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Old 12-02-2011, 11:19 AM
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enigmacat enigmacat is offline
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Should I go to art school? Can I?

I have a BA in English and have been in corporate life for several years. At this point I have really soured on the corporate world and am longing to do something that I actually like. One of the many things I am contemplating is art school.

I am not a great artist, but I've been working on it for the past few years and I keep learning a lot. The appealing thing about art school is 1) having a break from desk jobs and 2) getting to learn /play.

My questions for you:
1. It looks like art school is VERY EXPENSIVE. I don't have terrible credit but it's not that great. Are there any quality but lower-priced grad schools?

2. I really have no idea what I would do with an MFA, at this point I sort of don't care. I want the knowledge and skill. But what else is there to do besides teach or be so good that people willingly pay massive sums for your work? Or, graphic design?

Your experiences / advice / thoughts are very welcome. Thank you!
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:04 PM
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enigmacat enigmacat is offline
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Re: Should I go to art school? Can I?

OK, in addition to posting this I've done more research and talked to people IRL, and it looks like school is not a practical direction for me right now. I can continue to study in less official, less expensive ways.

I'd withdraw my original question but I don't see a way to do that. Oh well!
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:50 PM
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mariposa-art mariposa-art is offline
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Re: Should I go to art school? Can I?

Well, you've answered your own question!

My stock advice to this sort of question would be, "If you can AFFORD it." I keep on hearing about the crippling debt associated with getting any degree, and when it comes to art, a lot of times you don't have to have a degree to sell your artwork. (But it does depend on a lot of factors.)

There's a distinction between "degree" and "good education." We hope that most of the time, someone who gets an art degree also gets a good education, but there is no guarantee of this. I have known so, so, so many artists with degrees but with negligible artistic skills. I no longer associate the concept of a degree with artistic skill or excellence. It always depends on the individual.

I have seen many artists that have educated themselves (through various means) and so have excellent skills. They may or may not have a degree. I know of one guy who had excellent artistic skills and only got a degree (in middle age) so he could teach. He now has a degree, but that degree in no way contributed to the artistic skills he already possessed. (In fact, the stories he told of his time in college pursuing this degree would make you shudder!)
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:44 PM
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enigmacat enigmacat is offline
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Re: Should I go to art school? Can I?

Thank you - that's helpful insight. I guess a big part of the reason I would like to go is to get AWAY from the rat race for a while, and do something I love at the same time, but there are probably less expensive ways to do that!
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:23 PM
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LostInWonderArt LostInWonderArt is offline
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Re: Should I go to art school? Can I?

I have seen a lot of art students graduate with crippling debt (I know one who has well over a quarter of a million in school debt through a series of poor choices and not wanting to work for living expenses while in school), and the thing to keep in mind is that there is no way currently to unload that debt. You can't declare bankruptcy against it, and right now the plan to have your debt disappear after 20 years has not gone through.

Also, a lot of students get their scholarships through portfolio review. If your portfolio is not up to snuff yet, this is where you could really miss out on some money for your education.

One plus on going to art school is the connections that can be made. I do say "can," because it seems like art schools pick a favorite or two and give everything they have to those students, like scholarships, gallery shows, work experience, admission to top MFA programs, and teaching positions.

The other thing to keep in mind is that studies show that only 9% of art school students are still in an art-related field 5 years after graduation. And, that is counting people working part time in art supply stores or people flushing screens at a screenprint shop.

One suggestion that I have for you is to do one class a semester through a state school with a good art department. You will most likely have to pay cash up front for tuition, but it can be pretty affordable. If you have time to take two classes, then the school will find money for you, especially if you are non-traditional. But, there is really no money for people wanting to take 1class.

I will also second the thought that there is no guarantee that someone's skills will improve during art school. I have seen students that drew like 3rd graders when they went in, and drew like 3rd graders when they came out. It takes hard work and a critical eye, and you can do that with our without art school.

