Results 1 to 20 of 20
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Westminster, Colorado
    Posts
    232
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Art School Discontents

    Hey I'm currently a junior studying illustration at an art school in Denver, and the more time I spend at school the more uneasy I get about the whole thing, I'm curious if any of you have similar feelings...

    I think when I began my education here I had thought it would be a place where I could be exposed to new ideas and learn in an open environment. I kind of expected it to be a collaboration of sorts between like minded people who came together more or less for the betterment of all involved. However, as time goes on it seems like a lot of what I observe at school is a whole lot of self-promotion, major egos, and students/ instructors draining students emotionally and mentally and a lot of petty bullshit. It really seems like people take a lot more from each other than they are willing to give. I've watched many of my fellow class mates drop out and move on to other things/ become really disenfranchised with the whole thing as a result of faculty, etc. And not necessarily people who "had no right to be there," but some real hard working and talented folks. I'm a bit concerned because I'm starting to identify with those people a lot more than I ever had before; I don't want art school to kill art for me.... I would love to hear any thoughts or similar experiences- or dissimilar ones for that matter too.


  2. Hide this ad by registering as a member
  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Hudson River valley, NY
    Posts
    16,202
    Thanks
    4,876
    Thanked 16,685 Times in 5,021 Posts
    Transfer.

    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    "Work is more fun than fun."
    -John Cale

    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    6,023
    Thanks
    2,164
    Thanked 3,346 Times in 1,120 Posts
    Shitty teachers make shitty programs.

    Before my current graphic design coordinator worked at ym school, it was basically a bunch of fine artists (and I use that term very loosely) who were essentially running the program. The quality work of the students was not only horrible, but didn't even reflect current trends in design. They had no proper schooling on the concepts of good design nor the programs that were being used.

    I had the misfortune of being with one of the dinosaurs left from the old program when I first started. the class was 'intro to graphic design' which is bassically a foundations course in current design. What did we do for our first assignment? (i will never forget this as long as I live)

    We brought in magazines
    We were told to find a picture and cut it out
    we were told to find a word and cut it out.
    we were told to pass the word to the person to our left
    we were told to paste both on a piece of paper.

    Done. then we had a disussion about it. This was actually for marks.

    The rest of the crap she put us through was also rediculous, but that project will be forever charred into my brain as one of the most pointless exercises in history. Next year for the class we had our coordinator as our prof. Instant difference. Making connections with sayings and visual expression of them, open critique, thumbnails the whole shebang. Business owners and design professionals say that that quality of work has so improved from our course that it went from a below average design school to one of the best (arguably the best, but I won't say anything since I have no real experience) in ontario.

    Teachers = the quality of your learning. If you're not getting anywhere or the atmosphere is killing you, listen to mister Elwell.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    tx
    Posts
    2,150
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 13 Times in 5 Posts
    yeah.. definitely get out of THERE.. but go somewhere better. dont judge all art schools based on this crappy one, and dont let it destroy art for you, just because the faculty there are incompetent.

    and just as a word of comfort, its like that in other schools.. not just art schools. but you cant let the bad places get you down. get away, rasurface for another breath of air.. then dive back in. there are plenty of other art schools out there, its not over yet.. - JAG
    it's only after you've lost everything, that you're free to do anything..

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Californication
    Posts
    1,091
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 39 Times in 20 Posts
    You don't need to go to school to learn and appreciate art.

    I had thought it would be a place where I could be exposed to new ideas and learn in an open environment. I kind of expected it to be a collaboration of sorts between like minded people who came together more or less for the betterment of all involved.
    You can really do that anywhere. Especially online here.
    "If one advances confidently in the direction of
    his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he
    has imagined, he will meet with a success
    unexpected in common hours."
    - H.D. Thoreau

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    229
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Exile- I went through a very similar scenario. I was attending the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2002, my third (of five) years. The first two years are basic foundation and it was great. Lots of catching up and lots of learning and practice, but after I went into my major - ILLUSTRATION - I found that I wasn't getting the tools I wanted. No one would critique, and if they did, they were deemed "mean"... The instrictors never clearly communicated that most illustration is freelance - they never exposed us to the job market or what 'positions' we should be looking for in a couple years. We weren't encouraged to go in a direction, but to 'try a different method' - usually one that the instructor seemed to prefer... and when it came down to award-time, the only few that were recognized for anything (scholarships, etc) were those that seemed to do their own thing and ignore the vibe.

