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I'm trying to find feedback about The Art Department but i seem to only find the usual advertising "good feedback"
I have no doubt the school is good. But I would like to know preferably from a student current or past about the Goods AND the Bads about the school.
What does a Week look like at TAD?
Do teachers answer fast when you send them a question?
Is there any week off between semesters?
Any info would be appreciated.
I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated with a major in Sequential Art and their newly created minor in Conceptual Illustration. I think I learned a lot at SCAD, but one aspect that I cannot speak highly enough about TAD is the foundations program. There is no comparison, really. In this one and a half semesters I can honestly say that I've learned so much more about composition, figure, and color theory than I did in four years at SCAD.
Now for the bad.
The first semester at TAD was comprised of a very intense workload. Six classes that meet twice a week, and two that met once per week. Honestly, you need to devote a lot of time to the coursework if you're taking fulltime classes.
The online delivery systems aren't perfect. Moodle, the central hub of the system can glitch up from time to time, and the system for the classes themselves, while better than the previous Eluminate software, still has some issues. That being said, it's still leaps and bounds better than any online class system than I have encountered anywhere else.
I have yet to get into the 2D Entertainment major proper, and the while the system is still in it's relative 'infancy', I'd definitely recommend at VERY least trying out a course or two.
It will kick your ass... your fellow student's will kick your ass... but if you want to kick ass, I cannot think of a better place to learn.
P.S. All of my fellow students are awesome. Both as people and also as artists. They'll challenge you,(just talent-wise) but we also run classes/study groups/f*ck arounds of our own.
P.P.S. There is actually a huge gap between semesters, because that is when they run the three week workshops.
current first semester student here, and i've had some thoughts on the good and bad of the courses i've had thus far.
I graduated from VCU with a major in Communication Arts and after coming to TAD, i realized that i had underestimated a lot of what i had learned at VCU. Still, the TAD foundations program is organized in a way that, some things it took me 3-4 years to learn about at university, it is taught early on in the first semester of TAD
Not going to lie, the first semester can seem super remedial if you've got any prior art training, and you have to humble yourself to get the most out of it. (even if you think you know the stuff, you gotta make an honest assessment on whether or not you're actually applying said foundation skills, and in my case the answer was no)
Some classes definitely will seem more interesting than others (this may vary by individual), and some of the instructors seem to have a better plan about the structure of their class than others (and some instructors have a better understanding of the moodle/blackboard-elluminate software than others).
The amount of teacher feedback in the classes is really good and honest. they won't feed you fluff about what needs fixing or improving in your work.
Teachers do answer fast when you contact them outside of class, and in-class it's pretty much instant.
There's a surprising level of synergy in the foundation classes, even if the immediate assignments don't line up, they all have a lot of shared foundation principles being exercised so that things learned in one class carry over to another really well (and almost expected).
Workload is heavy, and it can be pretty grueling if you underestimate it. I think for me, and other students with prior high level art education, it's nothing new in terms of raw amount. Some classes also have implied homework, which means you're responsible for managing your own time to do the work, since there might not be a real deadline or turn in.
My understanding of time between semesters is that it follows the same style of school calender as other universities, with summer/winter breaks between semesters and spring/fall breaks in the middle (other students or faculty correct me on this if i'm wrong please).
i have to agree with this statement. The main reason i applied to TAD was that i felt my skills weren't at a level of ass-kicking, and i'm willing to pay the price in time and money because i have a lot of faith in TAD's system. even though TAD is only a few years old, it's parent program Illustration Academy has been around for a while with a solid rep.It will kick your ass... your fellow student's will kick your ass... but if you want to kick ass, I cannot think of a better place to learn.
I am a current 4th semester student and am part of the inaugural class so I've been here since the start. All of the above statements are true in terms of heavy workload. The first 2 semesters are very intense. If you are full time you will not do much outside of classes and homework, but if you are in it for the long haul this is the work ethic you need. Once you get into your major your classes slow down a bit, but it's because you are spending more time on bigger assignments / freelance work. I'm in my 2nd semester of 2D entertainment art and we have helped to shape the semesters that will fallow us. Art foundations have been taught for centuries but concept art is still a fairly new area of expertise to teach, so there is room for improvement in the delivery/assignment area. Some of the classes have been revamped over the past few semesters to deliver more consistent information with exercises and repetition.
