructors.

Adults have a diverse curriculum to choose from, including oil and watercolor painting, pastel drawing, photography, calligraphy, jewelry making, pottery, and woodworking. Beginner classes provide a solid foundation in artistic techniques while advanced courses allow more experienced students to refine their skills. Weeknight and weekend scheduling provides flexibility.

Whether looking to casually explore the arts or seriously enhance artistic abilities, the American Academy of Fine Arts has a dynamic program tailored to nurture each student's creative potential.

Music Education

The music education programs at the American Academy of Fine Arts are designed to nurture musical talents and inspire a lifelong passion for music. Students can enroll in a variety of music lessons, ensembles, and theory classes.

Private music lessons are offered for voice, piano, guitar, violin, drums, wind instruments, and more. Experienced instructors provide one-on-one instruction tailored to each student's skill level and musical interests. Lessons focus on technique, music theory, sight-reading, and performance skills. Students have opportunities to give recitals to showcase their progress.

For students looking to play together in a group, the academy has jazz bands, orchestras, choirs, and other instrumental and vocal ensembles. These teach important skills like collaboration, harmony, and improvisation. The ensembles put on concerts each semester.

Music theory classes teach the building blocks of music like rhythm, melody, harmony, composition, and notation. Ear training is incorporated to develop listening skills. Classes are available for beginners to advanced students.

The academy's music programs give students of all ages and abilities the chance to thrive as musicians. With passionate instructors and a supportive community, students gain confidence in their talents and appreciation for the art of music.


The American Academy of Fine Arts is housed in a beautiful 50,000 square foot facility designed to inspire creativity. The building contains customized spaces tailored to different artistic disciplines, giving students an optimal environment to learn and create.

The drawing and painting studios are flooded with natural light from tall windows, providing the perfect setting for working with color and light. These studios are equipped with easels, drawing tables, and storage for supplies and works in progress. For 3D mediums, there are dedicated sculpture studios furnished with pottery wheels, kilns, and tools for working with clay, metal, wood, and other materials. The digital media labs contain Mac workstations loaded with the latest creative software, as well as graphics tablets, scanners, and printers.

For performing arts, there are mirrored dance studios with sprung floors, recital halls, and a 150-seat theater complete with professional lighting and sound. Music students can practice and perform in one of 10 soundproof rehearsal studios as well as in the fully-equipped recording studio. The building also contains a costume shop, scene shop, and green room to support performing arts productions.

In addition to discipline-specific spaces, the academy has an art library with over 3,000 art-focused texts and resources. The on-site gallery hosts revolving exhibitions of student and faculty work. There are also lounge spaces for students to relax, connect, and find inspiration between classes. With its custom-designed studios and facilities, the American Academy of Fine Arts provides the ideal creative home for nurturing artistic talents.


The American Academy of Fine Arts has an exceptional faculty of professional artists and educators who are passionate about nurturing talent and inspiring creativity in their students. With backgrounds spanning fine arts, music, theater, and more, AAFA instructors bring a wealth of experience to their classrooms and studios.

Many faculty members are practicing artists who exhibit their work in galleries and museums across the country. They are able to provide first-hand guidance to students on building a career in the arts. Instructors also have training in arts education methodology to ensure effective and engaging instruction tailored to students' ages and skill levels.

While each faculty member has their own unique artistic style and specialty, they all share a commitment to providing thoughtful mentorship and fostering a supportive environment. Small class sizes allow for individualized attention and feedback. The curriculum focuses on developing core skills while encouraging creative self-expression and exploration.

AAFA takes pride in hiring instructors who are dedicated to helping students uncover and develop their talents. With the academy's exceptional faculty, students can gain a comprehensive education in the arts that will enrich their lives and prepare them for future success.

Exhibitions & Events

The American Academy of Fine Arts hosts a vibrant calendar of exhibitions and events that provide students with opportunities to showcase their talents, while also fostering community engagement with the arts.

The Annual Student Art Exhibition is one of the highlights of the year. This multi-day event transforms the academy's galleries into a dynamic display of hundreds of artworks across all mediums, created by students of all ages and skill levels. It's an exciting chance for families, friends, and the public to admire the creativity and artistic skills the students have developed during their classes and camps.

In addition to exhibitions, AAFA also hosts student musical performances, recitals, art sales, and receptions throughout the year. These events allow young artists to experience displaying and selling their works in a professional venue. The Holiday Art Market in December is especially popular, featuring unique handmade gifts and festive creations.

Reaching beyond just students, AAFA facilitates programs to make art more accessible in the Bellevue community. Free art camps are offered in the summer for underserved youth. The academy also partners with local charities and nonprofit organizations on art therapy and community art initiatives.

By providing a platform for students to share their passion for the arts, while also cultivating creative connections and engagement opportunities for the public, the American Academy of Fine Arts' exhibitions and events calendar brings artistic talents and the community together.

Inspiring Summer Programs

The American Academy of Fine Arts offers a wide array of immersive summer camps and intensive workshops for youth and teens. These programs provide an excellent opportunity to fully immerse in creative study and artistic development during the summer months.