Since it seems like you're leaning away from art school, I suggest that you look into getting in with some artists who will help you develop your skills. Maybe you could rent part of an artist studio where there will be others around. I know around here people can do that with just $100-150 a month.
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Old 12-09-2011, 03:33 PM
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Re: Should I go to art school? Can I?

Thanks for the responses. I was leaning away from art school based on the lack of practicality, but despite myself I keep thinking about it, so perhaps I should explore it.

The things I would want from the experience:
1. the chance to hone my skills
2. immersion in learning
3. freedom - less "make 200 clay jugs in this style!" and more "find your voice"
4. relative mellowness - i'm not competitive, i don't do well in a competitive environment.

The things I'm worried about:
1. expense / debt
2. actually getting in
3. winding up in an annoying/stressful program

The things I don't care about:
1. "Making it" as an artist.
2. Getting into a big name school
3. The degree. Well, it would be sort of nice, but it's not at all a priority

The things I don't know
1. Is an MFA really the best way to get the experience I want?
2. Portfolio requirements are scary. I'm reading portfolio info on the threads here and online. Though the quality of my work keeps improving it's still probably not even at the undergrad level yet
3. My BA is in english and I have no art-related job experience. Does this matter?
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Last edited by enigmacat : 12-09-2011 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:24 AM
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LostInWonderArt LostInWonderArt is offline
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Re: Should I go to art school? Can I?

From what I've seen, I think a BA in english would work well for you in art school. Students still have a lot of writing to do, and they have to verbally defend their work. Your communication and english skills should do well for you.

One thing that I've seen with the programs that I've seen, is that it is less about finding "your" voice and more about filling the voice that is imposed on you. You have to be strong-willed in some of these programs to improve on who you are and not conform to fit a mold. So many programs are only about conceptual art, it's virtually impossible to come out as a classically-trained, traditional artist.

That being said, what I would suggest is that you go to the school that you're interested in, speak to a recruiter (they sometimes help you prep your portfolio), visit the department that you're interested in, meet a professor or two, and take in all of the artwork that you pass while on tour. Ask yourself if the type of art you see is what you're interested in. When you meet the recruiter, talk to them about aid and scholarships. Like I'd said before, there is money out there for non-traditional students, women students, and more. In an MFA program, there maybe TA jobs (art programs still need english courses) or other jobs that could help supplement your tuition or living expenses.

The one thing that I would watch about is loans, especially private loans. I think that private student loans are almost as predatory as home loans were 5-10 years ago. Weight issues about the amount of investment you're willing to risk for this.

There are some art centers near me that have portfolio prep classes. You might want to search for this in your area. Just keep in mind that probably most of the people in the class will be high school students. Another option is contacting a high school near you with a good art program, see if the teacher would be willing to meet with you to take a look at what you have and give you pointers. Art teachers are usually pretty generous with their time, and I know at least 3 in my area that would be open to doing something like this.

I have seen a lot of art programs with my last job, and I had planned to do what you're thinking of a few years ago. Just with work, I wasn't able to continue it, and they changed the program after I took one class (I only wanted to do 2d art, and they were requiring me to take these 3d classes before I went back to 2d---even though I wasn't degree-seeking). I know that I did select the perfect program to suit what I wanted out of it. The professors were all very traditional artists, which is the way I wanted to go, and it wasn't super-competitive.

One huge plus I would see out of this for you is the connections that you would make. I find the art community in my area is virtually closed-off for people without a degree from one of the 3 major art programs here. An art school can set you up with the necessary contacts to show and sell your work. I know that isn't your top priority, but if you can begin to show and sell your work, it will help offset the expense of school.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:48 PM
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Amigone Amigone is offline
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Re: Should I go to art school? Can I?

If you're just looking to hone your skills why not try a local community college? They offer many classes for artist. They even have some non credit courses that you could take.
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:20 PM
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Re: Should I go to art school? Can I?

Quote:
Originally Posted by enigmacat
Thanks for the responses. I was leaning away from art school based on the lack of practicality, but despite myself I keep thinking about it, so perhaps I should explore it.