    Needless to say, I got a summer job doing live caricatures and didn't go back. Since then I've worked as a retail caricaturist (which I feel was MORE valuable than school) for over 4 years, traveled the world, met and befrended amazing artists, joined organizations and networked and successfully make a living at character design, illustration and fine art.

    Just make sure you do what you feel is right, but have your plan. It may not be a direct shot to your goals, but if you find a place where you work hard and are happy, go there.

    That first summer away, I worked harder and happier than I ever had. I loved what I was doing and I was growing. School isn't for everyone, for all 4 or 5 years.

    I may go back one day, but it'd be for different reasons in a different time and place.
    JoeBluhm.com
    RejectsTheBook.com
    joebluhm.blogspot.com

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    6,023
    Thanks
    2,164
    Thanked 3,346 Times in 1,120 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Atlantis View Post
    I disagree. Teachers can help, but they're only a tool; you're the deciding factor.

    Even if you're in a bad situation, you can still make your own success. Some of the best artists I've ever seen have been self-made.

    But yeah, if you're going to do school, might as well make it a good one.
    For clarification, if you are in school, then teachers = the quality of your learning. Sure you have to be interested, but even the most dedicated student will progress far slower when he/she's fed useless assignments and works in an oppressive environment. If you're learning all of your stuff from other sources other than school, then you're not really going to school. You're attending classes then learning on your own, which then means my comment doesn't apply.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Westminster, Colorado
    Posts
    232
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
    Thank you all for sharing your opinions on the topic. Rhineville and Atlantis, I think I share both of your opinions on some level. On one hand it seems like it would be far easier to learn in an environment where you feel encouraged and comfortable, and are studying under artists you find to be inspiring. However I don't necessarily think that it's impossible to do well under some less than inspiring instructors- certainly much harder though! I guess what it boils down to is that I'm going to perhaps just make the best out of a crappy situation. Transfering schools isn't (as much as I might want to) an option due to there being only one illustration program offered at any of the schools around here. And it's extremely expensive to attend a private college in state let alone move to a different state.

    Lately a lot of my discouragement in classes comes from feeling like I have little or no freedom. It seems like my instructors have a very set idea about what they expect to get out of each project and leave very very little room for experimentation/deviation/diversity- which to me seems bizarre because I would imagine most colleges to want or even expect a bit of diversity... After all, it seems very counter-intuitive to want to grow a crop of artists who are trained to produce the exact same generic batch of work.

    Luckily I have less than a week left of classes then it's summer break, so I think I need to take a long hard look at my current situation and decided if what I am forced to give is in fact worth what I'm getting in return.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Berkeley, CA
    Posts
    254
    Thanks
    6
    Thanked 6 Times in 3 Posts
    I remember skipping a class once, because the class next door was going on a sketch trip to the zoo, so I tagged along. I also used to leave my figure drawing class to go upstairs and sketch in a workshop because the model was more interesting than the teacher downstairs droning on about the same thing instead of having us actually draw. Sure, it sometimes meant slipping grades, but it's ultimately your education. As long as the resources are there, it's up to you to decide how to use it and what to ignore.
    Otherwise, refer to response number 1: Transfer. Or go self-ed.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    277
    Thanks
    38
    Thanked 89 Times in 32 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Rhineville View Post
    For clarification, if you are in school, then teachers = the quality of your learning. Sure you have to be interested, but even the most dedicated student will progress far slower when he/she's fed useless assignments and works in an oppressive environment. If you're learning all of your stuff from other sources other than school, then you're not really going to school. You're attending classes then learning on your own, which then means my comment doesn't apply.
    I certainly see your point, and I think it's valid, for the most part. School can be a help to a dedicated student, but even the best school won't make up for a lack of discipline on the student's part. I've learned a lot from art teachers, and I've had plenty of teachers that were useless. I think you're going to pretty much have to take the good with the bad, at least in most places.

    I've failed classes because I skipped the silly assignments and used the resources offered to my own ends. And I've aced classes that I felt were suited to moving me toward my goals. It's worked fairly well for me so far, I think. What I'm trying to say is, if the student relies completely on the school, (s)he's never going to get the education they could if they took their learning into their own hands.

    So I guess we're really not disagreeing at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Dutton View Post
    Sure, it sometimes meant slipping grades, but it's ultimately your education. As long as the resources are there, it's up to you to decide how to use it and what to ignore.
    That's just what I mean.

    Also, ExilE, don't forget to raid the school library!

