Going to art school is a major decision that has plagued many artists looking to dive into their interests and wonder if they can turn their artistic pursuit into a full-fledged career. Being an artist myself, this is a question I’ve had to dabble with for about 5+ years—switching majors into other fields before missing my passion and then returning, doing lots of research, getting unmotivated and giving up, seeking out answers from people in the profession and outside the profession.
This question can drive you to spend years in a circular motion trying to figure out where you truly belong, especially if you want your contribution to be authentic and valued. You may be thinking thoughts along the lines of, “will I be able to feel stable if I don’t choose the right art school, right major, right path? What if I choose to go to art school and then fail to become a successful artist? Can I survive as an artist without a diploma?” These are all valid questions. And if you’ve found yourself in such a dilemma, let’s start by talking about some of the benefits that art schools will offer to you.
One of the benefits of attending art school is the environment it provides. When you are new or not as confident in a skill, learning art in a classroom is a lot less intimidating than learning it in the workforce. You can take your time, get mentorship, and share ideas. You can also improve your work without it affecting your reputation as a professional should it happen out in the field. It’s like practice, but others are there experimenting with their ideas along with you.
In art school, you will be amongst your tribe! According to business blogger and best-selling author of Tribes, Seth Godin, “a tribe is a group of people connected to one another…a group only needs two things to be a tribe—a shared interest, and a way to communicate.”
This is great news, especially because, we as artists, can always appreciate the moment people “get us.” In other words, those who can understand our drive, desire, and need to express ourselves and be accepted for the art we create. For most of us, it is our identity, and to connect with others who share this same identity is priceless.
Art School Provides Access of Mentorship
I had a professor in one of my 3D design courses tell the class once, “You won’t find another individual with the same exact story who can share with you how they’ve succeeded with their art, and how you can succeed with yours.” He was right. The critiques, mentorship, and lessons my professors have given were unique to my craft and helped me further my artwork in ways I would have never been able to do on my own. Sometimes you need someone who can see beyond what you see, so you can learn to expand your artistic vision and consequently, your artistic expression—which is a goal for many of us.
Because of the nature of our field, making connections with local businesses is an absolute must. Art schools provide these opportunities and will mostly likely have a network of professionals in the field that they are in contact with. Whether it be the connections that professors have based on their artistic backgrounds, or the career services offered by the school, there are opportunities for striving artists to have access to these professionals to move forward in their field.
Art School Gives Access to Technology/Materials
Tools are also important for the art student to have access to. Outside of art school, these tools may be too expensive to buy such as computers, canvases, and drawing materials.
Art schools provide these for students to use at their own times. Some schools may even allow students to have access to these months after graduation so long as it is applicable to the student’s portfolio or career.
These are some of the major benefits of going to art school, and there are many more. Whether it be the experience of your growth as an artist, the recognition and validity you feel when you improve from professors’ critiques, the ideas shared, and friends made, school becomes more than just an institution where material is given. It is a place where like-minded people evolve and art is created, revised, and refined in preparation for stepping into the professional industry. For some, it may be a chance to open new doors for skillsets that needed honing, while for others it may be just the move that would help them build a new career.
Curious about which art school is right for you? F.I.R.S.T. Institute’s Graphic Design and Web Development program allows students to launch their art careers in just 11 months — on campus, or online!
Article by Marianne Catangay, Graphic Design & Web Development Instructor at F.I.R.S.T. Institute.