There are winter and summer breaks but for the upper level students this doesn't mean you stop working. We are either at the workshops, transitioning into freelance work or developing our own IP. We work hard to make use of the connections we have now with the school to make our graduation to industry transition as smooth as possible.
The online classes are at the forefront of online education. Yes the software has it's faults but compared to other art school students I've talked to we are blessed with instant virtual communication and interaction from around the world.
I have been attending part time since Spring of last year and it has been great. If anything I have been wondering if I should quit my job and just go for it full time. Classes are online so I will get the bad out first...technology always has its hang ups but the occasional problems there are pretty much the problems everywhere. I have so far taken painting with Jason Manley and Jon Foster, Head/portrait painting with Vanessa Lemen and Ron Lemen, and Composition and Color I and II with Marshal Vandruff. So this has pretty much been an all star line up. The work is demanding but so far I have repeatedly asked myself the same question, "why didn't I get this the first time in art school?". The instructors just really know their craft and are more than willing to show you not just technique and theory and THOUGHT process.
A typical class might involve lecture, demonstration, critique, or any and all of the above and they are all very valuable. Classmates are also quite awesome and if you hit a wall they are there to help you over it.
Hope that helps and good luck!
Jayna Pavlin, 2d/3d Artist
Hey man, glad you're thinking hard about TAD. It's not a cheap school, but it's well worth it if you want to really up your game in art.
I'm in the second semester of Ent 2D and enjoying it tremendously. BE WARNED: as others have said the Full Time program is no joke. When they say Full Time they mean FULL Time. Last semester I was in studio from about 10 AM until 11PM 7 days-a-week and I was still frequently behind. However, I learned more in those 18 weeks than in the previous 8 years of art instruction. I went with a part-time schedule this semester because of work other demands on my time and I'm finding it a bit more comfortable, I can spend more time on my assignments and feel like I'm getting more out of them.
There are a lot of online teaching programs these days but TAD is a cut above. The sharing software sometimes presents challenges, but the quality of the instructors is unquestionably better than all but a handful I've ever had in the past. They are top of their own fields and they really care about your success. I've been very impressed with how responsive they've been to student needs and concerns. They accept a lot of student input in refining the structure of the program, since they have more freedom to do so than a traditional university does. Also, even though we're physically separated from our instructors and fellow students - often by thousands of miles - it feels like you're all in the same room with each other. You become fast friends with people you've never met in person (unless you can get together at one of the 3-week workshops, I haven't made it to one yet). The academic year is structured similarly to a university program with two semesters per year, a winter, spring, fall, and summer break.
You also have the option of joining a POD and I recommend taking advantage of that if you have the option. I'm in the Richmond POD and I get additional feedback on my projects from the POD leaders and fellow students which also helps to push me forward. The fellowship of other artists is a great motivator. It's also a great place to work with messy media like oil paint that you may not want to use at home, or have the space for.
A week at TAD will generally consist of the classes you take, the assignments you do and any additional activities you want to join such as Weekly POD meetings/critiques, live figure drawing sessions, student-run online workshops, art competition projects you and fellow students decide to enter etc. You will be as busy as you choose to be.
Hope that helps!
Hey there Nodixal,
Jon Neimeister here, 4th semester student been here since the founding of TAD.
It's definitely got its ups and downs, but overall I would still highly recommend TAD over anything else from what I've heard from students who have gone to other schools and are now here by comparison.
For your questions, a typical week at TAD is dawn to dusk (and beyond!) work. I'd say on average it takes about 60 hours a week of class and homework time, and more than that on the (fairly regular) insane crunch weeks. This can be a downside if you have to work a job at the same time cause you'll be forced to pick and choose assignments; I would probably recommend starting off part-time if that's the case. On the flip side of that, it's a good thing because there are plenty of art students out there pulling 12-hour days trying to get good at this stuff, and that's what it takes if you're going to have any hope of competing, plus it prepares you well for the crazy workloads of the industry.