The things I would want from the experience:
1. the chance to hone my skills
2. immersion in learning
3. freedom - less "make 200 clay jugs in this style!" and more "find your voice"
4. relative mellowness - i'm not competitive, i don't do well in a competitive environment.

The things I'm worried about:
1. expense / debt
2. actually getting in
3. winding up in an annoying/stressful program

The things I don't care about:
1. "Making it" as an artist.
2. Getting into a big name school
3. The degree. Well, it would be sort of nice, but it's not at all a priority

The things I don't know
1. Is an MFA really the best way to get the experience I want?
2. Portfolio requirements are scary. I'm reading portfolio info on the threads here and online. Though the quality of my work keeps improving it's still probably not even at the undergrad level yet
3. My BA is in english and I have no art-related job experience. Does this matter?

First, to "LostInWonderARt" 's note about a given school imposing a voice on you ( my slight paraphrase) - Ok, sure yes -and absolutely not! First - what do you want to get out of art school ? If you want to do realistic work, you will NEED to learn concepts and techniques that I do not see well understood in almost all the self-taught artists work I come across. Period. You *can learn this from the web and books and youtube for sure but it will take quite a bit longer. Much. Good teachers, good students near you and access to method and process will accelerate your skills and understanding.

Can we have a voice if we don't know what we are doing ? Sure, folk artists have a clear voice. But if I want to draw or paint or sculpt people realistically - my voice won't have a chance to come out until I get quite a bit of knowledge under my belt.

ok, MFA - no - I don't think it will serve someone w/o the foundational skills. I think you can get an MFA - and perhaps someone will take you on as a teacher - maybe - but to my eye and brain - small atelier -style schools can be everything one needs and they are less $ than the big schools - which have other advantages ( providing a real degree - say - if that is needed).

where I teach, EVERYONE's skills improve each semester - there is ZERO question. If there is a school that cannot improve the student's skills, it should be closed tomorrow. We are super thoughtful about what we teach, how we approach concepts and how we get them into the students' collective tool kit. I know of many schools that do similar practices to engage and develop art students.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LostInWonderARt
will also second the thought that there is no guarantee that someone's skills will improve during art school. I have seen students that drew like 3rd graders when they went in, and drew like 3rd graders when they came out. It takes hard work and a critical eye, and you can do that with our without art school.

Every single student who as studied with me - they are so much better than when they showed up. And I will say the same for my fellow teachers - and all the teachers I have had. 100% Furthermore, I will say that was my experience with my teachers/classes while I was studying. If I did not learn something I would have walked out. That never occurred - maybe perhaps myself and the hundreds of artist I know who have gone through the same, or similar programs, are outliers ? hmm.. Well, no, I don't think they are. I think it works.

For what's worth, your posts caught my eye because I also have a BA in English Literature, Worked for almost 20 years in the software/internet industry and found my way to drawing and painting. And with that I found my way to art school. I'v never enjoyed anything I have done more ( ok except maybe being in love but the letdowns there are huge!)..

Good luck in your quest!

Kevin
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Last edited by kevinwueste : 12-16-2011 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:18 PM
LakeSailor LakeSailor is offline
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Re: Should I go to art school? Can I?

First, find the place where the middle school kids go for art instruction, their is usually an adult class as well this can usually be found in your local yellow pages.

The one my son went to was $75 a month, and their was a real live artist, who was motivated to have him learn the basics, he was just not very interested in it.

This is also a great way to discover you local (hidden) art community.

If you are really serious in the MFA, you can use it to become a art teacher, at a public school, most states require 30 credits in the subject of art, with half at the upper level (junior, senior, graduate), and then you go through the alternate route to get your teacher certificate.

On the other hand if you have 60 credits of liberal arts most states will let you become a elementary school teacher.

either way you would need to spend about a years time studying and putting the pieces in place to get that first teaching certificate via the alternate route.

look at your state of residence's department of education website for more info.
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