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  1. #1
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    stay in art school or not?

    Hey guys this is a long one so grab a snack. I have a question/dilemma/pickle. I have been attending college now for about a year and a half in a BS of Game Art and Design degree. I first started this journey at Westwood College Online. After attending there for about a year I decided it was time for a change (I felt like I was paying for an A). I started a couple months ago at the Art Institute Online. I did some research and found Ai Online was one of the best online schools out there (I think I saw it on Gamasutra). I also looked at some recent graduate’s work that was pretty decent (nothing compared to the pros here on CA). Then I started reading all the threads bashing the Art Institutes. And CA is starting these streaming classes which will eventually become an art school. So now I am torn... Let me give you some background info. I have to go to online school right now because I am active duty Air Force and I am also stationed in South Carolina (seemingly the worst state to live in if you want to study art). My six years is up next May and I am getting out to pursue a career in art. I have a wife and a step daughter. We are planning on moving to Texas as there are a lot of job opportunities there and it is much less expensive than Cali. I am $25,000 in debt from school loans right now. If I quit going to school my GI Bill will stop and I will have to start paying the loans back. I purchase a lot of downloads from CA and the gnomon workshop which seem to be teaching me more than actual college. But most of the money allowing me to do this is from the GI Bill. I would love to get out of college and just do a bunch of workshops, also while working hard on my own end but I don’t think there is any hope for that now. It seems like I am stuck in this path. Which isn’t a bad thing I guess a BS degree would be awesome to have, I just think I could become a much better artist learning from actual pros in workshops (and they are way CHEAPER!). I am going to continue to work hard on my skills everyday and start looking for a job when I get out of the military, but who knows if I will be able to get one. I honestly wish this CA school would start up and get its accredibility so the GI Bill would cover me, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. What do you guys think? What should I do? I know what I want to do but it doesn’t seem financially possible. Anyone went through this kind of experience before? Does anyone know if I quit college and started doing workshops frequently would the financial aid sharks approve that as “attending school.” Thanks a lot for listening I know I am rambling a little but I have a lot on my mind. Any advice would be paramount.

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  2. #2
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    Emiri is offline your friendly neighbourhood jesus Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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    I'm going to suggest that either you stick with AI online and just get your degree OR go to a community college (it's so much cheeeappper) for the time being.

    The first option, I think would be okay as long as in job interviews you explain to people that you worked really hard outside of school. Your work has to be impressive, too though. A lot of people will look at "oh a degree from AI" and stick their noses up at it. Even I would... but if I liked your portfolio, I'd interview you. I personally think it's much more impressive when people are essentially self-taught.

    The second option, going to a community school, would buy you some time with the loans and not really pile up that much more onto your debt. However, that really means you're going to be waiting patiently for the other school to become accredited... Who knows how long that will take? That process sucks. HOWEVER, if it doesn't become accredited, you will still have gained credits that you can put towards something (if you take the right courses)... maybe transfer into the AI programs.

    Should you stop going to AI and decide to go back, you have to be aware that if schools change their curriculum and you have stopped attending for ___ semesters, you have to make up the differences in courses. My Ex "took a break" for a year, and had to pretty much start all over again, because they restructured his program. It took him 5 years to get a 2 year degree.

    Last edited by Emiri; August 14th, 2009 at 01:50 PM. Reason: :D
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    Thanks Emiri for the response! I thinking instead of moving to Texas I may move to LA. I really just want to go to an ART school. I don't care much about all the general education stuff. It's not that I don't want to learn about it, it's just I don't want to spend all this money on subjects I don't need. I have been really interested in the Gnomon School of Visual Effects for a long time so I am thinking about trying one of their programs. Plus they are only a year long and they all about art... no fluffy stuff. I am scheduled for a phone convo with them on Monday, so we will see how that goes. Thanks again!

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    I am a student at the Art Institute of Dallas. i enjoy it and i am growing so much as an artist.

    As far as learning illustration and going into concept art, it CAN be done through AI's programs. The two most viable choices are either Animation, or Graphic Design (you could start Graphic Design and then transfer to Ft.Lauderdale where there is an actual Illustration program at that campus)

    I wont say that AI is in line with the kind of things that you will learn from ringling, but im just saying that the school itself doesnt really make you a good artist. Because ultimately your growth will come from you getting active and really jumping in even if you dont have anyone showing you.

    I can draw and paint as well as people from those great schools and it's only because i draw draw draw and constantly have my head in books and tutorials. Which is essentially what most teachers will tell you to do anyways.

    The Graphic Design program at AI is not meant to be a FINE art degree as a lot of people assume. AI has a bad rep only because people make the mistake of assuming that it is a traditional art school. The truth is that AI is a commercial art school, where you can and will learn traditional skills, theory, and technique. But only as it relates to the viable job market (where as typical art schools often teach according to traditional curriculum as it relates to the classic ideas of their programs).

