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Yo Edge, are you gonna let Katto get away with spraying water on you?
Trust me, you don’t want to to question her authority…
I feel pretty compelled to write this bc I’ve been seeing some stuff on my dash lately that.. paints art schools w a pretty negative brush.
This is not going to be a woah art school is great! flawless! would recommend for everyone! kind of post because that is just as misleading as the “art schools drain your soul and crush your spirit” bee ess I see constantly.
Now, first of all, I see a lot of oversimplification when it comes to people talking about art college. Art, like any other career path, is extremely diverse. Some paths require very specific technical training (VFX, animation (especially 3D modeling), medical illustration to name a few). Other paths do not require a degree at all (fine arts, basically- and there ARE animators/illustrators who are completely self-taught).
The point of art school isn’t to get a degree. Sorry, but it’s something I firmly believe: don’t work for the grade. (And trust me, I know about GPA requirements/scholarships, holla bein’ poor).
Art school is about growing your technical/conceptual ability in a structured, stable environment where making mistakes will not cost you your career. If you miss a deadline in college, you’ll take a hit in grade and thats it. If you miss a deadline in the real world, you are jeopardizing yourself as an artist and alienating potential clients.
Art school is also about making connections that will help you succeed in your chosen industry. It’s really, really important to be able to network! And there are definitely ways you can network on your own- linkedin, facebook, tumblr etc. However, being in the college environment basically guarantees you’ll make connections and hopefully start getting your work out there- assuming you are willing to put forth the work needed to do that.
From what I’ve noticed, a lot of people seem to think art school is this free, open-ended environment where you just make whatever you like, and then your professors and classmates rip you apart.
Art school is not a free for all. Even in the fine-arts field, which is very conceptual/open minded, you are being given assignments with specific directions/requirements, and there’s a reason for that.
You see, art is about problem-solving. You have a client that wants an illustration for an article in a magazine. Your job is to come up with solutionsto the problem (in this case: a clear visual that ties in with the article). I had a very wonderful 2-D/3-D design teacher, Moe Brooker, who really emphasized this. For our final, the problem we were given was to build a chair that was 1) functional, and 2) made from ONLY cardboard, no tape/adhesives/anything else. And while we all turned in the “same” solutions in theory (a functional chair), the aesthetic choices we made to arriveat that solution are what defined our “style”.
So the assignments you are given are designed to develop your technical ability (and good teachers will focus on all aspects of technical ability), and teach you how to come up with solutions that are clear and well-thought out. You’d be surprised how many people don’t understand that a huge part of the process is simply learning how to follow the directions you are given.
That’s not to say that you wont get crummy assignments and dumb curriculum and teachers that are simply not up to par. Art colleges, just like any other program, are imperfect. There will always be that one douchey teacher that just likes to make people cry. There will always be teachers that you just dont get along with- I just had a terrible crit with a teacher I personally really like, but who didn’t particularly care for me (and in his defense, I was quite a slacker in his class!). It happens! It isn’t the end of the world if someone gets a bad impression about you- because you’re in school.
See, school is also an environment where you learn how to be professional in your interactions. That that teacher doesn’t care for me won’t impact me professionally. But if I had rubbed a client the wrong way, that could very well get me on a blacklist and make it very hard for me to be hired.
And on that note, a word on critique: critiques are meant to be tools to help you grow as an artist. Even if you prefer to be self-taught, you need feedback from other artists to grow. You cannot see all the mistakes you are making, and you can’t see all the directions you could possibly take. When a critique is done right, it is about giving constructive advice. And you do not have to listen to all of it! Sometimes, taste will be subjective, and you’ll just flat out disagree- and that’s alright! (Of course, if someone tells you “that is out of proportion” and you say “I disagree”, you might want to rethink..)
There will be bad critiques! I won’t lie about that. Sometimes, someone’s gonna take issue with you personally and take it out on you in crit. (Sometimes, that person will be the teacher. Remember, teachers are people too, and sometimes they aren’t great at their job). See what I said about the bad crit I had with my professor above. Sometimes you’ll get mad and frustrated because it seems like they just dont get what you were trying to do, and that’s okay too! It’s part of the growing process.
On a final note, remember: not all art schools are created equal. Every school has a different environment, and a different attitude. Someone who would do very well at my school may not do so well at a different school. Some schools have better programs than others (my school’s PDA/fine arts departments? Not great. But our illustration and fashion design are awesome.) If you can, visit the school you are thinking about in person. You will know right away if it’s right. I visited SVA, Uarts, Moore, Massart, RISD and many others before deciding on Moore. And I knew it would work because I felt comfortable there (whereas, for example, I’ve never felt very comfortable at SVA).
So, basically. If you want to go to art school, it’s a lot of work, and it isnt an environment for everyone. However, if you are willing to put in the work and make the commitment (and find a school whose personal environment suits your needs), you can and will succeed!
Just a little reminder to someone who once told me “you can always learn animation on your own”. Sure you can, it will just take way more time and you might end up overlooking some crucial aspects! Having teachers is greatly beneficial given they often are professionals and can give you some much needed objective criticism to help you improve. Let’s face it, the internet is not the best place to get this criticism. Schools are not perfect but some people need them. This “simple solution” is not exactly one.
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