Fine Art or Illustration?
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    lhazar's Avatar
    lhazar is offline If you read this, you're not drawing. Go! Level 3 Gladiator: Catervarii
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    Fine Art or Illustration?

    First and foremost, I want to congratulate the creators, designers, webmasters and programmers that make ConceptArt possible. I have discovered this website just recently and I am gladly impressed. Keep up the good work!

    I am in one of those moments in life where you stand in a 3-way crossroad. I come from an academic background, studying something completely different to art, and although I liked it, I have decided I like art better. But I have two choices ahead of me. Illustration or Fine Art.

    Both academic offers present me with a number of skills I want to learn. Both are equally good for me... but time is money, and I already graduated in something else... I want to switch career now. I feel I have to take the leap now or never, and make the most of it.

    Long story short, I want to be a concept designer, particularly for video games industry. I have read many artists' backgrounds, opinions and bios to know that there is no concensus as to what is better. One thing is clear: love for art and commitment. I think I have that, so I rest assured in that respect.

    Fine Art degrees have strong emphasis on different media: drawing, painting, sculpting. I want to have a strong classic background, anatomy, color theory... It all seems to be taught in Fine Art. Downside is: Will I draw enough in order to improve, or will I be caught up with assesments that have nothing to do with drawing/painting?

    Illustration degrees are more focused on drawing and painting. It is more about telling stories through images, rather than expressing the artist's soul and mind. That also attracts me. Downside is: Am I losing on 3D or classic art teaching, like anatomy or color theory?

    I wish I could combine the two, but sadly I cannot afford education for too long anymore. What are your views on the differences between the two?

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    Every school is different, but in a nutshell, I'd say you want an illustration degree. In my experience, and the experience of many who I went to school with, fine art classes are a huge waste of time. As you say, "caught up with assessments that have nothing to do with drawing/painting?", is exactly right. Classic teachings like anatomy and color theory are the very foundation of illustration and you'll see little of that in fine art (maybe in the nineteenth century, but not today).

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    Scrutinize Fine Arts programs closely if you are interested in making pictures of things. Many fine arts programs teach you to glue plastic animals together, and other such nonsense. Illustration programs aren't perfect either, but they are in many cases the lesser of two evils.

    There is a link in my sig to info on the games industry that may interest you.

    Good luck with your new career!

    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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    Maybe it's just me but why are so many people thinking that if they declare a major, they're forever locked into it like solitary confinement?

    Just because you declare one major just means there's a focus that you're going to take- it doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't take classes in the others. Heck, I highly encourage my students to get the heck off of our Illustration floor and seek out stuff in Industrial Design, Ad Design, Graphic Design, Fine Arts, Animation and anything else that interests them. It's all about your own personal growth and your personal choice for education.

    No employers look at the diploma's major much less the diploma itself! It's what's in your portfolio.

    As opposed to looking at declaring a major as a sentence, own it and get what you can out of it and take those other classes as your electives to explore your own personal vision or techniques.

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    Elwell's Avatar
    Elwell is offline Sticks Like Grim Death Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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    Also, at most four-year art schools there's some sort of shared foundation year for fine arts, illustration, and design, so even if you have to declare a major as a freshman you're not locked in.


    Tristan Elwell
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    lhazar is offline If you read this, you're not drawing. Go! Level 3 Gladiator: Catervarii
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    Yeah, maybe I should look for a school that lets me choose interesting electives. Or even one that combines a major in illustration with a minor into something else.

    For example, I would be quite interested in trying sculpture. I enjoy taking my time on a drawing to make it look 3D and believable. Indeed, it is the subjects within the degree what I am mainly looking at, rather than the degree itself.

    I am following this checklist in order to pick out the best art schools available for me. Hopefully it also helps anyone in my situation now.

    I would appreciate your feedback!

    - Study fine art
    - Study sculpting
    - Take classes on 3D modeling, both low and high poly.
    - Take classes on both traditional and digital animation (many games today still use 2D based animation).
    - Take story telling if it's offered. Or creative writing.
    - Take any classes that will offer you new tools for time management as well as people management.
    - Play as many games as you can, even the ones that do not interest you.
    - Learn how to research properly and how to record what you research.
    - Painting and drawing courses.
    - Basic design and color theory.