As for teachers responding quickly to questions, yeah they're very good about that. You can easily ask questions at any time in class, and also everyone will give you their email so you can hit them up outside of class and they'll usually respond within a couple days.
And yes, there is a break between semesters, it's usually around 6 weeks I think but there's also the 3 week work workshop during that time that you can go to if you want (which I would highly recommend).
As for the overall pros and cons of TAD, they're definitely there but again I would say the pros outweigh the cons. I think one of TAD's strongest points is its variety and well-roundedness; there's such a variety of instructors that you're going to get a little sampling of everything and learn about artists you never knew existed that, even if you just want to draw dragons and space marines, knowing all the more tasteful illustration and fine art stuff will greatly help you to stand out from the crowd.
Another big plus is that its all straight up business; there's no bizzare nebulous 'just figure it out' instruction, everything is taught clearly and with a purpose. It's all relevant and it all ties in together. A big advantage of the online school is the quality of teachers they can get because it doesn't require them to move; and as such the instructors are all extremely good, the most knowledgeable ones I've ever seen.
As for the cons, again a two-edged sword is just the workload. If you can handle it its great, but if not it can be overwhelming; if you have lots of time to work then you shouldn't have any problem keeping up as long as you're dedicated. However, one of the advantages is that even though there's a lot to do in a short amount of time, you're still getting all the information, so even if you leave school not totally understanding something, you'll have enough information to know where to go to figure it out. Before TAD I would look at my inspirations and just marvel at them and wish I knew how to do that, now even though I'm still not on there level, I can see and understand everything that they're doing and have a clear path to follow in order to get there, just needs time at this point.
A lot of people expect there to be a big downside to the program being online, but honestly I haven't encountered any. I took my first semester online and my following ones at one of the PODs, and even though the software can be a little glitchy it still offers a huge amount of control and being able to go back and re-watch classes is invaluable. And even online, there's a definite sense of comradery that develops with your peers- some of the students have started up saturday online speedpainting groups and we've done student lectures and demos so there's still plenty of interaction even though its online.
I'd say overall right now the biggest con is simply that TAD is still figuring itself out. You'll probably have an easier and easier time at this point, but since right now they're still figuring out the 4th and 5th semesters the teachers are juggling a lot and things can be a bit hectic, but you're still going to get better information here than a lot of other schools. The only time this has become a big problem is when we haven't been able to cover all the information we would need due to running out of time, which has happened more in the entertainment semester, but they're still figuring out ways to include any missed information in to other classes so it all gets covered at some point.
Hope that's helpful, feel free to message me if you have any other questions! : )
I'm a second semester student.
I'm loving it, I've never experienced so much growth in such short periods before. The students and instructors at TAD never fail to inspire you to work hard, and hardwork is really what it takes to be a good artist.
The downsides of TAD I would say are mainly the fact that you don't get to work with people in person, so sometimes your bad habits go uncorrected.
Also there is more energy and better studying environment when you're physically in a room with other students. But we've been compensating for that by getting into our own chat sessions while we work.
Overall I'd say this is probably one of the best decisions I've made in my life!
Also, compared to other private art schools in north america, TAD is cheap.
The name is Evan Norman and I am in the 4th semester of TAD and I have one more semester to go and I have been here since the beginning.
What are the goods and the bads??
The goods are that the school is extremely affordable and in my opinion, a sure fire top 5 school in the country, and arguably a top school if you are an oversees student. We get taught more than just "how to draw", we get taught "how to think, and how to problem solve". One of my favorite lessons at TAD was in Sketchbook I, where Sterling Hundley gave us assignments that were purposefully vague because it just wasn't an exercise in drawing... it was an exercise in THINKING! How did you brain react to the situation, how do you respond to an assignment like "go draw something big and something small". Such a good lesson that I will retain for the rest of my career.
In my opinion, the number one thing you learn at TAD is Picture Making. This goes beyond style, drawing ability, or media and really helps you appreciate and understand EVERYTHING: movies, illustrations, animation, the mother fucking world that surrounds us.
The negatives are the lack of accountability. Because the school is online, it's completely up to you as a student to wake up and attend class, but more than that. When you are in class, you can be distracted by the internet, real life and you might find yourself not paying attention to the teacher. That is the real struggle. The struggle with yourself.
