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  1. #31
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    No, you should to learn the technical skills. But you have to get business skills somehow.

    The real challenge is finding teachers who: care enough to teach the skills you need, have real experience themselves (no teachers who've followed the model "those who cannot do, teach"), won't force you to ape old styles, and who will both critique you to make you stronger and be friends with you, when you need them to be.

    Good teachers are hard to find.

    But, the real challenge isn't art school, it's everything that happens afterward.

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  3. #32
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    I live in a little rural town. It has a 4 year state college (which is unusual considering the size of the town). Being 16 straight out of high school was a bit difficult especially when my parents wanted me to stay home. So I went to said rural college. I've drawn all my life, it's what I do. Like breathing. And was particularly helpful in expressing myself during those horrible teenage angsty years. So my inclination was to pursue this. Despite a relatively decent art program (Good small classes with experienced teachers) the department was heinous if because of nothing else than one of the teachers in the department who had tenure. She was pretty much the epitomy of everything that article described. Which is frightening in and of itself. She taught all the drawing and painting classes. (The department was split up into 4 different programs, 3D, Illustration, Computer Graphics and Photography).

    Needless to say I've graduated with a Psychology degree (while not necessarily useful for getting a job, it has been useful to pull ideas from in both the writing and the art that I do). But I'm 21 now and I've been wondering if I should try to seek out a diploma in the fine arts once again.

    As it stands I feel like I'm looking up a very large wall I have to climb if I want to make it as an artist. One of the projects I've been working on I've been working on for over a year, and it occured to me that it will take a minimum of 3 years to pull off. That thought has frightened me. But I'm not sure that wall's going to be any smaller if I graduate from a Fine Arts College.

    Obviously I've been into drawing for a long time. I'm well aware of the fundamentals (shading, perspective, anatomy) and I understand that it's practice that makes perfect. The thought that's occured to me is even if I go to art school, I'll still be drawing at the same rate (I'll be drawing what they want me to draw instead) and will probably improve at the same rate. Mind you I could be wrong. But deciding whether it's worth the debt, time and hassle to go to Art School has been a longstanding debate inside of me.

    The article places one of the reasons I'm struggling about going squarely front and center. I have a distinctive style and approach I take with me to art, especially since it's such a personal thing. I'm not sure I could withstand superfluous criticism over my approach rather than the actual work I produce. And I'm not sure it's worth the constant bashing. I think it's at least possible for me to make major improvement on my own. But the difficulty in being by myself instead of in the comraderie of a classroom of other students is another thought that looms.

    I guess I'm asking, through all of this, is it worth going to through the Fine Art's Programs that are available? Or should I keep trucking it on my own? I suppose this is a step away from the article, but that's immediately the question that I think it asks. At least of me.

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  4. #33
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    From an illustrator's perspective it's not all doom and gloom, though. It's true it's tough to find work (especially well-paid and regular work) doing what you love, but at the end of the day, with practice practice practice you can't fail in the end to gain the skills and become 'good'. And the plus point to an illustrator's trade is that employers still tend to take notice of a decent portfolio - which you can't fail to have if you're dedicted to it - and direct your attentions toward employers who will appreciate your work and your style. Basically, these days you can have no company or degree experience whatsoever as an illustrator but if you've got skill and it shows in your stuff, you can still be taken on easily. As such, it's never 'too late' for an illustrator to begin illustrating, and you certainly have options.

    In a lot of creative industries these days they're using experience or degrees as a filter on potential employees because there's something of a surplus of them, perhaps... but neither of those are actually a substitute for talent or skill. They don't seem too interested in my experience in such skills in the graphic design world (or even in that of fine art at times), but a good illustrator has the advantage over them if they can show right off what they can do, particularly so if they are flexible in a range of styles. It's still a tough market, and getting anywhere does require hard work and astuteness (and one should learn when they're barking up the wrong tree with their applications). Illustrators are not fine artists, however - at least, not in any of the illustration positions I've been in. If you have a distinct style and refuse to be flexible with it, or don't want to adhere to the general protocol of the freelance or commissioned illustrator, you'll be more suited to fine art and self-employment. There isn't a huge amount of money to be made in an illustration career unless you're very lucky (or extremely applicable), and most artists of our kind tend to do it for the love of having a job in which they can be creative.

    I do think that school/college/university will not teach you even a quarter of what you need to know. Pretty much every artist out there is, in the end, self-taught, through observation of the world and other works of art, and practice. I don't believe you can learn anything in art school that you can't by yourself. What it may do, though, is give you access to people who can provide you with some useful pointers, knowledge, experience, encouragement and critique. University is an enjoyable (albeit expensive) experience, and useful in more ways than one of course, and I would always encourage others to experience it if they can... but if you're wondering whether it'll endow you with artistic talent? No, it won't. Only practice and seeking out 'how it's done' by yourself will do that. Teachers thus far have taught me very little in the way of art techniques, and the assessments were only useful as a teaching tool in that they galvanise you to a task and sometimes strive to emulate the kind of briefs you'll get as a working concept artist. Other than that, I have found them far more useful as good contacts in the design world, or troves of 'inside the industry' information... which are, arguably, almost as important when trying to be a 'successful' anything.

