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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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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.
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.
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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"Work is more fun than fun."
"Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
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.
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
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.
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.
I'm becoming more of a renissance man every day.
Yea i'm that awesome.
The lord is my light and salvation-so why should I be afraid?-Psalm 27:1
Jesus said,"Stop your doubting and believe!"-John 20:27
God has said,"I will never, never fail you nor forsake you."-Hebrews 13:5
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.
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.
awesome tips..this is a great sticky. thanks for the heads up
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.
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.
taking some basic courses at CCAD this fall and applying to Ringling again in the spring. Needless to say, my first "SAIC-style" portfolio didn't fly. Well, it did for SAIC :p
I feel like, after reading this, that i shouldn't be quite so hell-bent on getting into Ringling. I fully anticipate a stressful workload and many long nights, but I'm psyched to hit the ground running. Self destructive? Perhaps, but I know how badly I want it, and that's all the motivation in the world. Now I'm just wondering if I'm following a wise path by pursuing Ringling.
I hope this isn't the wrong place for this sort of feedback/question D:
If you're going to get a loan, think it over very carefully. You can refinance your home loan, you cannot refinance your school loan. The loan officers are usually there and give the school kickbacks to make them a priority to approach you when going to school. So just because they seem friendly, doesn't mean they have your best interests at heart. Don't be afraid to shop around for a school loan, and watch those interest rates. Once you're locked into a rate, you can't change it.
20. Take classes with instructors who are working IN THE FIELD. Why take classes from pepole who espouse theory and can't really make a living beyond the classroom? Theory and opinion are wonderful to push the bounds of creativity but one also has to have a practicality about a career in art. Good classes with instructors who have merged their creative sides and business aspects are worth their weight in gold. They are literally bringing in fresh up-to-date experiences to the classroom as well. Don't be afraid to ask what projects they're working on and ask to see them.
21. Prior to graduation, make sure your portfolio is relevant to the industry you plan on going into. All of those school assignments are exercises if they don't fit within a prospective employer's needs or comfort zone. In essence, they need to make a buck off of your talents and if your book isn't fit their needs, it doesn't mean that you're not talented but your portfolio just doesn't reflect what they're looking for.
Thank you , as I enter my sophomore year in high school, I am deciding to step head into art as a major, though My mom discourages it she did the same thing. I must ask though, do teachers from you high school , I mean can the help me in any way like reccomendations. And I now know, that I have to put my nose to teh grindstone now, and pick it up with the encroaching years of college, that way tranistion would be easier, well easier in a way that I will be able to get the best education from these schools. I must ask though , what are the negatives of majoring in Art of any study be it general , computer, and what not?
Ev'sSketchbook for the lazy minded but willing!
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Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!
"Work is more fun than fun."
"Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
One small addition to this if I may...
If you plan on teaching art at the elementary or secondary level you will need at least a B.A. in art.
As the ego shrinks, so the spirit expands.
I graduated from RSAD with a BFA in Illustration over a year ago expecting to get a job in the entertainment industry just like that. I was wrong. I thought I was talented and I was headstrong. After all I had learned at art school, about art theory, I never learned to network. I was fortunate enough to get a second chance. I found a graduate program at the University of Central Florida's School of Film and Digital Media called FIEA, do a google search on it, you wont be dissapointed. Anyway, to make a long story short, I have been attending this school for just over a year an I already have a job with EA doing concept. Why, you ask? Because I learned to network and work well with other people, and I finally got a website with my portfolio up. I agree 110% with Jason; school is what you make of it. If you are going to the best art school and expecting the professors to spoon feed you and by some form of magic you will be great, you are wrong. Drive yourself to be the best and focus on your goals with all of your heart (network with your professors and friends; they will be working in the industry one day too) and you will get that job. Believe me when I say this: you can be the most talented artist in the world, and without good networking skills, a will to learn and a good attitude, you wont get very far.
I guess the whole point of this is that school and your life, is what you make of it. Put in the effort when you go to school, you will be glad you did.
