BTW THIS IS LONG ASS POST , BUT ENCOURAGE YOU TO READ THIS IS IF YOU ARE A PERSON CONSIDERING ART FOR A CAREER
EDIT: I ADDED NUMBER 3 IN BECAUSE THAT WAS KIND OF AN IMPORTANT LESSON TOO. HAHA
Usually I am pretty quiet when it comes to the community and its dealings with drama . But I feel like I have to write my two cents about this topic.
A lot of people have been throwing around this post around about how art schools are terrible and are not worth it . I am sure you can find the article somewhere if you just google it . Though everyone is entitled to their own opinion I feel that I should talk about both sides of the coin when it comes to art school.
Now I have went to art school , and have done well for myself , I have worked internationally and worked for some big companies , and currently at the moment I actually teach at an art school as well.
SO THE ULTIMATE QUESTION: IS ART SCHOOL A WASTE OF TIME?
WELL THERE IS NO BLACK AND WHITE ANSWER
What I believe is that art school is an Investment , nothing is guaranteed about art school , just because you go to the best art school in the world , that doesn't guarantee you will be successful . However , not going to school and buying dvds , watching you-tube videos , doesn't guarantee you will be successful either. Both are very circumstantial . Now one is definitely a lot less expensive than the other . But I believe value is what you make of it.
I feel like most of the people that complain about art school are the ones who didn't work hard and expecting everything to be handed to them , then they graduate , cant find a job , and blame the school for all of their shortcomings. It's funny to me because I bet those people didn't do 1 thing to try to improve their school either. But are quick to complain. When I was school if we didn't have the classes or things we needed we raised hell, and the school changed to our needs . I believe school is what you make of it . Because I have seen people go to really crappy schools and become really successful , and I have seen people go to really good schools and do nothing with their lives.
Now granted the school I went to was really expensive , was it worth it? I can't really say , would I do it all over again? Can't say either . Were there some things that happened to me while in art school that changed my life forever? DEFINITELY . Here are a few of those things
1. When I was in art school I majored in game art design. I had no idea what I wanted to do ( mostly because I was young and immature, I was a young black kid who wanted to party , dance , chase girls , and draw on the side) but I knew i wanted to do art in games . Schooled showed me animation , programming , modeling, scripting , painting everything. Art school showed me all the possible avenues in games . BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY IT SHOWED ME WHAT I DIDN'T WANT TO DO . So after my first year I realized that I didn't want to be a animator or a modeler , I wanted to be a concept artist because it was fun for me. I also sat in a lot of classes in my spare time grabbing small pieces of knowledge here and there.
2. I met some extremely important people who were very pivotal in my life . How I got into concept art was because I walked into a computer lab and I saw edgar cardona aka painting on a wacom (something that I have never seen before) when I saw that I was amazed and also hooked , Before you knew it I was following him around and we began to explore and paint together in computer labs everyday . Meeting Edgar led meet one of my best friends Anthony Jones aka . We began to draw and paint together everyday at school , created a sketch group , concept club , and met many other like minded people who loved art like we did. I got AJ his first job and he helped me get my job in Madrid and also my job at ILM . But also they were my best friends , who helped me through extremely difficult times in my life as I did for them.
My point is I can't guarantee that I would have met these two people if it weren't for school . I also can't guarantee that we would have had a facility such as school where we could all meet up and hang out and use all the schools equipment. So was it worth the 70k ? Not sure . BUT I DO KNOW THAT I WOULD NOT BE WHERE I AM TODAY IF IT WAS NOT FOR THEM.
