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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Artists who had to endure a liberal arts school and a non-art major?

    I just realized a year into school at a highly respected university, with a not-so-spectacular art program, that I want to study art.

    My parents won't let me abandon a non-art degree at a highly competitive university, so I'm stuck double majoring.

    The problem? The art program is terrible, with only about two professors who can offer me serious instruction.

    Has anyone else had to endure this? I'm trying to take the time out to teach myself the things I would be learning in art school, but after a full day's worth of coursework I'm exhausted and finding it hard to take the time and do the extra work.

    I am in love with art. It's what I want to do... Can anyone offer me inspiration?


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  3. #2
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    What do you have to gain by putting a lot of money and effort into a major that isn't really what you want to do? Believe me, It will just give you a great big reason to doubt your real goals. You might find yourself five years from now having to start over or stick with something just because of a degree. One that incidentally won't help you get hired as an artist.

    Don't worry about that one year of school, that's nothing and you probably got some required courses out of the way if you transfer. Just don't wait any longer, figure out how to do what you love and do it. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

  4. #3
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    My understanding is that, unless you are working freelance, few studios give a damn about what your degree says on it,so much as that you have a degree. What really matters is the strength of your portfolio and your enthusiasm about your art and your desire to work hard towards attaining a goal.

    I'm not a professional artist, I am a teacher, but I have friends who are professional artists and some of them don't even have degrees, but had the skills to make up for it. One thing that is commonly told to me is that the degree ( a four year degree is obviously better than a 2 year degree in this regard) quite simply represents your ability to persevere and push through tough times to accomplish a task that either you have set for yourself, or has been set for you.

    An art degree would be preferable I'm sure to many employers, however just having the degree, and from a prestigious university at that, would go a long way to getting you employed at a studio. What really matters is that you put in the hours and hours of hard work towards improving your skills.
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  5. #4
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    Notes to consider:
    1. You worked your ass off all your life so you could go to this school. Don't give up that work without consideration. Also, consider whether those two art professors are worth staying for, or if there's any other subject worth staying for.

    2. If you want to transfer, that's your decision, not your parents'. If your grades are good enough, you should be able to transfer to an equally good school, somewhere else, and you may qualify for financial aid there as well. Check your options.

    3. If you stayed and followed your second favorite subject, what career would it qualify you for afterward?

    4. What kind of art are you interested in? Do you know yet? This makes a huge difference in recommending where to go. I can't help more without this, except to say studying art is like starting a business. It helps to have a lot of starting cash. Do you have this?

  6. #5
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    If you can convince yourself that you are great and will succeed in an art field, then you can easily persuade your parents to think the same. Dont let your want to appease them affect your best interests.

  7. #6
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    IMO it's too late in the day to start thinking of jacking it all in and starting again. If it were me, and bearing in mind I'm only partially sane, I'd quit just the art degree and use that time to study at my own pace. Keep on with the non-art degree because if you're only thinking of changing career at this late stage it sounds unlikely you'll be able to support yourself as an artist straight from Uni. I could be wrong of course, I'm just going off what you wrote, that you "just realised" you want to study art a year into your degree course. As life-changing decisions go, it sounds a little sudden.

    I'd say think about initially graduating and getting a job in your original vocation whilst keeping up the art study. Later on you can make the transition in a more controlled manner. Aspirations are all very well but unfortunately you can't eat them.

  8. #7
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    Two profs who can give you serious instruction is way better than none. Consider yourself lucky.

  9. #8
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    Well, I did two years of an Honours History degree in a respected canadian university before saying "fuck it" and switch to Game Art and Design in a tiny college. So, from personal perspective, it really isn't that bad.

    1) I'm much happier.

    2) I work in the field that I want, and the harder I work the more doors keep opening.

    3) It's much more rewarding.

    That being said, it was a very personal decision for me. I was going through university like a sleepwalker, getting A's without doing all the reading or even studying, for some exams. I've always found school to be easy, and I went to a prep college for high school, so I found university way too lax. And one day I woke up and realized that I did *not* want to write history papers for the rest of my life, I did not want to teach history, and there was really nothing else for me down the road I had set.

    Do I regret anything I did? Sometimes. The program I switched to certainly wasn't the best, it was just the closest. I got frustrated by the lack of commitment in nearly everyone else that went there. But I got my first two game design jobs straight out of contacts made at that school, and a friend I met there led me to this place, so ultimately it was worth it.

    Sometimes I wonder about finishing my degree, but university will always be there if I want to go back, it's not going to move. I'm glad I switched now because I love history, but I took it as a major because it was easy for me, not because I had any passion about it.

    Now, the difference is the money. Canadian universities are a LOT less expensive. I was on scholarship, so the tuition for my first year totaled ... $2000 canadian. 2 grand. That's it. So as far as money was concerned, I wasn't too worried about that particular investment.