    (via GameCareerGuide)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Storyboard Dave View Post
    Maybe it's just me but why are so many people thinking that if they declare a major, they're forever locked into it like solitary confinement?
    Good advice, but if lhazar is in the UK the system is very different. It's a lot harder to take bits from other courses (though not impossible - it depends on the university again). It really is worth talking to the course leaders and finding out how flexible they are!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    Good advice, but if lhazar is in the UK the system is very different. It's a lot harder to take bits from other courses (though not impossible - it depends on the university again). It really is worth talking to the course leaders and finding out how flexible they are!
    Yes, I will be studying in the UK. The system is similar to the US, I think:

    - Single Honours. Just illustration, only able to pick subjects listed under Illustration.
    - Combined Honours (Joint,Minor or Major) Combines two degrees. Able to choose a varying number of modules from each, but it must fit into the schedule.

    I have found that University of East London offers great freedom when choosing different combinations.

    Solent University offers fine art/creative writing options in 2nd and 3rd years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Also, at most four-year art schools there's some sort of shared foundation year for fine arts, illustration, and design, so even if you have to declare a major as a freshman you're not locked in.
    Some schools do discourage students from venturing outside of their department. (RISD was guilty of this while I was there.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lhazar View Post
    - Study fine art
    - Study sculpting
    - Take classes on 3D modeling, both low and high poly.
    - Take classes on both traditional and digital animation (many games today still use 2D based animation).
    - Take story telling if it's offered. Or creative writing.
    - Take any classes that will offer you new tools for time management as well as people management.
    - Play as many games as you can, even the ones that do not interest you.
    - Learn how to research properly and how to record what you research.
    - Painting and drawing courses.
    - Basic design and color theory.
    Unless you are specifically interested in doing animation, or specifically interested in working on very small projects where you would potentially be the entire art team, I would say knock animation off of this list. Your competition is steep enough that too much generalization can be a waste of your time. Also, it should automatically be assumed that whenever you make models you should also be laying out UVs and texturing those models. They probably neglected to add these to the list because in the industry these things are a ďwell duhĒ, but unfortunately it isnít so obvious among students or even teachers.

    Cheers!

    [edit] Also, about playing games. Itís actually less important than they make it out. Make sure you *look at* as many games as possible. With the possible exception of level layout, you arenít studying the design, youíre studying the art; so hovering over a friendís shoulder or watching youtube play-throughs can substitute for shelling out for every new game that hits the market. Also Ė very important Ė donít get hooked on any individual game. There is no point in putting eighty hours into an MMO when you can get a good tour of the art by spending an hour watching someone else play.

    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Seedling View Post
    Some schools do discourage students from venturing outside of their department. (RISD was guilty of this while I was there.)
    Wow... I'm actually shocked to hear that about RISD.

    I don't see the relevance and rationale for it but that's my opinion for what it's worth. I guess I've always considered your collegiate years to be the perfect place to explore outside of your major, try different things, mess up royally or discover a whole new passion if it so happens.



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    I think they have some good rationale for it, and I know they also have some annoying reasons. The annoying reasons have specifically to do with the animation department: the department is not equipped to handle the mobs of illustration majors who just want to dabble. Thereís a double major (I think - one of the only double majors available, if I remember correctly) for the illustration students who are serious about animation.
    For the rest, for those who are inclined to dabble (and many are), I think RISDís rationale is pretty good: time is limited in college and itís a rough life as an art major, so the students should focus on getting their skills up to a professional level in the field they have chosen without the added distraction of glassblowing or whatever.

    That said, a few classes in other departments are required for graduation. They want students to try a few other things; they just want to keep the experience from becoming a salad bar. And you don't go into your major until your second year there. The first year is all foundation classes.

    And as I discovered, with enough legwork, I was able to get into classes in other departments that I needed Ė I just had to educate a few people in the process about what I was up to. I couldnít have casually signed up for those classes.

