ORLANDO -

A career as an artist can begin at any age, and from any place and background.

Orlando's downtown art scene has a place that is nurturing the talent on younger artists.

Mentoring young artists is a lifelong dream of Tre Harris of the Young Artists Group.

"I block out the edges and it makes it look a lot more professional," said Harris.

High school students meet monthly at City Arts Factory, in which they can paint, cut, create and aspire to a career in the arts.

Part of Harris' job, he said, is teaching the practical side to the business.

"You might have that one person who comes in and buy everything and you're like 'Awesome, but now I have no more art,'" said Harris. "I've noticed certain forms of mixed media allow you to get a lot quicker basically."

The Young Artists Group is free thanks to the mayor's matching grant program, as well as sponsorship from Bloomingdale's and Sam Flax.

Megan Campbell, 16, said she started coming to City Arts Factory last fall. She said connecting and sharing techniques makes everyone better.

"I apply it to my style, like I do photograph, and even though we paint a lot, I can apply some of the mixed media to do photography," said Campbell.

Harris said part of his pay off is when some of the regular students begin to see their pay off.

"There's one artist right now, Chris Hardy, who's now taken off," said Harris. "He's doing collaborations with other artists. I know he's selling probably every single month."

When Harris was growing up, he said there were no organizations like Young Artists Group," and that fuels his commitment to the group.

"Especially in a town like Orlando," said Harris. "I feel like there are not enough people who take out enough time with young people to show them things."

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