By digitizing children’s artwork from around the globe, this organization can easily share the fruits of creativity and perspective with the changemakers of the future.

Paintbrush Diplomacy is on a mission to share the power art has to enhance the cultural awareness of the next generation. Since the 1970s, the San Francisco-based nonprofit has been organizing art and culture exchanges all over the world, connecting teachers, artists, classrooms, and students to each other using art and the process of making art to start meaningful conversations and reduce harmful stereotypes.

“We believe that by interacting on a personal level with people from other cultures,” says Executive Director Leia Alex, “students of all ages will gain an international perspective and take steps toward becoming empathetic global citizens.”

Throughout its years of operation, Paintbrush Diplomacy has been collecting children’s artwork to share worldwide. The organization now boasts an extensive collection of international children’s art spanning multiple decades and global events, including more than 2,000 pieces from more than 100 countries. “There are some incredible stories told in these artworks,” Alex says, “such as experiences of the Croatian War from an eight-year-old’s perspective, or global imaginings of children for what peace could look like after 9/11.”

TOP: A watercolor on the theme of “Peace” by a first-grader in Healdsburg, California, United States.
ABOVE: A self portrait by a young artist (age 8-10 years old) in Paris, France.

Creating a Digital Legacy

The challenge, however, has been finding a way to easily share this artwork without experiencing shipping hiccups or putting a strain on resources. “It’s been a personal dream of mine to digitize this artwork,” Alex says. “For the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, these works have been kept in storage, with limited exhibition space or resources to display them in a meaningful or safe way. Digitizing them would mean the works are safe and won’t be forgotten.”

To make this dream a reality, Paintbrush Diplomacy enlisted the help of Large Document Solutions in order to create a digital archive using the Image Access WideTEK 24F flatbed scanner. With a scan area of 18”x24”, this state-of-the-art machine completes a full color 600 dpi scan in less than 4 seconds. The edge-to-edge scratch resistant glass also allows for scanning oversized originals.

ABOVE: Paintbrush Diplomacy Executive Director Leia Alex and staff use the WideTEK 24F scanner to digitize artwork.

“We were thrilled when we discovered this scanner, which is much more cost- and time-effective for us, without compromising on quality,” Alex says. The result is a digital art museum – searchable by age, country, theme, and medium – that is freely accessible to the organization’s partners, teachers, and students as a valuable educational resource so that the power of artistic expression can make an even bigger impact.

Explore more about Paintbrush Diplomacy and see their digital museum here.

Check out Large Document Solutions’ extensive selection of large format digital imaging equipment here.