Art Schools vs. Traditional Four Year Universities...
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    Question Art Schools vs. Traditional Four Year Universities...

    Hey all,

    I've been checking out the various postings in the art school section and noticed very few people are from traditional four year universities. Are four year universities to be avoided?

    It sounds to me that people who go to four year fine arts schools (e.g. - USC, ASU, UC Davis, UT-Austin...these are some schools I had friends go to and they have zero career when it comes to an art career) vs. art schools like Ringling, CalArts, etc, etc...

    What are your thoughts?

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    The vast majority of university art departments are worthless. There are exceptions, but they're few and far between.

    Last edited by Elwell; April 5th, 2007 at 09:55 PM.

    Tristan Elwell
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    Help for 4 YR University Grad

    I completely agree. I went to ASU. It's a nice enough school, but not for artists. I didn't have any idea what the difference between a private art school and a four year university were when it came to getting a job in the creative field. I thought the biggest difference was cost, and there was no one around to tell me differently. I certainly couldn't tell just from looking at the websites--and at 18, with worthless high school counselors, I didn't even know what to look for.

    So, how do I go about getting a job as a concept artist?
    Building my portfolio?

    I have the foundation in fine arts, and I'm working on the technical stuff (like, I know Photoshop & Illustrator, but I'm still working on Corel Paint--gotta get a new computer and the program first).

    How do I know which direction to go with my portfolio to get where I want to be?

    I'm 25 now, and though I have a BFA, and a wonderful life...I'm still working on getting my art career together. I've spent a lot of time just looking for answers.

    Now I'm tuned in here, and I think I can get the answers I need from people who really know.
    Help!

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    I was, for a while, VERY strongly considering attending a 4-year university instead of Ringling. I went to a lecture by a guy who's in the industry, and I asked him his opinion about the difference between the two schools. I'm interested in animation, which is a little different from other forms of art, but his quote has pretty much stuck with me.

    "By going somewhere like Ringling, you're going to get a far more rounded art education."

    That really stuck with me because a lot of parents want to send their kids to 4-year universities because they want them to be "more rounded." Like it has been previously said in this thread, you are going to get a much higher quality art education by going to an art school (a good one, that is.) You might not come out being very involved in extra side activities. You won't have a huge amount of volunteer work under your belt, and you probably won't be able to play intramural sports. However, when it comes down to it, are you going to use those activities in your real life? No. Will any of those extra activities help you get a job in the VERY competetive field of art? No.

    While I'm still young, naieve, and 18, I firmly believe that art school is the way to go if you want to be an artist of any type.

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    I don't think it would be a good idea to go to a traditional school if you want a definite job in the arts--HOWEVER, that doesn't mean you should avoid universities!

    Look- as a person who's been at a 4-yr university and who is actually at one right now-----

    I don't know what schools they're talking about, but distinguished and even less distinguished public universities have just a good an art department as some of the art schools out there. Check the traditional schools' departments out. I just toured Texas State's department a few months ago and it was phenomenal- with studio spaces the size of an art school's. Just remember that it all depends on you. I went to a crappy high school whose art department was funded with about 3 bottles of paint. Yet, I'm a great university, and have just been accepted as a transfer to RISD (though I probably can't afford to go). I decided to transfer to an art school because it will now better suit my needs. I'm quite glad I started off at a traditional school, because I got to take all of the courses I really wanted to besides studio classes. It also let me definitely decide that the arts was really I wanted to do. It gave me time to clarify exactly what I wanted to do with my degree. You cannot take a good variety of liberal arts courses at an art school. Most art schools teach you "liberal arts", but the courses they offer are limited. But then again, being well-rounded was very important to me as an artist. Knowledge gives inspiration. If you went to a traditional school, you can knock out your basics and then transfer into the REAL stuff. (Not including RISD- where you can take anything you want at Brown (if you can get your schedule to work), but RISD's also about $40,000 a year. A public university will be about $30,000 CHEAPER.
    I always knew I wanted to be an artist, and after I went through 2 yrs at a trad univ (where I'm at now), I decided that I need to go to art school.

    If you know exactly what you want to do, like strictly be an animator or graphic artist- go to art school.
    If you want to explore a bit, transfer to an art school from a traditional univ.
    All in all, it's up to what you want. Don't let anyone tell you that you cannot be an artist if you don't go to art school.

    Let me know if you have any questions about a traditional school!

    about me: I'm a sophomore at Trinity University, a distinguished private university in SATX. I do not know where I'm transferring yet.

    Last edited by mellis; April 5th, 2007 at 01:37 AM.
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    I think where I'm getting at is that traditional art students from 4 year programs will lack the techinical skills and portfolios to get them exposure to industry.

    For example, my wife has a great fine arts portfolio on mostly oil, however, she does not have a digital portfolio on Painter, Photoshop. She was not given practical knowledge on the digital programs that many industry artist use.