I think everyone else answered your other questions fairly well, many of your other concerns can be answered at the school website http://theartdepartment.org/
you can email me at thyname [at] gmail.com if you have any more questions. This goes for anyone else who might read this
I'm glad you're trying to find information about TAD. I think it's really important to figure out your pros and cons as well as getting some honest feedback from students and faculty members.
Before I started TAD, I was concerned about how to pay for the school. It was a big deal for me since I have a house to pay and that takes a lot of financial stability. If you have the support of family, it makes it much better. I almost didn't go to TAD thinking I could wait until it became accredited and I could possibly get government help.
Don't Wait! I was fortunate enough to receive a modest scholarship to kick me into gear. If you work hard to get in, and apply early, you could earn scholarships! Also think of TAD as a great investment towards your future.
ok, so now to the main info. TAD has great teachers who really know what they are talking about. Check their websites and you'll see. They also love to punish you with work...j/k, but really, they do give you plenty of work. If you were to graduate from TAD and say you didn't learn anything, then you would be a really bad student because teachers make sure to give you enough work to increase your knowledge and skill level. A typical week at TAD (online) is sitting in front of a computer learning and drawing. If you're not in front of a computer, then you're in front of an easel or drawing table. Teachers are also pretty good about answering question via email. Some might take a little longer than others, but it's expected since they have crazier schedules than what we have at TAD.
If you have a job on the side like I have, it can make things more challenging for you, but if you want to make it in the business this is something you have to juggle with every day. Basically, after you come home from work, then you get a quick bite and then start watching classes while starting homework from other classes. I am a full-time student on my second semester so lots of intense work and watching and re-watching classes to understand the information.
We could do better with a stable online system for TAD, but it's not bad enough for you to be scared of missing class or important things. TAD is still working hard to fix this.
There are breaks in between semesters that give you enough time to review the information from the previous semester and if you have the opportunity, it will give you time to attend the workshops. Always try to work during your time off so you don't loose your newly gained skills. Well, you might take a week to recover with sleep from the grueling finals. With the last statement, don't take TAD homework lightly or else you will pay for it during finals.
When it comes to grading, teachers will grade you fairly. If you have a problem with your grade, you can always rework your pieces and turn them in later for a few more points.
To conclude, TAD is a really top tier school that will kick your ass in every way possible for you to become a much better artist. You will have many sleepless nights but at the end of the semester, look at your first drawings and you'll see how much you've improved. Teachers are pretty funny and cool, but at the same time will push you to become a better artist. There a a few cons, but when you compare them to all the pros, there is no competition. You will learn, laugh, stress, get mad, and maybe gain some weight if you sit around all the time (try to walk or work out if you have the time). I graduated with a BA and MFA from a school and I have learned more from TAD in one semester than I have during those years at school (if you really apply yourself).
Hope this helps!
2nd Semester TAD student here.
I have a college degree, but not formal art education. I have books I bought and read myself to self teach but didn't put much towards the way of practice.
Overall I can say that it was like taking a favorite hobby that I didn't spend much time on unless I was inspired to a full time double shift night and day job.
The classes are live, every day, sometimes all day. (8-am to 5pm on the west coast) Then you get an hour to lunch, and hour or two to workout and eat dinner, and then if you are disciplined enough to spend the next 3 hours doing homework before bed, nothing should ever be a problem.
Have a reliable connection and you'll be fine. Teachers will critique you instantly in class, and if you forgot to post your assignment in moodle where they could download them before hand, probably because you were up too late and fell to sleep at your keyboard, you can usually tell them you have it ready and you can drop it in the class program window (Blackboard, Elluminate) on your screen and it will upload to the live classroom, like taping it to a wall for everyone to look at.
There is a common theme among some peers (not all) that 'sometimes' that there is not enough time to complete everything.
And I will disagree to that, because I have completed 95-99 percent of all the requirements of the classes so far and have just this past couple of weeks due to some personal issues fallen behind in only a couple of classes. I'll repeat that, the requirements, being assignments. Not necessarily works of art to put in a portfolio.
