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  1. #1
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    Do I need to take art courses or major in art?

    Hi,

    I am currently studying philosophy in college and I thoroughly enjoy it. However, I am having second thoughts about whether or not it will pay the bills when the time comes, and more importantly, whether or not I will enjoy the work environment.

    I don't have much drawing experience, a few drawing courses here and there over the years but that's it. I have always dreamed about becoming a concept artist for games or movies, being the creator of fantastic images that I could share with the masses. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at drawing. I think I could become better with practice but my concern is whether or not I should take classes at my university. I am strapped for cash as it is and I don't want to take any unnecessary steps if I can just buy a book or even have a mentor here at conceptart.org.

    I should note that I'll be graduating in 2.5 years. Is that enough time to get good enough to be competitive?

    Are classes extremely important? Or should I just train myself and supplement with books? Thanks.

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    Well,I'm in no position to give anyone career advice. But i heard this sort of question being asked all the time. And the answer usually is (more or less) : you dun need to major in art or even take art classes to be an artist. The IMPORTANT thing is about how good your work is. Although taking art classes are good for improving your skill,it's not neccesary.MANY great artists are self-taught. BUT if u dun take any sort of art class at all. You gotta have to practice A LOT.You could be just as good as the one who have a degree in art,BUT it will probably take u longer or more practice to do it without some sort of guidance....

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  5. #3
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    Only when compared to philosophy could majoring in art be considered a good career decision. And if you are at the sort of university where you even can major in philosophy, then odds are the art department is terrible. Read this thread.


    Tristan Elwell
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    I don't think anyone here can answer your questions definitively because there are so many unknowns (we don't know where you're studying or what your current drawing levels looks like, etc) and everyone learns at a different pace. But based on the information you've given, I would say it's absolutely certain that you will not be at a level to compete as a professional artist in 2.5 years. Many artists graduate with BFAs and are not able to find consistent work as professional artists without spending a couple of years honing their skills and filling in the gaps after their formal education. Considering you're just getting started now and aren't even a full-time art major, that means it would be incredibly tough for you to catch up by the time you graduate. It is possible to train yourself based on information found in books and teh internets, but it still requires a lot of time, not just drawing for 10 minutes a day between classes. If you were in a situation where you could spend several days a week focusing on artistic study, it might be possible (depending on whether you're the kind of person that can really push themselves without a constant external motivation like a class), but not while you're in the middle of a full-time bachelor program.

    Personally, I think the best thing would probably be for you to enroll in an introductory drawing class next semester. That would give you a chance to test the waters a little bit, get some formal feedback on your current level, and improve your understanding in the fundamentals of drawing. Keep in mind that studio classes tend to be time-consuming and expensive because they require you buy a variety of materials up front, so just sign up for one drawing class and see how it goes. After that you should be able to make a more informed decision about where you want to go with your artistic pursuits, if you want to take more classes or even switch majors/pick up art as a minor/double-major.

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    Art might just be the least lucrative major next to philosophy! (Which is a shame because they're my two favorite subjects.)

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    I hate to ask, but what kinds of careers does one go into with a philosophy major? Besides teaching philosophy? Genuinely curious, here...

    I can think of lots of art careers, but general university art majors tend not to be good preparation for any of them. It depends on the university of course, but many university art departments are, well, sort of an afterthought... A dedicated art school might be better. Heck, even community college classes can be better than some university art classes, seeing as they often focus on useful trade skills.

    Self-teaching can be just as effective as a school, but it depends on how good you are at self-teaching. Some people do better with a school structure. Self-teaching plus a few classes can be an effective best-of-both-worlds approach.

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    I hate to ask, but what kinds of careers does one go into with a philosophy major? Besides teaching philosophy? Genuinely curious, here...
    Often used as a stepping stone into Law.

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    Thanks for the replies everyone. Queen, philosophy isn't really a career oriented field. I'm taking this path because I like the guidance it gives me. There are many jobs that a person can get with a philosophy degree such as working for a political think tank or becoming a speech writer, just to name a few. However, I'd rather not work in those fields. Concept Artist seems like a fun job.

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    Before you think about jumping into concept art. How many sketchbooks have you filled with ideas? Even if they are shitty drawings you need to have lots of ideas coming in. Fundamental drawing skills are only there to support your ideas. The most important thing is loving to draw for the sake of drawing, then get cranking on the fundamentals, then you'll know rather or not concept art is the thing for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raoul Duke View Post
    Before you think about jumping into concept art. How many sketchbooks have you filled with ideas? Even if they are shitty drawings you need to have lots of ideas coming in. Fundamental drawing skills are only there to support your ideas. The most important thing is loving to draw for the sake of drawing, then get cranking on the fundamentals, then you'll know rather or not concept art is the thing for you.
    That's one of the coolest things about art, I think. You are literally putting down what you see in your mind to share your vision with others.

    I've started a sketchbook. Most of my drawings are pretty bad. I drew a picture of a protein shaker bottle I own last night though and it turned out better than expected. I just drew a portrait of Jeffery Dahmer, now I'm going to try to come up with something myself and put that down.

    Last edited by ilostmysofa; June 30th, 2012 at 12:04 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilostmysofa View Post
    That's one of the coolest things about art, I think. You are literally putting down what you see in your mind to share your vision with others.

