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  1. #1
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    The Reality of Going to Art School and a basic FAQ for those considering it.

    Every year, this forum is filled with posts and comments about the realities of going to art school. I thought it would be smart to build up an FAQ for those who are going to be attending, created by those who have attended art school already (ie an faq which is created by people who have experience).

    I will start.


    1. Where you choose to go to art school is less important than bringing an attitude of "doing whatever it takes" to learn about art to where you are studying.

    2. If you go to a big name school and just do the assignments, you will leave school with very little of value.

    3. If you go to a little bitty school that anyone could afford and no one ever heard of but work your ass off, you will end up miles ahead of the brats at the art schools who are only doing their assignments and the normal minimal workload art schools require.

    4. The schools will not hand feed you the information. You will have to take it from them. If one instructor doesnt know the answers, go find another one and get the answers from them. My best biz advice came from my illustration teacher and from the teacher who helped me to learn color theory. You never know who will have the answers...but you must push to find the questions that need to be asked. Dont expect it to be given to you with a silver spoon. It does not work that way.

    5. What you do outside of school (outside of the student assignments and on top of the student assignments) is what will get you where you need to be. After school you will work four times harder than you did in art school so you might as well pick up the pace your freshman year and push as hard as you can.


    6. One does not have to spend 100,000 dollars (which is what most end up spending after their loans are paid off) in order to get a great education.

    7. 95 percent of what can be found at the big art schools can be found at the state and community college level and the other five percent (specific connections and work experience) can be found in places like conceptart.org (see employment section) and cgsociety amongst others. Of course one's major area of study will dictate where they must go to find the information. If any information is lacking from the less expensive education route it can be supplimented with great programs like the Illustration Academy and or the ConceptArt.Org workshops.

    8. Degrees mean jack squat to an artist unless they plan on working overseas (required for the visa) or teaching full time at the university level. No one in my entire career has ever asked if I graduated from college. I didn't...but I did do six successive years in art school. I did not even graduate from high school. Now I own two international art companies which lead in their respective fields. However, my education was valuable. But, one can be educated away from a degree system and end up just fine. Degrees in art are mostly for pleasing your parents.

    9. Art school is a blast. Don't let it distract you from being as great as you can be. Becoming a professional artist takes nose to the grindstone work. Art school can distract from that (oh it is so tempting to go to those all night parties where all sorts of debauchery is happening) but limit yourself there...if you are going to art school..spend the time doing art.

    10. Art school recruiters will say anything they think you want to hear in order to get you to go. The best way to find out the truth about where you are going to study is to visit the school.

    11. Ask to see the faculty work of those whom you will study under. If you blindly attend because of reputation you may find that you have instructors who cannot do anything of the sort that you wish to learn yourself. ie if your instructor is a fine artist who makes everything out of balls of rice, you are going to have a very hard time learning composition and color theory from them. Find out who you are studying under before you spend six figures on an education...that even applies to the more affordable solutions at the state or community level.



    what else??....I will leave it to the rest of you to add your thoughts.

    Hope this is some help to those who are getting started.

    Last edited by Jason Manley; July 21st, 2007 at 08:22 AM.
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  4. #2
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    Jason, this is pure gold! Thank you for posting this!

    12. Set your own goals and make sure that your education gets you there, even if you go to a big-cost-big-reputation school. No matter where you study, you will have teachers who have different goals for you. Make sure those goals do not conflict with or distract from your own goals. Use every assignment, no matter how seemingly unrelated, to get where you want to be. Always ask yourself “how can I use this assignment to my advantage?”

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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  6. #3
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    Bless you, Jason. Everything you are saying is the reason Max the Mutt got started, out of my studio, in response to a need for people to learn meat and potatoes, real skills. I would only add that prospective students should look at year end shows, and ask to speak to current students and grads. Those who are lucky, who are self motivated, work hard,and attend a school with a good curriculum and good instruction will learn more in a shorter time than those of us who had to piece it together. However, the passion to learn, especially with the wealth of information available today, gives everyone a chance to put the pieces together.

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    13. Don't necessarily be put off by the retail price of art schools. There are a limited number of really good prospective students and a huge number of schools competing for them. A good school's reputation is based to a large part on the success of its alumni, so it's a good investment for them to offer scholarships to their most promising prospects. Apply to a bunch of schools, and see who offers you the best aid package. If your first choice is still the most expensive, and you're really good, you may be able negotiate if another school is offering more. This is the value of having a killer portfolio. Getting into art school is relatively easy, paying for it is hard.

    14. Compare departments/programs, not schools. Every school will be weaker in some areas and stronger in others. Some community colleges, state universities, and liberal arts schools have unusually strong programs in a particular field. Some school's reputations are based more on their graduate programs than undergraduate.

    Last edited by Elwell; July 21st, 2007 at 09:57 PM.