    Studying graphic design is a viable option for entering concept art and illustration. With AI you learn digital illustration. Im not sure about the online school, but here at my campus we even have to learn guache, marker, pastels, pen and ink, and charcoal. The school actively encourages us to also expirament with various media, and our teachers are very supportive offing to give tutorials on technique and volunteering to help students develope their particular area of interest.

    Within the graphic design and animation programs there are also areas of emphasis that you can focus on. I know at my school animation kids can choose to be Pre-vis specialist, composit and effects, modeling + character develpment, 2d animation. The pre-vis track at the art institute perfectly qualifies students to go into the field of concept art because they dont just learn to draw well, but they learn to draw the characters and enviorments, create them in 3d enviornments, and create 2d comps to present.

    As far as graphic design goes...Illustration is technically a sub-category of the broad area of Graphic Design. Typically you will be taught Graphic Design as it relates to the business/entertainment world. But this is infact a very limited grasph of the idea of graphical design. Graphic design is basically the idea of visual communication. Illustration attempts to reach the same goals as Graphic Design, but with it's emphasis being as it relates to painting, drawing, printing, ect as oppose to the broader defenition of Graphic design which includes aesthetics, typography, information organization, and layout.

    At AI (Atleast at my school) you can choose between different tracks within the graphic design program and the class rooms allow you the flexibility to center your learning around your goal. My school, for instance allows me to pursue a track focusing on Graphic Illustration, meaning that All of my elective classes will be focused on Graphic Illustration in photohop, illustrator, and Painter X. But also you still do learn the basics of Mostion Graphics, Typography, and Package design. But really as far as where you take your degree depens on your area of emphasis. their goal isnt to make you some carved out commercial artist, but to push you to profeciency in multiple areas but allowing you to direct those towards a goa. All of the things that you learn in either the animation route or graphic design route have application to ART in general.

    My plan for attending the Art Institute is to take the Graphic Design route. When i graduate ill not only be able to produce quality digital illustrations, but i'll have a distinct eye for the design aspect of my work. Ill have the skill to use typography effectively in my work. And ill understand how to use gestalt psychology to convey the ideas that im trying to in my paintings and drawings. Not only that but ill have a deep understanding of color properties in the print world and how they relate to my work. Ill also be able to produce quality work using photoshop, painter, and illustrator. Ill have the skill to create special effects, custom typeface, animations, and even do some 3d art work (which is actually a class that is taught here). Ill be able to use traditional media like markers, watercolors, goauche, and pastels to create origonal works.

    Ill be able to not only work as an illustrator but ill be a graphic designer as well which means that ill not only be able to paint well and create rediculously stylized renderings...but ill understand more about visual communication from more of a design perspective.

    There is no one way to concept art. The thing is that most schools dont have a CONCEPT art program, so there will always be a struggle over that. Illustration is the MOST direct and obvious choice. But many great illustrators and concept artists have graduated from Graphic Design, Painting, Drawing, Architecture , Advertising Design backgrounds.

    Dont be discouraged by the limited availability of classes that you have right now. I would suggest continueing in your program. Even if it doesnt bring you to your final goal just realise that no program can. Ultimately it comes down to those late nights crunching over the Character of the Week threads, youtube tutorials, and books from the library. Go and buy a shit load of student grade acrylics and some illustration board and gesso and just start painting. Start copying other peoples stuff and work out how they did what they did...

    I can probably speak on everyone's behalf that their skill didnt come from a school solely..but a deep seeded passion and dedication to learn not only what the school taught.,..but what the school didnt teach.

    so stick in there and remember, after you graduate Illustration is something you can focus on in your graduate studies. Also, you may just attend the Atelier in San Fran. Take free classes and audit classes at a local school. Attend live nude drawing classes . and do posemaniacs. draw daily from your imagination, and really REALLY REALLY master perspective (i prefer the grid system).

    anyways...i thought ide comment because i love the art institute and it has done me very well. But i will admit that Art Institute of Dallas is probrably one of the better graphic design programs, and is one of the few that has illustration as its main emphasis (FT lauderdale has an actual illustration program).

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  5. #5
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    Emiri is offline your friendly neighbourhood jesus Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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    I've always been someone that really hated doing gen eds, but in order to get a BFA or AA or AAS, you have to do them. Gnomon is a certificate, though.

    As a suggestion, you seem to have been going for a year and half for a BS, correct?
    You can probably turn that into a 2 year degree at a community school. You should check and see how many credits you'd have to take to make it one (it might be a lot, it might not).

    I think it'd be more impressive to have your associates and the Gnomon certificate... plus, you'd probably get paid a little more

    Good luck~

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