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    2,522
    Thanks
    438
    Thanked 437 Times in 209 Posts
    Second Mike and Elwell. You are in charge of your education and consequently your life/career. If things aren't happening as they should, then it's purely up to you to make them happen.
    Brendan Noeth


  13. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    176
    Thanks
    15
    Thanked 25 Times in 8 Posts
    Art school seems like such a tricky subject to begin with because it seems that a lot of the time what is a good school to some is a bad school to others. Right now I'm just finishing up my third year of a five year BFA degree. Not in illustration or anything like that (which is what I'd like to be doing) but it's in the right general direction

    What I have found is that so much of art school is what you make of it. My first year I was excited and things went well. The next year wasn't as great and this year was a down-right hell, but now I feel like I must finish the degree as I am almost done it anyways. What I've realized now though is that there are going to be the profs that hate your work or are just plain bad teachers, but if the education is there in front of you, you shouldn't let a bad teacher stop you from achieving it.

    In the end the grades really dont matter. Like Mike Dutton said, he skipped classes because they were useless and made the most of the courses that really mattered to him. And that's the key...really in the end when people see your degree on a resume, they aren't going to look at the grade, they're just goin to look at the fact you have it. So make it yours, work the way you want to work and if they're not teaching you what you want to know, find a way to learn it. You get out of the school what you want to get out of it. If you make the projects yours as much as possible and you're truly enjoying it, there isn't a teacher or grade or anything else that's going to tell you otherwise.

    And if you dont feel like you can do it in that school then figure out how you can. For me I'm going to be toughing it the next two years...probably butting heads with profs, but as long as I'm doing it the way I really want to be doing it, then I will feel like I've gotten my money's worth.

    Hope this helps just a little!
    Cheers,
    Dave
    Check out my Website! http://www.davehiemstra.ca------------------

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    901
    Thanks
    146
    Thanked 128 Times in 74 Posts
    i had problems at 6th form with 2/3 of my art teachers. the two of them were new due to a retirement and illness. One of them had never taught A-level art and wasn't qualified to do so (she used to work in a womens prison) and the other was a 'fine artist' and wanted us to do very abstract stuff. Most of us were hoping to go on to illustration/animation and such things which would not have benefitted from throwing paint at canvas. Over all it was a pretty useless two years in most respects but i got a piece of paper with a B on it and only because i ignored most of what they said.
    - the people that took advice from the teachers came out with much lower grades than the people that ignored them.

    However the last teacher - knew what he was talking about and i felt i learned a great deal from him (though he was ganged up on by the other two so couldn't make a difference in how we were being tutored which was unfortunate)

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    32
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Mixed feelings about my time there

    I went through similar things (glad to see I wasn't alone, another reason I'm happy to be here at CA) but the most important thing for me was to have access to the labs, shops and the people I DID get along with. Generally I was in the wrong place to pursue my conceptual interests of narrative, story etc... but had I not attended I wouldn't have had the great space in which to work. I also did lots of research on my main drawing teachers (most teachers have their writings available on campus if they wrote anything) and planned my schedules around them. I WISH I had better painting instructors but much of the staff was retiring so I missed out on many of them. By the time I got into painting classes I had teachers with the attitude of "Why paint? It's stupid to paint! Painting it dead and so is art!" Etc....

    Your counselor may also be able to force classes to fit into the degree. If you get sneaky enough (like I had to) you can take a class your really interested in and MAKE it fit into certain requirements or do directed studies to fullfill requirements. Either way I suggest taking your main classes, picking up a shop/studio (sculpture, painting, ceramics) class that gives you access to tools you'll need and keeping a written journal of what you want to get out of your time there so you can better focus on it.

    If you transfer you may get grief about credits transferring and or you may find yourself among another gaggle of bad teachers and egomaniacs, so proceede with caution.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Bristol, England
    Posts
    406
    Thanks
    22
    Thanked 94 Times in 68 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by kovah View Post
    i had problems at 6th form with 2/3 of my art teachers. the two of them were new due to a retirement and illness. One of them had never taught A-level art and wasn't qualified to do so (she used to work in a womens prison) and the other was a 'fine artist' and wanted us to do very abstract stuff. Most of us were hoping to go on to illustration/animation and such things which would not have benefitted from throwing paint at canvas. Over all it was a pretty useless two years in most respects but i got a piece of paper with a B on it and only because i ignored most of what they said.
    - the people that took advice from the teachers came out with much lower grades than the people that ignored them.