The thing is, the first year is all fundamentals. They can be uninteresting to some students and overwhelming to others. We started out with...maybe 30 or so people, anyway it felt like a ton more people than we have now. By the end of the semester in the last few days there were only about 19, with about 8 people attending. People were missing class to catch up with all the other assignments they hadn't done on their own time due to poor time management or outside of school priorities.
The Good:You don't have to relocate. Wake up in the morning and you are sketching with Ron Lemen and Sterling Hundley. Who else can say that? It is possible to work a part time job and do this. Some people are going to school full time outside of this and still doing it well, or working full time and doing it 'okay' ( I don't know how, a great support system, no pets or children and a minimal to none social life) Your computer screen will eventually become your social life once your fellow students start talking and you get to know them.
If you can sacrifice enough of your time to this and be disciplined enough to keep up week to week with the assignments you will see improvements every week. You will feel yourself actually getting better, go back and look at huge progressions and realize how far you have come in such a short time. And actually see the future and where you can take it. You get to talk to professionals every single day live on camera/mic.
The price is actually very very reasonable (though some have said it is expensive) compared to other art schools.
There are students in class who have finished degrees at Art Institutes and/or Art Centers, that have said I don't know how many times, "why didn't I learn this the first time in art school..." You will get the real deal here.
The Bad:Your emotions will be drained, refilled, and drained again. There will be huge ups and huge downs. Fellow students will come in with stuff and blow you away like Clint Eastwood, and (personally) that makes it hard to stay focused on what you are learning and why you are learning it. But I have seen amazing students with art educations completely bomb assignments, and 'nobodies' wreck assignments like a mack truck and it is suddenly obvious that they have leveled up hard core (that last part of sentence should be in good section).
If you don't attend classes, watch them on demand, and fast forward through to just see your own critiques, or pick and choose assignments WAY after they were initially given, not only will you miss things that you would have learned about in the first couple of weeks, but it will be super obvious to the teachers and to other students that you are not really into this. You will get left behind, but it's not the schools fault.
They will work with you if you get behind in the next semester, but you are on a very thin ice and will possibly have a mental break down, because you will be trying to do two semesters worth of work at once, where none of the work will be good.
Maybe this isn't bad...but your taste will start to develop being exposed to so much good art that sometimes stuff that you used to think was good turns out to be really bad.
BOTTOM LINE: IF YOU ARE WILLING TO GIVE IT YOUR ABSOLUTE ATTENTION, FOCUS ON YOUR OWN IMPROVEMENT OF WORK AND BE THE WHOLE PACKAGE YOU WILL SUCCEED AND SEE IMPROVEMENT.
Very busy.....but you get what you put into it. Foundations here is like no other school(been to a few).....Teachers will respond promptly when asked questions via email...but you will communicate with them directly in class everyday also, there not taped classes like CGMW, there live classes. A week at TAD is full man....you will be too busy to see your friends, or party.....but thats part of paying your dues in art...everyone has to do it. My opinion, most schools cant compare...the few that do, will cost you as much as a medical degree. Just do it
I'm a 2nd semester full-time student, thought I'd add my thoughts. What everybody else has already said about TAD is spot on.
The workload is intense. Be prepared to sacrifice most or all of your free time to the work. If you fall behind it can be really overwhelming to try and catch up. Like any school, it's all up to you on how much you actually pay attention and digest what the teachers are saying. But, the information the instructors give is really amazing and the fact that they're all seasoned vets makes it all the more meaningful. They're not interested in simply teaching you to be a talented draftsperson, it's all about creative process and problem solving, so you can continue to evolve beyond any of the latest artistic trends.
Unless you're at one of the PODs you miss out on being in the same room with your teachers and other students, which really adds to the learning/ social experience.
Overall, it has been a huge challenge and a great experience.
Last edited by sketchamatic; April 25th, 2012 at 02:33 PM.
Wow ok thanks a lot for all the info guys. this was great and definitely helping me make up my mind
To Everyone who replied in this thread, thank you!
I have had the pleasure of having most of you in my classes and I can honestly say developing TAD has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life!
I receive huge gratification watching you grow personally and artistically.
Our current 4th semesters students are absolutely blowing me away with their capabilities and are proving that TAD works. The efforts and the work the students are creating is the real proof of our success.
Again, I thank you all!