My online portfolio: http://www.chrishapner.com
Everything Jason said is 100 % on the mark, I think I am currently in the percentile that have fallen off the map, everything now is catch up time...
if we all had fore sight, maybe all would be better but we don't, so please really pay attention to what he and others here say because it is the best advice and you may, if you don't listen and understand, end up like me with only hindsight...
you will find time to enjoy your college, or after high school life, the harder you work the more pleasure you will get out of your free time
illustration web space:
general portfolio website:
careful, if you click on the sketch book link while you are viewing my ca sketchbook you might get stuck in a causality loop
Wanted to say thanks for an excellent thread As I'm a junior in high school and seriously looking into going to an art college, this really is like gold
this is helpfull and giveing me alot to think about.
23. make sure your ready when you do go. do go becuase you think you have to go school. and have some idea of why you want to go there.
i went when i was 19 i was accepted when i was 16. i went there for graphic design. i didnt draw or do any art for a the whole year after h.s. befor i went. i was not ready to be there i half assed it and i found out i really dont like doing graphic design.
now i think im ready so i might go back.
I think the reality is, if you go to one of those $100,000 schools, and you're not a trust fund baby and scholarships are hard to come by.......you'll be paying over a $ 1,000 a month for over the next ten years....regardless if you're successful or not.
So, at the very least, make certain you know what you want and that you're prepared before hand before you go.........assuming you're 'not' a trust fund baby with overly privileged upbringing and you think you're God's gift to the world and stuff like that.
Wanna know how much Art College Directors get Paid?
Type in Art Center College of Design or California Institute of the Arts, even Laguna College.
Maybe that's not the best way to determine if a school has its best interest in you, but maybe
it's an indicator?
Maybe they want to buy a 50,000,0000 dollar building with that money?
Last edited by NoSeRider; June 11th, 2008 at 09:31 PM.
Great thread. I haven't read every single post, but some of it has some excellent advice. I found this site because of the Ringling 2008 hopefuls thread, but now I'm finding there's other good info and food for thought in these forums too. (So thanks, everyone!)
I had something more wordy to say, but I'll try to boil it down to one concept in response to some of these other posts:
Yes, education depends a lot on what you make of it. But if you don't have those opportunities you need in the first place, then it doesn't matter how hard you work your ass off. Everyone likes to believe that the "America Dream" is true. That if you work hard you can get anywhere and be successful no matter what. Unfortunately, most of it depends on luck and what opportunities you're given to start off. If you live in a crap area that doesn't care much about art and your community college doesn't have a decent art program (like mine), then no amount of effort you put in will get you very far.
I guess my point is that you have to get somewhere that will allow you have opportunities. Some of us don't need higher education because there are already doors that are just waiting to be opened with that extra effort. Just don't assume that there's already doors waiting for everyone. For some of us, art school (or other types of education) is what we need to open up more paths that wouldn't otherwise be available.
What you make of something and how hard you work is indeed very important, yet it won't automatically grant you success. (A college degree isn't some magic answer either, so this goes both ways.) What I think is most important is determining first what will get you to a point where you'll find opportunities, then making the best of what you have open to you.
Working hard without opportunities is just as bad as slacking off when you have opportunities. Hopefully that makes some sense... I guess I got a little wordy after all.
Last edited by CheesecakeBree; December 25th, 2007 at 08:54 PM.
In reference to the original post in this thread... I think it is important to point out that Jason is not successful *because* he doesn't have a degree.
He is successful in spite of the fact that he doesn't have one. There is a big difference.
The truth of the matter is that most of the individuals in a position of creative leadership in the industry *do* have a degree.
A complete college education prepares you for a career... not just a job.
Degrees do mean "jack squat" to an artist and to the people who hire artists.
I would also like to respectfully disagree with the statement that "95% of what can be found at the big art schools can be found at the state and community college level."
Depending on the school and the major within the school, this simply isn't true. I also find it somewhat irresponsible
to then go on and basically make a shameless sales plug by trying to sell Conceptart.org workshops to make up the missing 5%.
There are a lot of high school students that read these forums and I think that we should be careful here.
It's fine that Jason's personal opinion is that you should go to community college and take Conceptart.org workshops.
But placing it as a sticky post called "The Reality of Going to Art School and a basic FAQ for those considering it"
lends a credibility to that first post that goes beyond individual perspective, and students who weigh that too heavily
could possibly make decisions that might negatively affect their future professional lives.
Last edited by jmccampb; November 26th, 2007 at 05:00 PM.
Spectacular thread people! Thank you all for contributing.
Found a top 10 list on art schools.
In a totally fair world, only the best get hired and move to the top of the food chain, but alas- this isn't always a fair world.