— by Mellany Armstrong, Associate Director of Communications

Sophomore Curatorial Studies major Laila Islam created The Future Is Us Collective in 2017, when she was 16 years old, feeling that there was a lack of accessibility and inclusivity in the fine arts scene.

“I wanted to create spaces for the youth, by the youth,” she said. “I feel like a lot of talented young artists in Philadelphia never really get the chance to showcase or have a platform to show their work, mostly because of how much it costs, or they don’t feel included in spaces that usually showcase art.”

Islam serves as a curator for the collective and brings together artists, performers and musicians for exhibitions, in partnership with community organizations that provide spaces. The collective charges participants a small showcasing fee, $3 to $5, and she hopes one day to make enough money to pay herself, her co-curator and the Collective’s youth initiative organizer.

Find out more about the Collective @thefutureisuscollective.

Here is what some other students are doing as they get ready to take on the world!

  • Josh Archer, a junior Photography & Digital Arts major, started their online business, Archer Creations, while in high school. They create original typography work related to internet culture or politics to go on stickers, shirts, mugs and notebooks. They also have their own freelance photography business. Check out their art at
  • Sophomore Illustration major Bianca Console created a paleontology-themed trading card game called The Past Happened, which she sells in her Etsy store, Prehistoric Card Shop. The playing cards feature scientifically accurate dinosaurs and other extinct creatures. See Console’s work at
  • After making magic wands as gifts for friends, first-year Fine Arts major Lily Scharff launched her business, Tinkers Co., at the age of 15. Her wands feature crystals, geodes and jewels, and can be used for live-action roleplaying, cosplay and fun. She also designs sculptural pieces and jewelry. You can find her crafts at art fairs and flea markets, or see them on her Instagram: @tinkers_co.