    I guess the most important emotion to possess when trying to be a successful illustrator is determination. You have to be determined to become what you yourself can honestly regard as accomplished, and you have to be determined in your quest to make others realise it and to put your talent to use. You have to be prepared for rejections and criticisms and compromises and awkward customers sometimes and you have to continue plugging yourself regardless. If you give up easily, you should probably consider keeping your art as a hobby.

    As for whether art school is really worth the time and money - brutally speaking, I'd say no. But it does present the time and opportunity to practice and be given advice. That's what I'm doing there at the moment - more to make contacts and get information and exposure rather than schooling in illustration, even though I consider myself a capable working illustrator already. For those of you in art school, you might as well take the chance to talk to your teachers and find answers to your questions, but don't forget that the development of your skill and your future as an artist will be entirely down to your own hard graft and tenacity.

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  6. #34
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    Thank you for this great thread and article.
    I'm not going to study illustration in any university, because I've decided to become a musician. I still draw a lot, so it would be nice to get some money from illustration too if I manage to get a job.

    The problem with musicianship is that you have to be relatively young to be allowed to get an affordable formal education in the classical field, and if I decide to choose drawing instead of music I will probably never get a degree in music, whereas I might still get into art school at an older age. And this means that I could actually get a job (if I practise enough) without attending to art school. Yay because it's nearly impossible to get employed in the musical field in my country without having practised heavy networking at our only musical university

    sorry for the messiness of this post, I'm just happy. I'll go draw from life some more

    FUTILE EFFORTS <-help me I suck.
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  7. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Milligan View Post
    A good friend passed this link along to me. I apologise if it's been posted before.
    Any rate, a lot of this rings very true.

    http://www.pelavin.com/edill.html


    Peace
    Dan

    wow, you know, He came to my school to give an artist talk cause we were showing his work there. Him and Gerard Huerta. They were really awsome people to talk to.

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  8. #36
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    Very cool

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  9. #37
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    I enjoyed that article. Thanks!

    Very true. Though, I must say, degrees seem to matter to some full time employers, like LucasArts, where a masters degree can shave years off your experience necessary. And even then- if your portfolio sucks, and you have no negotiating skillz- SOL.
    Art schools need to be AT LEAST as much as they are technique schools, business schools!! The life lessons I have gotten after the fact have been about as fun as a donkey kick to the brain pan. If not funner.

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  10. #38
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    As of February 2010, I can provide this update and a piece of advice.

    I'm in a place where it doesn't really matter where I end up. I don't want to say "I don't care where I work" as that wouldn't be true. I just feel that there are nuances to the creative world that I didn't see a few years ago, which I didn't take into consideration in school. In school, what I should've done was take up a few more fields of study instead of just concept art. I know this a concept art forum and that it's the primary thing here, but I would say that picking up a few more skills outside of the concept art field will improve your survivability chances once you have to go to "the real world".

    I ended up doing a few children's books, which was something I never would have considered in college. This leads to my piece of advice: Always ask questions about everything. Even if it's not a field you're interested in, like web design of kids' books. Gathering knowledge about that will help in unforeseen ways, the ways you may not see while you're studying in college. Also, if you don't know something that feels like it should be obvious, don't be afraid to ask the question. I was at times and I think I may have lost some important knowledge because of it.

    I wouldn't say be a jack-of-all-trades, as that will spread you too thin and doesn't look or sound good to perspective employers. Just keep your mind open to possibilities.

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  11. #39
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    As of February 2010, I can provide this update and a piece of advice.

    I'm in a place where it doesn't really matter where I end up. I don't want to say "I don't care where I work" as that wouldn't be true. I just feel that there are nuances to the creative world that I didn't see a few years ago, which I didn't take into consideration in school. In school, what I should've done was take up a few more fields of study instead of just concept art. I know this a concept art forum and that it's the primary thing here, but I would say that picking up a few more skills outside of the concept art field will improve your survivability chances once you have to go to "the real world".

    I ended up doing a few children's books, which was something I never would have considered in college. This leads to my piece of advice: Always ask questions about everything. Even if it's not a field you're interested in, like web design of kids' books. Gathering knowledge about that will help in unforeseen ways, the ways you may not see while you're studying in college. Also, if you don't know something that feels like it should be obvious, don't be afraid to ask the question. I was at times and I think I may have lost some important knowledge because of it.

    I wouldn't say be a jack-of-all-trades, as that will spread you too thin and doesn't look or sound good to perspective employers. Just keep your mind open to possibilities.

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