    However the last teacher - knew what he was talking about and i felt i learned a great deal from him (though he was ganged up on by the other two so couldn't make a difference in how we were being tutored which was unfortunate)
    Ach One of my art teachers tried that at the beginning of year 12 but I kicked up a fuss and they decided to let me do what I wanted I got an A though.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    1,661
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked 10 Times in 8 Posts
    I went through something similar.

    I dropped out of art school as well (Art Institute of Seattle) after 1.5 years for the same reasons you have. I felt the quality of the faculty and the low standards of the program did not justify the high price. So I left voluntarily and became self-ed. It took almost 3 years, but I eventually landed a job in the game industry a while back as a character animator, working on Xbox360, Wii, and PS2 titles.

    You don't really need school to become a well trained, talented and ambitious artist.

    However, in retrospect, I wish I had just stayed. There was a lot more I could have gotten out of the Art Institute if I were just willing to put a lot more into it. You get what you give, know what I'm sayin'? Plus, I met a lot of great artists in the labs and remain close friends with them to this day. That alone was worth it. In addition, the period after I dropped out, to right before landing my sweet ass job today, was the WORST 3 years of my life and I would never want to experience that sense of drifting and hoplesness again. Perhaps it's those kinds of experiences that makes you even stronger and appreciative, I suppose, but those times were not fun or happy whatsoever.

    It's up to you to take control of your art training. If some classes are making you do BULLSHIT (like cutting things out of magazines and pasting it on paper) the just do the BARE MINIUM to pass. Get a C or a D. Do you whole project in 2 days and spend the rest of the week doing life drawing, illustration, animation, or whatever it is you are striving for.

    I wouldn't recommend dropping out because it isn't any easier than just staying. In fact, it's a lot harder. But then again, it is possible. IF you've got the motivation and spirit to face self-doubt and dissapoint on a daily basis for years to come. And it's not just a matter of being patient... it's also a matter of REALLY TRYING and practicing and sitting in your room hours each day, after work when you're exhausted from your shitty day job, to forgo seeing friends and having fun because you have to get through chapter 3 of 3DS Max bible even though you can't understand any of that shit (yet). You can't come home tired from your day job and look at your computer and think... "i'll do it tommorow." You're screwed when you start doing that.

    Ask yourself... do you honestly feel that you would thrive even more without the direction of school? If so, then good for you and go for it. If not, then stay.

    You can always transfer as well. If they give you crap about transfering (your credits don't carry over, more tuition, etc... screw em'. that's just their way of trying to keep you where you are at! They care more about getting tuition from you than they care about your future and your happiness.
    Last edited by CaptainInsano; April 22nd, 2007 at 05:28 PM.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Bristol, UK
    Posts
    327
    Thanks
    113
    Thanked 104 Times in 38 Posts
    Funnily enough the most amazing artist and teacher I had was when i was 16-17 at the UK equivalent of High school. He taught life drawing at the royal academy in Bristol, was a sculptor and photographer. He was constantly exploring new techniques and I really loved the guy. Unfortunately I was an arrogant little sixteen year old and never really appreciated how brilliant he was. However I would never of pursued art without his encouragement. He will always be for me one of my guiding angels. I've just remade contact with him. He instantly started telling me about the Guggenheim museum in NY that he'd just visited and was already stoking my enthusiasm again. If you aren't receiving the kind of input which makes you want to love and explore this world of art then frankly, reject it and go out and find someone that does. It's your life not theirs.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,083
    Thanks
    45
    Thanked 58 Times in 45 Posts
    I agree that a lot of your education comes down to the individual but this seems to me to be the nature nurture debate. Its a mix of factors, but you definitely get what you put in.

    I'm studying illustration at Westminster Uni in London and the course is a joke, self ed to me is not an option as I have already paid close to £10,000 for these two years and it seems a waste not to stick it out for another year just to get the qualification. It is also impossible to transfer at this stage.

    I personally don't want to feel that i have to struggle against my education to learn something. The reason that I wanted to go to art school was to meet like minded people to help keep me motivated and inspired and learn from each other. To be exposed to bigger ideas than my own by my peers and those wiser than me.

    However in this postmodernist world, life drawing has been deemed irrelevant by my school so I travel to the other side of London every Monday to go to a free class for art students. I try to learn what I can from tutorials and my own work and studies but I feel hampered by lack of guidance. I feel that capable tutors would be able to help point me in the right direction and save me a lot of time going in circles before I come to the right conclusion.