    I've started a sketchbook. Most of my drawings are pretty bad. I drew a picture of a protein shaker bottle I own last night though and it turned out better than expected. I just drew a portrait of Jeffery Dahmer, now I'm going to try to come up with something myself and put that down.
    Make a drawing of Jeffrey Dahmer holding a protein shaker bottle. With someone's brain inside it. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Kobryn View Post
    Art might just be the least lucrative major next to philosophy! (Which is a shame because they're my two favorite subjects.)
    Sorry Jacob but you're just perpetuating the myth. Artists make more per artifact or effort than anyone else (if you take out commercial endorsements and maybe royalty of some countries).

    10 Moste Expensive Living Artists. Granted, this was from 2004 and I think this particular list is down a few.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilostmysofa View Post
    Concept Artist seems like a fun job.
    "Seems" being the point here. Same as with this:
    being the creator of fantastic images that I could share with the masses
    I agree with dierat, test the water and find out if you actually like drawing, or are you just, as someone here put it, in love with the idea of becoming a concept artist. There's lots of different jobs in art, but not all of them will be as superficially glamorous like movie/game concept artist (by superficial I mean that they sound really super awesome to almost anyone (in the same vein as "game testing must be the greatest job ever, you just play video games!"), but in reality that too is a job and every job tends to have its moments when it's not as awesome and you don't always get there easily. For all you know you could end up doing concept art for SpongeBob Squarepants racing game.) and pretty much all of them require you to be able to do art as a job, with deadlines and clients and still enjoy it.
    So before you start choosing your art career, get into drawing first.

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  23. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Sorry Jacob but you're just perpetuating the myth. Artists make more per artifact or effort than anyone else (if you take out commercial endorsements and maybe royalty of some countries).

    10 Moste Expensive Living Artists. Granted, this was from 2004 and I think this particular list is down a few.
    It's not a myth. Jake wasn't talking about what artists can make, he was talking about the value of a degree in art. And, looking at things purely from the point of return on investment, U.S. census data consistently puts arts degrees among the least lucrative. Just because Tom Cruise makes $25 million per movie doesn't mean you should major in theater if you want to be rich.


    Tristan Elwell
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  25. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by blogmatix View Post
    Make a drawing of Jeffrey Dahmer holding a protein shaker bottle. With someone's brain inside it. :-)
    haha that's a good idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    "Seems" being the point here. Same as with this:

    I agree with dierat, test the water and find out if you actually like drawing, or are you just, as someone here put it, in love with the idea of becoming a concept artist. There's lots of different jobs in art, but not all of them will be as superficially glamorous like movie/game concept artist (by superficial I mean that they sound really super awesome to almost anyone (in the same vein as "game testing must be the greatest job ever, you just play video games!"), but in reality that too is a job and every job tends to have its moments when it's not as awesome and you don't always get there easily. For all you know you could end up doing concept art for SpongeBob Squarepants racing game.) and pretty much all of them require you to be able to do art as a job, with deadlines and clients and still enjoy it.
    So before you start choosing your art career, get into drawing first.
    You're completely right. Thanks for the input.

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  27. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    It's not a myth. Jake wasn't talking about what artists can make, he was talking about the value of a degree in art. And, looking at things purely from the point of return on investment, U.S. census data consistently puts arts degrees among the least lucrative. Just because Tom Cruise makes $25 million per movie doesn't mean you should major in theater if you want to be rich.
    Fair enough. I just tire of the "starving artist" myth. Plenty of people don't use their degrees, no matter what the degree is in. It's entirely possible fine arts degrees/programs attract the kind of people that don't use them.

    I wonder where degrees in industrial design, graphic design, tranportation design, animation and illustration rank? 'Cause when I go to the toy store...I see a lot of artists represented. Same when I go see a movie like The Avengers...helluva lot of artists roll by on those credits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    I hate to ask, but what kinds of careers does one go into with a philosophy major? Besides teaching philosophy? Genuinely curious, here...
    It's usually a pre-degree leading to law school, sometimes journalism or other majors where you need a degree just to get in. Philosophy is also attractive as an after-degree for CS majors (or the other way around) because parts of it have to do with logic and formal reasoning, which can be helpful if your research area is in theoretical CS or AI.

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    As far as a career goes, you can do anything. The only limits as to what you can accomplish are in your mind.

    As for staying in school without a specific purpose of what you are trying to get out of it.....one of the worst ideas in the world. Aside from a piece of paper (which, in art or philosophy, will be mostly worthless), you're guaranteed to get a nice debt. Unless you're paying out of pocket, in which case, quit school and go learn from some people who know and get involved with where you want to go. It'll cost less than school, you'll get direct experience, and make contacts in the industry.

    I self-published a book on the fundamentals of drawing from life.

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    When it comes to schooling, it's almost not worth it. Spending that kind of money on something that won't even promise a job in your preferred field is pretty much pointless. College isn't for everyone, especially artists. One of the first things I noticed is that those who try too hard to learn from art teachers are easily overlooked in the art world. Teaching yourself has to be the most fulfilling part of art for me. Teaching yourself will allow you to discover your own style and originality. It's ultimately your decision so do what you think is best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Only when compared to philosophy could majoring in art be considered a good career decision. And if you are at the sort of university where you even can major in philosophy, then odds are the art department is terrible. Read this thread.
    Not necessarily. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/...ighereducation

    Philosophy departments, at least those dealing in analytic philosophy, produce people with a good command of formal logic. Many philosophy programs cross over with cognitive science and even neuroscience.

    I think artists tend to get a negative view of philosophy because most artists, when they cite philosophy to justify their work, are citing continental philosophy, stuff that isn't rigorous and has more in common with cultural studies or literary analysis. That stuff is as saturated with bullshit and obfuscation as a lot of modern art.

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