Going back to school?

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  1. #1
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    Going back to school?

    I'm posting this here, feel free to move it if necessary.

    A bit of advice possibly from people who are in my situation or had been in this situation.

    I went to college for communications, I have a 9-5 job in which I spend all day in a cubicle, have you seen office space, umm yea. The job is fine, unsatisfying to say the least, but it has allowed me to pay back the Corvette size debt I had in loans. I've loved art in some facet for as long as I can remember.. For foolish reasons, I never really saw art as a potential career, I lacked confidence in my work, which as I see now was due to a lack of dedication to the craft.

    Well things have changed. More and more I find myself hunched over my laptop scratching away on my tablet till the wee hours in the morning, forgoing the bars and social scenes that would occupy my Saturday nights. Creation, discovery, and seeing the progress is the greatest drug, and I am addicted.

    I would consider myself an "intermediate artist" and would like to go back to school, I WANT TO LEARN! Thank god for places like concept art and I try to absorb as much information from this site as possible, and the results can be seen. Should I start from scratch? Do i really need all those 100 level art classes? Should I try and pick which classes to enroll in ie. color theory, life drawing? Would just taking individual classes that I am interested in be benifitial, or as a self taught artist would I be lost in the terms and theories that were taught in previous classes? Or should I just keep chugging along painting and practicing teaching myself, albeit in many cases the "wrong way"?

    Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

    Last edited by t i m; April 14th, 2008 at 06:43 PM.
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  3. #2
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    I just looked at your sketch book. Did you teach yourself all of this or have you had some classes? Your work shows a good feeling for the human form and has a sense of energy.

    The benefits of school are only benefits if you go someplace that really teaches traditional skills. One can teach oneself, but access to models, casts, skeletons and, if it's a good school, direction, are hard to come by. It can take much longer to put everything together on your own. If you attend a good concept art program, in addition to fine art training you should also have access to industry professionals who will teach industry specific courses, such as environment and level design. Again, you can teach yourself or take assorted courses to get the range of skills you'll need. You definitely can get there, but it may take longer. If your foundation is strong, you won't need year one courses. If it isn't, it's worth taking the time to build skills. However, i gather that it's difficult to find programs that teach traditional fine art and illustration skills.

    If you do decide to go to school, do your research!

    Last edited by Maxine Schacker; April 14th, 2008 at 08:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxine Schacker View Post
    I just looked at your sketch book. Did you teach yourself all of this or have you had some classes? Your work shows a good feeling for the human form and has a sense of energy.

    The benefits of school are only benefits if you go someplace that really teaches traditional skills. One can teach oneself, but access to models, casts, skeletons and, if it's a good school, direction, are hard to come by. It can take much longer to put everything together on your own. If you attend a good concept art program, in addition to fine art training you should also have access to industry professionals who will teach industry specific courses, such as environment and level design. Again, you can teach yourself or take assorted courses to get the range of skills you'll need. You definitely can get there, but it may take longer. If your foundation is strong, you won't need year one courses. If it isn't, it's worth taking the time to build skills. However, i gather that it's difficult to find programs that teach traditional fine art and illustration skills.

    If you do decide to go to school, do your research!

    I appreciate the advice Maxine,

    The last art class I took was sophmore year of highschool,everything I know was from practice, trial and error, and seaking out tutorials and information by means such as the library, fellow artists, and the web. Growing up I read tons of comics, and I would read them based on if I liked the art or not. I would study my favorite artists such as: Jim Lee, Simon Bisley, Sam Keith, and my favorite Cam Kennedy.

    There are many fundamentals I need extensive work on. For example a class on perspective would help me immensely. My enviro's are weak, and my understanding in perspective is mediocre at best. Growing up the pencil and pen were my main tools, subsequently color theory and how color can make or break a piece is something I would love to get stronger on. I can emulate or follow by example no problem, however strategic placement of color and there effect to a piece of my own is a different story. Composition, Kev Ferrara has a great thread in another part of this site, where he is having a discussion about all the hidden nuances that a good artist puts into achieving a good compostion. Excellent read, but a bit over my head. A semester long class that would talk extensively about this would be very benefitial.

    A good amount of research and asking these types of questions to potential schools would be the best bet, however I'm worried they'd tell me anything to get that tuition check which is why I turned to you guys for advice.

    Last edited by t i m; April 14th, 2008 at 11:11 PM.
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    I don't think you need an art school unless you want to learn technical stuffs such as terms, softwares, pipelines, or business stuff. You should probably find some local artist groups to be "in the environment" and in touch, but if you've come this far just by teaching yourself all you need is advices and pointers you can get from people here.

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    Well, I'm the Director of Max the Mutt, and, speaking for us, we've built our school on our reputation for integrity. I was out of touch with what has happened to education, even though I'd been teaching art part time at Sheridan for years (I taught painting in the Illustration program, and life drawing in the animation department and spent most of my time in my studio painting).

    Max the Mutt happened, and we ended up with a school because we cared about a skill base we felt was disappearing - traditional fine art and animation skills. For me it was the love of figure drawing, anatomy and painting. For Tina Seemann, it was cartooning and character design and a real love and understanding of good film making. Like minded people were attracted to us and what we were trying to do. We wanted to make a fair living doing what we love. We've been growing ever since.

    It wouldn't be worth doing and it wouldn't be satisfying if we didn't all care. There are people, you know, who want to spend their time doing something they care about. Not everyone is motivated more by $ than anything else.


    When I was young, by the way, we trusted the schools we applied to. We never questioned their interest in educating us. Colleges and universities weren't perceived primarily as "businesses" with a profit motive.

    Now the whole system seems distorted to me. Including education loans which shouldn't be in the hands of companies or banks that are profit driven. Hopefully reform is on the way.

    The cynicism about education makes it very hard for me on these forums. Of course we are looking for good students, and of course we need a certain number of students, but what would be the point of misleading people? What makes a school work is the passion and dedication of everyone- faculty, students and support staff. That's what gets you through the hard work and frustration, and, especially this year, the long winter. We need students who are a good fit for us and vice-versa. Without good students - and by "good" I mean passionate, hardworking and motivated to learn - even good teachers can't teach well. We are all dependent on each other... so why wouldn't we be interested in letting people know we exist and hoping they'll at least look into what we offer?

    Now we get to see the outcome of everyone's hard work. The opening of the first year show is tomorrow night. The graduate show will open May 30th. I'm totally exhausted which explains my endless rambling in this reply.

    I know there are other schools that have integrity, real interest in students, and love for the arts they are teaching. You definitely will be able to tell what's going on: look at the year end shows, try to speak with current students and graduates. Look for schools that have working professionals teaching. When most of the work is good, when the general level is high, it's a good indication that the program is good.

    You have very important qualities: you are really interested and curious and able to work independently. You really have achieved a lot on your own. A good school would be helpful, but make sure it's a good school.

    If you take a series of individual classes, use the same criteria. I'm sure, whatever you decide, you'll find the way to achieve your goals.

    Last edited by Maxine Schacker; April 16th, 2008 at 09:06 PM.
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