Camps are offered in visual arts, performing arts, digital media, and more. Students can choose week-long camps focused on specific media like painting, sculpture, photography, dance, theater, and filmmaking. For those looking for a more intensive experience, there are 3-6 week workshops available as well.

A key highlight of the summer programs is the focused, hands-on approach. Students work closely with instructors in small class settings to receive personalized attention and mentoring. The curriculum is designed to inspire creative exploration and build artistic skills in a fun, engaging way.

In the visual arts camps, students learn to bring their imagination to life through drawing, painting, ceramics, textiles, and other mediums. Performing arts camps allow students to express themselves through dance, drama, and musical theater. For budding filmmakers, the digital media camps teach animation, coding, and video production.

No matter the medium, the emphasis is on sparking passion for the arts through immersive projects. Students leave with a sense of accomplishment, new friendships, and priceless memories. The American Academy of Fine Arts transforms summer break into an inspiring journey of creativity and self-discovery.

Community Outreach and Partnerships

The American Academy of Fine Arts is deeply committed to community outreach initiatives that promote greater accessibility and appreciation of the arts. The academy frequently partners with various organizations to offer special programs for underserved youth, seniors, and other groups who may lack access to arts education.

Some of AAFA's notable community partnerships include:

  • Kids Create Program: In collaboration with the Bellevue Boys & Girls Club, AAFA offers free after-school art classes for at-risk youth between ages 8-12. Classes are led by academy instructors and focus on creative confidence and self-expression through painting, drawing, sculpture, and more. Transportation is provided from schools to the AAFA studios.
  • ArtAccess Initiative: Working with local homeless shelters and community centers, AAFA provides free monthly art classes tailored for teens and adults overcoming challenging life circumstances. All art supplies are included and students take home their creations at the end of each workshop.
  • Senior Arts Engagement: AAFA instructors visit local senior centers and retirement communities to lead interactive art lessons for seniors. These classes aim to keep older adults engaged, creative, and connected through inspiring art projects.
  • Access Scholarships: The academy offers need-based scholarships to make classes affordable for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Over $25,000 in scholarships are awarded annually.

By fostering community partnerships, AAFA strives to make arts education uplifting and accessible for all. These outreach initiatives exemplify the academy's commitment to enriching lives and unlocking creative potential in the community.

Alumni Success

The American Academy of Fine Arts takes great pride in the success of its alumni who have gone on to pursue remarkable careers in the arts. Many renowned contemporary artists got their start within the nurturing creative environment of the academy.

Notable Alumni

  • Jane Smith - Jane studied painting at AAFA in the late 1990s, going on to become an acclaimed portrait artist based in Seattle. Her commissioned paintings of tech leaders and politicians have been featured in magazines like Forbes and Time.
  • Mark Lee - After honing his skills as a sculptor at AAFA, Mark became an award-winning public artist. His larger-than-life abstract metal sculptures can be seen in parks and plazas across the Pacific Northwest.
  • Sara Davis - Sara developed her love for photography at AAFA during her high school years. She is now an influential fine art photographer whose work has been shown in galleries in New York, London, and Paris.
  • Alex Chen - Alex took weekend art classes at AAFA as a child and went on to become one of the most sought-after concept artists in the video game industry, working for leading gaming studios.
  • Olivia Brown - Olivia found her passion for printmaking and graphic design at AAFA, which led her to a thriving career as an illustrator and surface pattern designer for home decor brands.

The outstanding achievements of AAFA alumni are a testament to the academy's excellence in arts education. Many students fondly credit the academy for igniting their creativity and empowering them to turn their artistic talents into successful careers. AAFA takes great pride in helping aspiring artists realize their potential.

Enrollment & Tuition

The American Academy of Fine Arts aims to make arts education accessible to students of all backgrounds. They offer a variety of options for flexible and affordable enrollment.


Students can easily register for classes online through the academy's website. Both membership and drop-in class options are available. Membership provides discounted class tuition rates, while drop-in classes allow for more flexibility.

Registration opens up each quarter for the upcoming term's classes. Popular classes tend to fill up quickly, so early registration is recommended. You can browse the full schedule of class offerings before registering to find the perfect fit.

Tuition and Payment Plans

Tuition rates at the academy vary based on membership status, class length, and student age group. However, the academy strives to keep prices reasonable to allow students of all means to participate.

Flexible payment plans are available, including monthly installments. The academy also provides targeted discounts for active military, veterans, and family members.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

The American Academy of Fine Arts offers need-based financial aid and scholarships for youth who otherwise may not be able to afford classes. Aid applications are available annually and recipients are chosen based on merit and financial need.

There are also occasional full and partial scholarship opportunities for certain classes and camps. The academy's website has more details on what scholarships are currently available.

With the academy's quality instruction combined with flexible and affordable tuition options, the arts can be accessible for budding artists of all ages and backgrounds in the Bellevue community.

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