    Therefore, she has graduated with a BFA, but every one who see her portfolio loves what she can do, but questions how she can translate her work into the digital world. It's extremely frustating because they want you to have experience, but you can't get experience without get a job first. Then they want you to be proficient in these like CS2, Painter, etc, etc, etc, but my Wife's Art Program only had a fine arts studio so she couldn't get the programs.

    Basically, we have to buy all the programs and teach everything to ourselves because the school did not provide the technical skills to be desirable in industry.

    Basically it's all a self-learning process. I sometimes wonder if it's probably best for her to go to a art school like a Ringling and get another BFA or MFA so she can get the formal training in the programs and the techiques.

    I also have a cousin who was a painter at UC Davis. He was a great painter, but again, he couldn't break into industry because he lacked the techinical skills as everything he ever did was straight on canvas. He can't even land a job in industry so he's an art teacher at an elementary school.

    Everyone my wife has meet in industry, whether at a design firm, advertising agency, or the video game industry, have gone to art school instead of a traditional four year university. A few of them only had associate degrees too. But there was one main thing in common...they all had digital art portofolios. My wife was never told to produce a single piece of digital media throughout her BFA program.

    I only know of one person who was from a traditional four-year and he was my old college roomie from USC and the reason why is because the gaming industry directly recruits at the school now, which many of your art schools had recuiters and insiders coming into the schools for years. My wife never had industry speakers come to her four-year university .

    Well, our lesson learned though is if our kids ever want to become artists, we are sending them to an Art School and not a four-year university .

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    From what I understand from Ringling's Illustration program (my friends who are illustrators) that the illustration program is much more fine-artsey, being, much more traditional paint focused then digital. Though, they do have digital classes, but they don't really focus on that as much.

    Maybe check out Art Centers illustration program, I thought they were a little more digital focused, but you'd have to either call and ask or find someone who goes there to make sure.

    Maybe try a workshop or something? Otherwise ask some people on the CGtalk forum who do digital paintings, and I'm sure they might have some advice or places your could look into that would help you with that.

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    Breaking Into the Industry w/ 4 YR University BFA--The Biggest Barriers

    I agree with everyone. Most art programs at most 4 YR universities are worthless in that they provide you with absolutely no guidance or feedback when it comes to entering the creative industry. You can get a decent foundation in the fine arts, and that is still important for any artist. However, all of the instructors at 4 yr schools have stayed in academia--so, really, what do they know about being a concept artist for a gaming company? or an art director?

    Okay, so here's where I find myself, for lack of a better word, stuck.
    I went to a 4 yr school, ASU, thinking that I'd get what I needed to work in my field as long as I was a skilled enough artist. You can imagine the disillusionment when I did all that work only to discover that, though everyone says I'm a good artist and they love my work and my style, they can't see me in the jobs I want because I don't have a digital portfolio. Plus, I'm married, and we have a beautiful home. We have other dreams in life, like having children and so on. We do just fine, but bending over backwards to try and get another degree from an art school would be too much. Not to mention, we can't afford it--at least not til all our kids (after we have 'em) are through college, and that's like 25 or 30 years from now. But, I don't know the future, so an MFA from a kick butt art school could be in my future before then. In the meantime...

    The task at hand: Learn the programs (Corel Paint), & Build myself a digital portfolio. Look at what everyone has said on this thread so far. Yes, it's better to go to an ART school rather than a four year university, but what is the one thing you need no matter where you go?
    A DIGITAL PORTFOLIO, TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE & SKILL.

    Here is where the opening lies for artists like myself. I can teach myself these programs. I can use tutorials, evening classes, online classes, workshops, books, and seek out help from fellow artists on forums like this one (which totally rocks, by the way).

    As long as I focus on my artwork everyday, and use the resources available, I can get into this industry of ours. Anyone can. Dogged determination is the name of the day, no matter what.
    Because even if you go to an art school, if your portfolio stinks or is pitifully thin, you won't make it.

    Networking and a great portfolio are what get the best jobs, not the name of the school you went to.

    If I can teach myself enough to get an internship at an ad agency, which I did, then I can teach myself this stuff too. Anyone can.

