Should you attend art school?

So you like to draw or design? Don’t know what to do with it? Should you go to school or just learn it on your own?

I think you should go to school. And I’m not saying this because your work or skills are not great, but I’m saying this because schooling provides the artist a foundation for success. Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. If you’re an artist wanting to take your art to the next level– to make it your livelihood and really prosper from it not just financially but to grow creatively – then you my friend need to hunker down and do your research on some great schools that offer the best learning for what you want to do with your life. And take your time, make sure it’s what you want and will be ultimately happy in doing so.

On the flip side I do know a few friends and acquaintances who got by with a year or two of training or hardly any schooling at all and make a good living out of doing/selling their art. But I prefer the latter. Attending art school has so many benefits, at least from my experience it was a valuable time for me. I’ve gotten the opportunity to learn from some of the best teachers in the industry that I want to work in, not only that but the feedback I got on how to improve my work was exactly what I needed to learn. And I met some of my bestest friends in art school. The connections you make while you are studying goes a long way, you never know if that person can connect you with other people to work with in the future. And you get to learn from other people and see how they approach things creatively, sharing techniques, ideas, and interests. I have grown from the connections I’ve made, the friends that I met and still keep in touch with many of them, their feedback was helpful and life-changing. The reality of an artist’s life is very lonely, since we work on projects alone for long periods of time, that its great to connect with other artists who are on a similar path. In a way it provides us with some support.

And you may not like this, but let’s face it– you need DISCIPLINE. Without it you won’t be able to finish projects or keep track of them. Like the real world, when you’re ready to plunge into it and either work within a company or decide to go the freelance route– you’re going to need to finish projects by the deadline.

Explore your options. Going to art school allows you to explore other methods of doing things, challenging your creativity to think outside the box. And you want this. If you are to grow as an artist and sharpen the skill set in your toolbox, you need to learn many things. You can explore different mediums, other styles, other processes, etc. I have been going to school for what seems like a very long time! Believe me, it was no picnic! I started going to an interior design school for two years and for the first time learned to draw, that was in 2002. Then deciding that I couldn’t see myself having a career as an interior designer, it felt limiting at that time. Then I found another school and focused on Graphic Design and it felt right as I still work in the industry doing design, marketing, branding, and web, that was in 2007. But working in that industry for two years I wasn’t satisfied I want to get better, learn new things. And that’s when I enrolled at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and joined the MFA Illustration program in 2009. My first semester there, my mind was blown– it was the first time I learned about Visual Development for Animation and I quickly changed my major to that. It was a great fit and I didn’t even know I wanted it before then but once I learned what it was, I was hooked! I finally found something that I think will help me to continue on growing as an artist. Four years later, here I am going to graduate in the fall and working on my thesis. It takes a long time! I started late but better late than never. I’m 31, and I have a ten year old son at home. Single mom trying to do everything, that hasn’t ever hindered me from pursuing my dreams.

MY POINT IS: we don’t need to have all the answers right away, just a drive, an ambition, a passion to pursue something great. And the rest happens through DOING and learning hands on. I always say that experience is the best teacher in life. Trial and error, if you end up not liking it then you can always do something else, instead of sitting there and wondering what if I had done this?

I come across so many young artists now who appreciate my work and wonder how I got here… HARD WORK. There is no other answer but that. There are no shortcuts either.  The motivation and drive to want to get better, to be better. The perseverance, will, and determination to be awesome. When you do decide to put in all that hard work and all those hours spent behind your desk, you’ll start noticing that you’re improving. Hard work pays off. There comes a moment, a pivotal time, a crossroads, or even a self-realization in an artist that you are a CREATOR and an unstoppable force when you decide to engage and toil away at perfecting your craft and skill set. It will show in your work. I know that this realization came when I stopped going out on the weekends and put outside distraction away and spent my weekends working diligently perfecting my drawings.

Whether you are a young artist or a seasoned professional, training allows you to acquire new skills. Talent means nothing when there is no commitment or discipline to your work. Stay consistent and focused on your work and doing your best.

And if I don’t sway you otherwise, here is a good article I found called 7 Reasons to go to art school  this person had the same idea as me and explains it well. Great minds think alike.

I bid you well and good luck!


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