Dear CA forum - I have a bit of a problem and I really need your advice.
Yesterday afternoon I had a tutorial at college that turned into a two hour long argument which left me aggravated and not sure of what to do next. The weakness of my position is undoubtedly down to my own ignorance. I don't know if I was being unreasonable, or if I should have been even more forceful. I thought you might be able to shed some light on the matter, and I'd really appreciate your insights.
I'm currently on the third year of an Illustration degree course in London, UK. The aim of yesterday's tutorial session was to show the tutor my work to date, for them to get an idea of how and what I can and do produce, and for me to re-evaluate what I've done and where I'm going. The tutor would then set me some individually tailored projects for this semester (before Christmas) based on their assessment of where I'm at.
I went into the tutorial with a clear idea of what I wanted to get from it; I wanted to be set projects where the objectives would be technical improvement in certain key areas I'm weak in, and to develop my portfolio. I would like to be employable as an artist, somewhere near the standards I aspire, when I finish my degree next May. Concept art is the area that particularly excites me. These are, I think, ambitious and worthy goals.
I suspect I came unstuck in the tutorial partly because the tutor in question doesn't know anything about concept art and wasn't prepared to entertain the idea of it, but mostly because I wasn't able to present a clear and present set of reasons for how and what exactly I should be doing. The projects I ended up being set were as follows;
a) A 20 minute self portrait every day for 3 weeks, at the same time of day each day. I'm to do this regardless of where I am, I have to stop and do a self portrait.
< Personal Thoughts > Hmm, ok, nice project, the kind of thing I'd do anyway. I regularly draw portraits in weird circumstances, so why is she setting this to me as a project as though it's going to drastically alter my artistic development? I dont thinks she paid attention to my sketch pads.
b) Re-make a storyboard I drew for a 10 minute film last autumn as a graphic novel, screen printed.
< Personal thoughts > Yeah, ok, another nice project, again the kind of thing I'd take on as a personal task. I just think it's a bit of a tangent to the direction I should be stretching myself towards.
c) To go into weird and 'unreal' places to do drawings - places such as abattoirs and back stage of theatres, producing 'reportage' illustrations of the scenes, with the ultimate aim of producing a set of posters for macabre films.
< Personal thoughts > Ok, right up to the film posters bit which I have little interest in producing, this could be really interesting. I love the idea of blagging my way into crazy unusual places and capturing the atmosphere – this is totally something I'd be interested in doing and can see the point in. But why the set of macabre film posters for the National Film Theatre?
d) To be decided.
< Personal thoughts > There's potential but somehow I've become pessimistic about how useful this is going to be.
I started to form the impression that she was setting me projects she wanted to see in the end of year show, that would fit in with the overall course portfolio for the year. She kept saying "you could do this" or "you could do that" to which I could only reply "well yeah, I could do pretty much anything, but what do I *NEED* to be doing to develop as an artist?" to which I never recieved a satisfactory answer. In fact I dont think it entered into her reasoning at all. She did say that my drawing ability is "very good", as though it were an optional bonus. That irked me beyond measure - there's a gulf of room for improvement.
Industry pro 'Merekat' (K. Perry - http://www.merekatcreations.com/ ) has been wonderfully helpful in giving me crits, advice and encouragement over the last few years, and her view is that I should should be studying in several key areas, namely concept design, anatomy, rendering materials, observational drawing of a variety of things such as machines and buildings to expand my repertory, and so on. I can only agree with her that I need to be stronger in the areas she suggests, and would like to do projects to improve, however I'm finding myself frustrated by my tutors at university.
The only problem with having Mere advise me is partly that we're already on exactly the same wavelength so while I appreciate her knowledge and experience, talking to her doesn't provide me with any insight into the workings of the minds of my college tutors. The main problem is that she lives and works a quarter of the way around the world away, and that's just a little far for me to confidently base an accurate view of the concept art industry and 'market' closer to home, in the UK. I dont mind the idea of moving in the future, but right now the issue is presenting the tutors at college with a reasonable proposition of how I intend to proceed.
I need to find out more about the Concept art Industry in London and the UK by meeting professional artists and going into studios to talk to artists and directors. Having found out a few things this way I think I'll be in a better position to confront my tutors. As it is I must appear to them as too much of an unknown quantity to meet half way. Next semester I get to do one big project on something to be decided closer to the time – I'd like it to be relevant to concept art.
So what do you think? Should I go ahead with the eclectic projects my college tutor has set me to stop making waves and allow my degree go smoothly, or should I go on the war path and demand to do projects that address my weaknesses as outlined by Merekat? If so, how do I make my case?