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    I have to agree and disagree with some of you. My University isn't a big 12 college but just a little smaller. The art department I'm in is excellent, sure it's not perfect and it lacks some classes that I want to take but I find myself get a very good intro to the arts. I've never really taken my art work serious before but now that I'm in college, I take it very serious. I'm staying here for a while so that I can knock out some gen eds, save some money, gain some more knowledge and skills, plus there are other fields other than art that I have taken interest in other fields and I want to incoporate them in my life. I love art but there are other things I feel I need and want to do in my life.
    My uni focuses mainly on graphic design(the art department anyways), but as of now I am considering illustration. I have improved so much in just a small amount of time, and I am excited to see where I will be a year or two from now. 3-4 months ago I didn't even know how to shade properly or draw the figure right, now I am doing a million times better. My professor told me I was top 3 in class, I felt honored even though we are a smaller school, and I feel there are some peeps in class that are much better in skills. I know everyone says don't take praise to serious, I try not to when I know I can do better but sometimes you just have to say "screw what those other guys said about taking in praise". People don't give themselves enough credit as it is. Regardless of getting praise or not, I have to continue to do better, the time is now to do my best,and push my limits; when the future of my life dreams is on the line I choose to be beyond what is acceptable.
    Sorry if I blabbed on there for a sec. But my point is, it's up to the individual on what they put into their work, a school can't teach you that, ringling or whatever art school can have awesome artist but the small town university can have one two. The school is just a small piece of the pie, the artist and what he is fills up the rest.

    I'm becoming more of a renissance man every day.
    Yea i'm that awesome.
    The lord is my light and salvation-so why should I be afraid?-Psalm 27:1
    Jesus said,"Stop your doubting and believe!"-John 20:27
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    Darn typo's.

    I'm becoming more of a renissance man every day.
    Yea i'm that awesome.
    The lord is my light and salvation-so why should I be afraid?-Psalm 27:1
    Jesus said,"Stop your doubting and believe!"-John 20:27
    God has said,"I will never, never fail you nor forsake you."-Hebrews 13:5
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    In terms of being able to take classes in, like, quantum physics... a lot of art schools are in cities large enough to have general colleges as well. I've never heard of anyone else with a Brown/RISD set up, but it shouldn't be too hard to get those classes in if you really want to.

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    Well, I'm currently following a fine arts degree for 3 years with an option to get a master degree. (4th year). Before that I did a bachelor degree in Computer Science (I think that's the american name equivalent, lots of programming, lots of ps/painter/<insert really long list>.)
    And before that I did information technology, which was 2 years of the last stuff. So even more programming and visual stuff.
    + 2 year of night classes of modeldrawing.(2 to go)

    Till this day, most people think I'm insane for combining these two. ARTS? AND COMPUTERS? GOSH DARN TO HECK. But if you add all of this up, I get 5 years of Photoshop, painter, illustrator, flash, macromedia director, visual basic.NET, c++, c#, c, asp.NET, Php, Java, Xhtml, Xml, access, excell, word, powerpoint, photography, computer assembly, ...

    + 3 years of drawing/painting in fine arts and being able to combine those things on a computer.

    So a combination of computer classes from age 15-18 and art classes from age 19 to 21-25 might be best. That way you have the best of both really.
    That way you'll take your art quite seriously at the age of 19 and perhaps some night classes for photoshop. They do give a degree you know.

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    First of all, I do go to a four-year university, and yes the studio arts department here is shameful (they are throwing $12 million at the facility for renovation but leaving the faculty as is).

    After my first two semesters I learned enough on campus and online to know that my school can teach certain things exceptionally well (art history, humanities, non-western literature, etc.) and provides wonderful resources (general/fine arts/science libraries, professors that welcome student interaction out of class, grants and fellowships for the arts). I also found out that I learn completely different things from teachers, the Internet, and libraries, so I try to change my learning approach for each. Whether you go to an art school or a university, they provide resources that you need to tailor to your needs, and the holes that will inevitably appear are the sole responsibility of you, the student, to fill in.

    By taking advantage of your school's strengths and avoiding its weaknesses, you can get the most out of your current situations (experience the apparent weaknesses firsthand unless there are substantial warning signs). There are people and places out there that, whether or not you expect them to, will positively affect your future. So be open-minded about who and what can help you with your goals.

    Having the determination to be proactive led me to do the following last year:
    - seek out two teachers off-campus that had atelier backgrounds in painting and drawing
    - visit Donato Giancola's open studios in Brooklyn (and convincing one of my atelier teachers to go as well) days before attending the CA.org Montreal Workshop alone
    - work part-time at the campus library and letting my supervisor know that I worked best dealing with art books
    - obtain a school grant to continue my painting studies
    - host art_addict in Boston, which led to our plans to study painting and drawing in France this summer
    - countless hours logged on art sites to learn from others' critiques and opinions

    I attribute much of this proactive attitude to the fact that no one else on campus shares my ambitions or interests, and instead I treat the community of CA.org as "the rest of my class." In the Montreal Workshop, Dan Dos Santos said it best: when we graduate, we are competing with him and the artists he looks up to. If those aren't your standards, you are likely to be blinded by mediocrity. A multitude of artists on CA.org have displayed artistic standards and work ethics that make mediocrity flat out unacceptable.

    ~ Stephen

    Last edited by darkwolfb87; April 17th, 2007 at 01:29 AM.
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