The Waukesha native is the new owner of Otto’s Fine Art Academy
WAUKESHA — Melissa Hillmer never imagined she would own an art school. Originally from Waukesha and a recent college graduate, she has had an interest in art since she was a child. Hillmer, a substitute teacher for the Waukesha School District, can now add the owner of Otto’s Fine Art Academy to her resume. Otto’s Fine Art Academy, 312 W. Broadway, was established in 2004 for children and young adults to further their art education and fine art skills. “I’ve worked here since 2012,” Hillmer said. “I worked for Monica Otto; she was my teacher when I was a little girl. I think that inspired me to be an artist and a teacher.” Otto’s offers a program where everyone starts with the basics. The program is fundamental, so everyone will eventually know how to draw and later can move on to pastels and charcoals and painting.
“There are teenagers coming here looking to go to college for the arts and to grow their portfolio,” Hillmer said. Over the years, Otto’s students have followed artistic career paths such as printmaking, painting, animation, filmmaking and teaching. Students enroll from all over southeast Wisconsin including Waukesha, Brookfield, New Berlin, Delafield, Oconomowoc, Wauwatosa, Milwaukee, Greendale, Whitefish Bay, Cedarburg, Lake Geneva, and more. What’s interesting about Otto’s is that ownership passed to three women, Monica Otto, Megan David and Hillmer. Otto was the first owner, then David and more recently Hillmer. “I think there’s something really unique about this business because it changed hands between three independent female owners of this school,” Hillmer said. “I think it’s very special about this place.” In the future, Hillmer would like to see more locations from Otto. “I think there are underserved arts communities in the area and Otto’s would do very well in Milwaukee, Madison or even West Bend,” Hillmer said. “He has to be anchored in Waukesha. I have to do it here for a while.” “I love it,” Hillmer said. “Of all the things that could have happened, I think this is what had to happen.” For more information, visit www.ottosartacademy.com.