Our Creative Team of Instructors


Yvette Contois; Founder/Director and Art Instructor

With an early love for Art and Art Education, Yvette began her formal education in Philadelphia, starting as a high school student attending Moore College of Art. She went on to receive her Degree in Visual Communications & Graphic Design at The Art Institute of Philadelphia and soon after, received her BFA & K-12 Art Teaching Certification from Rosemont College, PA.

Yvette has been giving art lessons to adults & children since 1990. Her guiding passion is bringing art into the lives of her students. You will also find her teaching art at the Cabrillo College Stroke Center and at Santa Cruz Montessori. When not in the studio/classroom, Yvette continues her freelance career as a technical illustrator and commercial artist.

The Art Factory has been Yvette’s creative vision, long before it opened in the Spring of 2009. She enjoys the studio’s continual growth and looks forward to the future expansion of it’s programs, to serve more of our county’s youth, teen and adult community.

Abbey Andersen; Art Instructor

As a kid growing up just outside of Portland, Oregon, Abbey loved learning about animals and loved sketching them all over her homework papers. She took her passion for drawing to the art department at Humboldt State University, where she earned a degree in Art and Creative Writing.

As an illustrator, she specializes in “garden portraiture” with her own line of heirloom vegetable pun prints. Abbey enjoys all forms of art, from ceramics and colored pencil drawings to cake decorating and sewing projects, writing children’s stories and ukulele-ing.

She shares her love of nature and art with her students each week here at the studio!

Patty Freedman; Sewing Instructor

Patty Freedman, MA has been an educator for 20 years. She is an award winning credentialed K-12 master teacher. Patty has worked with kids imagination and creativity teaching drama, crafts and hands-on science.  She is a homeschooling mom of two children and travels around the world with them on learning adventures.  Patty blogs and speaks internationally to parents and teachers about raising children who make a positive difference. We are thrilled to have her as a part of our creative learning environment!

Valerie Phipps; Sewing and Art Instructor

Valerie is a self taught artist/seamstress of 25 years. Quilting, weaving, Ai-zome indigo dyeing and felting are just a few of the art forms she brings to the studio. She loves to use salvaged and eco friendly materials to create re-purposed, one of a kind pieces of wearable art.

Her daughter, Ayanna Edin, is her true muse. While Valerie has enjoyed many years as a preschool teacher, she finds that having her own child has brought her into a child’s world more than ever. Valerie enjoys sharing the love of art and creating with the youth here at the Art Factory and throughout our community!

Rachel Surgalski; Art Instructor

Rachel is and artist and student at Cabrillo College. Most recently, her artwork has been featured in the feminist literary anthology “Persephone’s Daughters”, along with her writing. She is a strong advocate for the arts and has a passion for teaching. Although Rachel has an affection for the fine arts (particularly pointillism), she is also devoted to pursuing a future in music, film, and literature. Most of all, she wants to be an encouragement to her students--to let them know that they are important and are capable of creating beautiful things. We love having her creative, thoughtful guidance in our elementary community.