3. I learned to grow up and work with others . Before art school I was a jock . I played a lot of sports hung out with the tough guys partied a lot all that stuff. I actually wanted to be a pro soccer player at one point. I went straight from high-school to art college and my personality was a little too outgoing when I entered art school. I expected everyone to be my best friend right away , joke with me and tell me all about themselves. Why ? because my previous class mates were like me , young , loud , athletic , obnoxious , arrogant , nothing held back. So with my high school friends we would joke around a lot, hit he each other , talk crap on each other , curse a lot , but it was all in good fun . Yeah we butted heads a lot but these are friends that I would trust with my life if push came to shove ( I still feel this way) . Now when I brought that personality into art school , needless to say in a room full of introverts , most people hated me immediately . I treated art like my sports , competitive , talk trash , haha but all good fun. Of course it didn't come off like that . And finally some people let me know. Of course I thought people were being too sensitive right? Well regardless of whether I was right or wrong ( probably wrong haha) I had to learn to respect others , and always realize some people may not be that comfortable to joke around with me in that sort of way. So I learned that my personality and image is very important in how others perceive me. So I learned to mature a little and be more professional in the beginning until me and that artist are more comfortable with each other. Something I don't I think I could have learned from chilling at home drawing and only hanging out with my hs friends. Till this day I try to keep my hs friends and art friends separate only because I know those worlds don't mix that well. So I learned that not everyone needs to meet "party" kalen . And when I changed my attitude a lot of doors opened up for me
4. I also met a few instructors that changed my life . One of them being Mike Tracy. Now was this one lesson that he taught me worth 1200$ I paid for the class? Again I can't say . But I can say it was pivotal , and I am not sure I would have hit this lesson by myself.
He took my hw one day and put it on the projector and asked a student to give me a grade , the student said B ( he was being nice too) . Mr Tracy then took my picture and put it beside a Craig Mullins painting . He asked the student again to give me a grade and he said F . Standing in front of a class of 20 I felt so embarrassed and realized that if I wanted to be successful I would have to be as good as people who have been doing it for 25 years.
5. What I also learned from school is that no one is going to cry for me and sulk for my short comings . Now what people don't know about me is that among the group of my art friends when I was in school . I WAS THE WORST ONE . Not very many people took me seriously , in fact many people thought I was a fan boy following around the good artists. A lot of people thought I didn't belong even though they were my friends.
One day an employer came to school and wanted to look at student work . Naturally the employer loved all of my friends work , and didn't give me the time of day . I CAN SAY FIRST HAND THAT THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST FEELINGS IN WORLD . to feel like you don't belong . Being a minority I have always felt like an outsider and to have this feeling in my art was unbearable. To add insult to injury our Academic director arranged a tour at a big studio for some of the concept art students , there they would meet a famous art director and get critiqued. I asked pleaded that I be allowed to go with my friends , but she said my work wasn't good enough. I felt left out and alone. They were my friends , but when it came to art it was like we were on a different planet. I was angry , mad , sad you name it.
But why were they so much better than me? They had the same resources I did , same classes , but yet they were so much better. Granted I had to keep a full time job while working and I didn't have as much money. But I realized NO CARES WHAT YOU HAVE FOR EXCUSES , IF THEY ARE BETTER THEY ARE BETTER. AND IF I WANTED TO BE TAKING SERIOUSLY I WOULD HAVE TO WORK TWICE AS HARD TO CATCH UP.
eventually I caught up. ( though I am still catching up to those guys everyday , and thank god they are my friends so they gave me great advice)
but without school , I am not sure I would have learned that lesson either.
Also its important to remember that america has a lot more opportunities in this business than other places. For example my friend Frank who I went to school with was from taiwan. and was going to school here. Now I know for a fact if he had not gone to school here , he would not be at naughty dog. the people and things he experienced here definitely influenced him for the better.
So though it is a much cheaper route to just buy dvd's and books , watch youtube etc etc . I am quite confident I would have missed out on all of those experiences that have influenced my life in a positive manner.
I think school has a recipe to put like minded people together and things happen , I cant always say this will happen at every school , but it did for me.
And now that I teach , I hope I can be that person for 1 student out of 20 that makes their 70k tuition worth while as well. So if you are in school and you feel like you are getting what you want , then talk to the directors , start a group , complain and raise hell . And if it doesn't work then simply leave.
So my conclusion is to simply do your research about school and know there are many different routes to being an artist , school is just one of em , and just because someone takes it , it doesn't mean they are dumb , nor does it mean that someone who doesn't is so much better and smarter. Anything in this life is what you make of it.
Because I guarantee if you work your ass off it doesn't matter what route you will take , you will be successful
keep pushing forward