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  10. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    14. Compare departments/programs, not schools. Every school will be weaker in some areas and stronger in others. Some community colleges, state universities, and liberal arts schools have unusually strong programs in a particular field. Some school's reputations are based more on their graduate programs than undergraduate.
    I think this list needs some reworking to emphasise the knowledge and experience put into it. I fully agree with Jason's point about the relative merits of art school and I believe this holds for any other school. School offers the opportunity to learn, while the student must grasp this opportunity. Opportunitites not taken are lost, while opportunuties may be lurking everywhere for those talented.

    However, this doesn't mean that art school has nothing to offer, or that it doesn't matter which school you visit, and this is where item 14. comes in. I wouldn't mind if this one could receive some more attention. I decided to go back to school, and I'm currently working on a shortlist of art schools. It's not exactly easy to find out what schools have strong programs, or offer the best bang for the buck. Some suggestions in this direction may be a nice supplement for this list.

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    dude u are awesome....and this information is seriously pure gold =]
    I am going to see my counselor for the 1st time at my community college i just registered......and now I know exactly wut to ask him/her.....and im gonna ask for names of teachers and art instructors i can speak to....cuz honestly the only thing i know about my community college is the reputation of art programs and the partnership they just opened up recently with Pasadena art center, a school ive been lookin into =]

    thank you so much

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    As far as scholarships go... follow Elwell's advice! Seriously! If the school you really want to go to gives you a nice aid package but it is just not enough there are still some things you can do. Try adding up the scholarships from other schools, then telling your choice school the sum amount.

    Example: You applied to Artschool1, Artschool2, Artschool3, and Artschool4, but you really only want to go to Artschool2. Let's say each school gave you about $10,000 in scholarship money. Try adding up the scholarship money from the other schools, then calling up Artschool2 and telling them "I really appreciate your offer of $10,000 but I just don't think that would make it do-able for me. I've been offered $30,000 by other schools..."

    Don't be afraid to call your admissions rep and ask them all sorts of questions. If they get to know you on a first-name basis they will remember you and possibly reccomend you for more scholarship money. ...possibly.

    Also, you could try starting a bidding war between two different art schools. (but in order for it to work out they both have to REALLY want you, and you have to be super-polite and discreet) I did this between MICA and SCAD, and I was eventually able to get MICA to give me enough scholarship money to make attending possible, but it was SUPER SUPER stressful.


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    15.Have fun along the way !

    16. Get out and experience things other than art, broaden your horizon's, do things you have never done.

    17. Take risks! You do not serve anyone by playing it safe or staying on the same straight road.

    my 2 cents that work wonders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by supermark View Post
    15.Have fun along the way !

    16. Get out and experience things other than art, broaden your horizon's, do things you have never done.

    17. Take risks! You do not serve anyone by playing it safe or staying on the same straight road.

    my 2 cents that work wonders.

    16. I cannot agree more, goto gallery openings, goto experimental theatre productions, see music you normally would go see, try differnt art forms, you never know what you will experience. Bring it all in and embrace it. Art is culture, art makes culture.

    17. Again I agree, I took a blind dive in to more than one art form and found I loved it, I hated it but I loved the outcome enough to continue to do it.
    Also dont take just the required courses, if there is a course you want to take, take it. I didnt like one of my required courses so I didnt take it (I made that clear to the head of my department and she was about and realized I wanted, and had a focus already and she let me buck the system and take the course for credit in place of the other one. I also did that with courses other than my major. So basically get to know your advisors, teachers, and department heads. Dont be afraid to make something yours and just do what you gotta do, make waves.

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    18. If you go to a community college first, take all the possible liberal arts electives as well as your math, science, and english so that when you go to the expensive art school you can take cool elective classes like print making or sculpture or head painting or storyboarding while everyone else is in sociology for artists or some shit. There is no point to pay for basic math 101 in art school if you can get it done for 300 bones at the community college first.

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    awesome tips..this is a great sticky. thanks for the heads up

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    Much agreed to number 18. There's a part of me that wishes I had done that. I'm sure it's not true for all art schools, but there are some that'll even take transfer credits for basic courses (basic drawing, figure, 2D and 3D design, etc). A number of the people who I've met online that were accepted to Ringling only last year are transferring in at sophomore status, and that's a seriously big chunk of change that they will save.

    Also, don't be afraid to go for the non-art scholarships. I surprisingly managed to scrape up around 2k in non-art scholarships; one even came from my community hospital. Who would have thought that they'd offer a scholarship to someone not entering the medical field? Free money is everywhere! Actively seek it.

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    19. Perhaps eighty percent of the students in art school end up achieving very little with their work after they "graduate".

    If you took one hundred students from a given program, you would find that perhaps one or two did something significant with their work in the years after graduation. Perhaps another three or four will have good success, another fifteen or so will have something of a career and the rest are going to completely fall off the map. It doesn't matter if you go to Art Center or if you go to Boondocks University. The simple fact is, very few within any given student body put the effort into reaching success that they should or could. The question is...which side of the statistical fence will you land?

    Recruiters will tell you otherwise. They will say they have a ninety percent placement rate or so. That simply is not the case. Unless, one counts getting a job at the local tshirt printing company for ten dollars an hour "placement".

    Moral of the story...WORK YOUR ASS OFF so you are get more than a statistic out of the huge investment in your tuition and expenses during school.

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