    It's much different in the states.


    All I can say is that you have to do what makes you happy, no matter what your parents say. My mom pulled my college funding when I switched so I had to work at a juice place just to be able to go to the college I switched to. (Which was much more expensive since it was an american institution and thus didn't get canadian grant money.)

    It is not the easiest path and I can't guarantee it will work for you. But ultimately, following your passion is the best thing you can do, I can't stress that enough. Your parents will eventually come around when they realise that you're happy and that you're working your butt off to secure the best and brightest future you can. :]

  10. #9
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    Don't bother double majoring in a crappy art program. Your time would be better spent concentrating on your original major, learning on your own, and seeing if you can take classes with those one or two decent teachers as open electives (or just auditing if that isn't possible).

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  11. #10
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    Basically, you've gotten yourself involved in the great education racket that sucks up tons of money. It's only worth it if you're qualified for a career afterwards. It sounds like it won't qualify you for art, so you either stick it out for another subject, or you leave.

    I once made a foolish choice of forking over the cash to a fancy school to learn art. It didn't qualify me like I thought it would and now I regret it, even though I had a good time, and even though the professors were all right.

  12. #11
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    I'd have said what Baron I. and Elwell said. If you exit college with a degree that'll pay the bills you'll have time and resources of your own to dedicate to an aspiration in art. I'd use the art classes as my General Humanities requirements, learn what I can, and look forward to being a professional "something" after school. From there, if you have a decent job, there won't be anything stopping you from working towards your goals.

    If your art program is a bad one, don't spend time or money on it. You'll be doing more harm than good.

  13. #12
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    I realized 2 years away from graduating that I was interested in art... I had no training and just picking up and leaving to try art was a big risk (I might have found out it was a passing thing!) so I kept going with college, but told my parents "don't be suprised if i come and tell you I want to do something else in a year".

    Well...a year passed and I went to my parents and said "turns out I really really want to do art, I want to start in art school". Well, they convinced me to just finish up the degree and still do art on my own... but after they said they would give me a bit of help on the art thing.

    Thats where I am now, I just finished my business degree and moved out to try learning art full time for a year (would would mean I have 3 years of art practice before trying to get a job).

    If you are paying for the degree... well...don't waste your money and go into what you want to do. If your parents are paying for the degree and it makes them feel better if you have it? Well, go ahead and get it and just teach yourself (with the understanding that you might need some real training when you are done).

    Take classes, get books, and draw as much as you can (during class is GREAT for that!!). Time is one of the most important things for being an artist.... even with the GREATEST teachers in the world, a year would not be enough to train you to get a job. Whatever buys you the most time to develop your skills before needing to enter the working world is your best bet (without putting yourself into a bunch of debt! because that just sucks!).

  14. #13
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    No one cares about your degree if your portfolio is very good.

    HOWEVER, contacts made in school can make your life way easier. But that supposes that the degree you take is staffed by pros and attended by students who are serious and become pros too.

    School also gives a good environment for learning, so unless you know that you are serious and can teach yourself, you want the best art classes possible. You can become good even if you attend bad classes, but then it will take more work on your part to overcome the program's weeknesses.

  15. #14
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    A non-art degree gives you a backup plan and a way to make money while you establish yourself as an artist. I myself have a business degree, and I could see using that later on to maybe open a gallery or to help promote/market artists. I know many artists who have four year degrees in something else to pay the bills until they hit it big. It's not a bad thing.

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    Has anyone else had to endure this? I'm trying to take the time out to teach myself the things I would be learning in art school, but after a full day's worth of coursework I'm exhausted and finding it hard to take the time and do the extra work.
    Welcome to pursuing art as a career.

    It sucks, but that's how it is. If you really want it, you're gonna have to make yourself work for it, whether you're tired or not. Set aside a minimum amount of time each day to work on art, and don't let yourself go under it. (2 hours a day is a decent minimum for someone in college doing a non-art major.) Feel free to do more, but if you set a minimum time, STICK TO IT. Do not let yourself make excuses for why you can't do it. There are way too many possible excuses, and it's far too easy to find one that you can justify.

    Drop the art major. You're not likely to make good contacts in a crappy art program, and it sounds like the classes aren't worth it. I was 3 years into my Biochem degree when I decided to pursue art. I spent a few hours a day working on art on my own while finishing up that degree. After college I got a job using that crappy non-art degree, continued to work on art, and saved every bit of money I could. I'm now studying full-time at the CA atelier while living on those savings, and I could NOT be happier.

    There are no shortcuts. No matter how exhausted you are, there is no getting around the fact that there's only one way to go about it: Do the work. It will pay off.

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