    I do the bare minimum to get by on my course but I get chastised daily for lack of attendance etc and it becomes hard after a while not to feel worn down by it all. I have been told I draw too much which makes my work predictable in its outcome, my "compositions are shit", without being told how to correct them, painting is "a piece of piss". I seriously fear being unable to land a job at the end of my course so I am currently looking for some further education or evening courses that I can take but traditional art education is few and far between in the UK. Check the Art Renewal center website if you don't believe me, they have a grand total of one school on there.

    I feel like the thing I am learning more rapidly than anything else is cynicism.

    Oh I almost forgot my crowning piece of artistic advice, I informed my teacher that I planned to do a week long intensive course in oil painting to see if it conflicted with any important school dates. My other tutor walked out of the office from a hard morning of drinking coffee, laughed and said "Ha! a week yeah that should crack it!".

    I feel like I should secretly videotape my class and report it to some sort of education authority.

    Anyway for anyone reading that's thinking about art school, be very careful about where you choose to go. Or you could end up paying a lot of money for poor art therapy classes.
    Last edited by [void]; April 23rd, 2007 at 10:12 PM. Reason: typos

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Santa Rosa/San Anselmo, Calif.
    Posts
    3,391
    Thanks
    135
    Thanked 418 Times in 161 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Dutton View Post
    I remember skipping a class once, because the class next door was going on a sketch trip to the zoo, so I tagged along. I also used to leave my figure drawing class to go upstairs and sketch in a workshop because the model was more interesting than the teacher downstairs droning on about the same thing instead of having us actually draw. Sure, it sometimes meant slipping grades, but it's ultimately your education. As long as the resources are there, it's up to you to decide how to use it and what to ignore.
    Otherwise, refer to response number 1: Transfer. Or go self-ed.
    who was the teacher?

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    398
    Thanks
    30
    Thanked 14 Times in 7 Posts
    I'm about to graduate, and to be perfectly honest 95% of the things I've learned over the five years I've been in college I learned on my own, through DVDs or books or this website or even my own experimentation. Pretty much the only thing the classes were good for were to give me a place to go and test out whatever I was learning at the time. Figure drawing boiled down to trying out what I was learning from watching Glen Vilppu's DVDs. I never learned how to paint until recently, and that's only because I ran out of "independent study" painting studio courses and realized I had no idea what I was doing when it came to oil paint. I know next to nothing about color, yet my teachers commend my eye for color because, as sad as it is to say it, I know more about it than the other students because I've been doing the research.

    On the one hand, I never would have sought so much knowledge had it all been handed to me while I was here. I may not have needed to go any further than the school, but then again I may have needed more that I was getting yet be so overworked I could never seek it. So by that token, I am thankful. However, on the other hand, I don't even know how much was paid for me to be here, and how much more went into information outside out the curriculum, all for me to wind up teaching myself most of the damn time. I have to spend the summer after I graduate learning to basics of painting on my own just to feel caught up and ready to move on in the art world.

    In my opinion, this trend of praising the inherent qualities of everybody's creative abilities needs to be curtailed in favor of handing young artists the tools and the drive to work hard and develop themselves beyond whatever they may have started with. The entire focus of my art school, from what I've seen, has been placed squarely on everybody's talents and ideas, all the while leaving the development and expression of those ideas to the wayside. I do not oppose the presentation of people's creativity, that is a beautiful and human thing. What I do oppose is not balancing it with more technical knowledge that would certainly be helpful in producing better art. Sure, the students may choose to accept or deny what they learn, but that's certainly worlds better than never having it there in the first place.

    I'm just thankful I'm almost done and can get on with teaching myself outside of jumping through other people's hoops. I know not all art schools are like this, but this is what it was like for mine, and I'm glad it's almost done with.

Similar Threads

  1. 3dsense Media School : School of Interactive Visual Arts
    By fausha in forum Education & Schools for Artists
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: June 14th, 2013, 07:47 AM
  2. school. school. school. tootally lost.
    By gamagabba in forum Education & Schools for Artists
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: June 9th, 2009, 03:39 AM
  3. School Transfers and Debt: State School v. Art College
    By FreshPaint in forum Education & Schools for Artists
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: July 20th, 2007, 07:23 PM
  4. Art: Teaching Middle School and High School Students
    By vmandala in forum Fine Art
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: April 10th, 2006, 04:55 PM

Members who have read this thread: 0

There are no members to list at the moment.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Designed by The Coldest Water, we build the coldest best water bottles, ice packs and best pillows.