    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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    Take a look at the Diploma in Concept Arts for Animation and Video Games offered by Max the Mutt in Toronto. It offers a very complete program that includes in-depth training in traditional fine art drawing and painting, as well as concept specific courses, and all the computer training necessary for a career in concept art. Our web site is: www.maxthemutt.com. Tuition for the 4 year program is less than two years would be at most other schools - and this a is a quality program taught by working professionals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seedling View Post
    That said, a few classes in other departments are required for graduation. They want students to try a few other things; they just want to keep the experience from becoming a salad bar. And you don't go into your major until your second year there. The first year is all foundation classes.
    The flipside to that was when I was in school, we were almost required to take too many electives. Not that I really minded because it all added to my collegiate experience but I remember during my senior year, when I really wanted to focus on my studio classes, I ended up taking an intense English class as an elective to avoid taking two non-major studio electives.

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    it may help to have an understanding of what fine art is...

    go to a book store and pick out the following magazines:

    fine art: art in america, artforum, modern painters, typically anything in the art section of major newspapers and weekly mags like time.

    illustration: communication arts illustration annual. juxtapoz.

    entertainment/concept typically falls in a subcategory within illustration for most schools but not necessarily. mags include: spectrum. imaginefx. anything on this site.

    it's complicated because for example people in the juxtapoz crowd see themselves as fine-artists... but people in 'real' fine art (whatever it is) would disagree.

    i don't care for such distinctions but you should have an idea what you're getting into. put in the legwork. research. it's not that hard.

    steve

    p.s. look at the work but also think about the lifestyle/day-to-day/individual needs aspect. you might like guns and robots but chafe at the idea of being an employee. you may hate everything about fine-art visually but love the intellectual aspects and the freedom involved. just because you choose a certain sphere doesn't mean you have to play by their rules.

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    The term "fine art" belongs as much to art that is based on traditional representational fine art skills as it does to post modernism and so called "conceptual art."

    I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that what you mean to point out is that fine art is a term that can mean almost anything,and the potential students needs to really look into the programs. There are still fine art schools that teach life drawing, perspective, and painting. However some schools have no respect for these skills. I've had BFA's who couldn't draw or paint an apple to save themselves. I also know MFA's who in my opinion are visually illiterate. They didn't understand things abstract artists used to know, such as how to keep the surface illusion flat, and how to do the opposite- create the illusion of space. No one wanted to interfere with their creativity by burdening them with the language of western representational art.

    However, I gather just from reading the threads on this site, there are still several excellent fine art programs in the USA.

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    this thread was EXACTLY what has been on my mind for the past few weeks. fine art or Illo? right now i'm up in the air about Fine Art at University of Houston or Illo at CCAD and so far this thread has proved to be very informative in terms of the opinions stated thus far.

    i'm not too enthralled myself to glue random things together to make an animal collage *insert pun here!!* i have a hard time seeing how the fine art program can help the conceptual artist? can anyone shed more light on this? i'm truly curious...cuz like the classes i've seen so far at UofH dont seem very helpful overall IMO for the concept artist.

    jus trying to weigh my options before i make a big move as well.

    Last edited by Shin-Kensou; November 3rd, 2007 at 02:52 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shin-Kensou View Post
    this thread was EXACTLY what has been on my mind for the past few weeks. BFA or Illo? right now i'm up in the air about a BFA at University of Houston or Illo at CCAD
    Just to clarify, the degree that you would receive from most four-year illustration programs is a BFA.

    Last edited by Elwell; November 3rd, 2007 at 02:16 AM.

    Tristan Elwell
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Just to clarify, the degree that you would receive from most four-year illustration programs is a BFA.
    clarification noted...apologies on the mix up.

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    the school i go to is a fine arts school... but they have a concentration in illustration. you may want to look at schools like that.

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    You are an inspiration. First time poster woo!

    I'm currently doing Multimedia Design. I am into my second year now, but i don't know, i love drawing and arts and i miss it everyday because i'm not doing it. I was doing Industrial Design, it involved designing and drawing, but it wasn't enough.

    I'm not sure as to my future career but im thinking of finishing my MD course, then maybe take up another after it. But like you said, i don't know any places in Australia, Victoria that take courses such as illustration and FA.

    I love designing characters for books, games, magazines and possibly for CGI movies what category would that fall under?

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