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An Education in Art?


Petroselinum crispum
Have any of you studied art beyond high school? What was your experience like? Did academic study help or hinder your development as an artist?

I am wondering this because I've spent the last four years working towards a degree in a subject that left me little time or energy to pursue what used to be a primary love of my life- art. Someday I want to try to re-gain what I've lost in terms of artistic ability and find inspiration anew, and was considering post-bac study in the fine arts. What are your opinions on how one should go about "learning" art?



I'm currently pursuing a Bachelors in Fine Arts (Studio Art concentration) and a (possibly piggybacked) Associates in Graphic Design.

I recommend anyone wanting to go further in their education in art to actually attend an honest-to-gawd art school. it'll be more expensive than a state university with a (rumored) good art program, but ultimately it'll be better for you as an artist. art schools have a much better community than state u's do. the one i'm attending (UMA) has BOLLOCKS for an art community. no one cares. my old school (despite the horrible administration department) had a wonderful community of peers and teachers to hang out with and learn and grow with. i really miss that.



a ghost in a shell
Copypasta from another reply I made to something similar to this:

Professors and teachers at art schools vary greatly. I've had both horrible and wonderful experiences with them, so there's really no way to tell. There is a general idea that many of them look down at the anime and furry subcultures and don't understand/appreciate our work, so you may have to gear yourself up for dealing with these kinds of people. Prepare an intelligent defense or just ignore them. Most of them aren't worth dealing with. Other professors are perfectly accepting and encouraging, so it all balances out in the end. The main thing about art school is just that you get out of it what you put into it. I think too many people go to art school because they have nothing better to do and think that just because they can graduate with a degree, it means they're great artists and will have jobs later. This, obviously, isn't necessarily true. Work hard. Nothing's going to be handed to you.

"Learning" art is a funny thing. As a very subjective skill and subject, it can be hard to know whether and when you're making progress. The basics are always the basics though, and the only way for things such as anatomy, perspective, backgrounds, etc, to get better is for you to practice. School helps force the discipline on you, but style, experimentation, and technique are still, for the most part, up to you.

As for what school to attend, if you seriously want to pursue art as a career, I would highly recommend an actual art school like koutoni says. State schools and the dreaded Art Institute chains will occasionally have programs that are worth their dollars, but I wouldn't gamble it in most cases. Real art schools are expensive though, so I guess it all depends on your situation in the end.

And for the record, I'm currently pursuring a BFA in Illustration and Sequential Art at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Zst Xkn

New Member
I attended the academy of art in San Francisco for a few years. it was a real boon for my art skills, and more importantly it taught me hot to teach myself.

Personally if you're almost done with a degree I'd finish it. then if you can afford it take some art classes at a real art school, but don't bother with an art degree. the places that higher artists only care about your portfolio, and the places that higher based on your degree will most certainly not be impressed by a BFA.


Petroselinum crispum
Thanks for your replies!
Good to know a BFA isn't a requirement for an art career. If I do go back to college, my objective would be to get a better grip on the basics and to just be around a community of other artists who I can learn from. I may have to start looking into art schools now, too. I'm having a bit of a quarter-life crisis at the moment, so it may take me a few years to decide whether or not to pursue art as a career, and in the meantime, it will be me practicing on my own. :D I can't wait to get started!


New Member
Try for a higher degree than a BA if you do go back, http://www.yukoart.com/ <---this lady came and lectured at my college and that was part of her story. She grew up in a very traditional japanese family and was forced to get a BA&job doing marketing. One day, she walks into the office and looks around at all the old ladies filing papers and thinks "....do I really want to be like that?"

Couple months later she's in a new york grad school, and now she's a seriously hot-shit illustrator.

One thing I will say about choosing schools- think about what you want to do and find the school that does it best. I started at Uarts in Philadelphia and even though I liked how small it was and my teachers and my friends, they were based on editorial and magazine style work. I wanna draw monsters for a living, games movies and comics not drug ads! So...I gave up a scholarship that payed for the better part of my tuition and may be transferring into a second sophomore year buuut...Ringling is worth it.

so yeah. Oh and above all, do not stop drawing. Even if it's a little bit, keep a sketchbook and keep looking at art even if it's yiff.


New Member
I went to the Art Institute of Boston for 3 semesters, and then dropped out. It was totally not what I was expecting - most of my teachers reeeeally liked to asspat rather than give critique. About the 20th time I heard, "Oh, well that's not right - but that's okay! Maybe you meant for it to be different!" I decided it wasn't really worth the tens of thousands of dollars a year to go there. Plus, there were more bullshit classes than actual art classes, I had 3 one semester that would try to give me a "different perspectives on art", but only one figure drawing class to actually improve my art.

I'd recommend an art school that might train you a little more traditionally in drawing if you want to go into something like illustration or animation. It would probably give you a really good portfolio, and like someone said, it's usually the portfolio that gets you hired, not the degree.

Oh, and lots of community colleges will have figure drawing classes. Yeah, yeah, haha community college - but I took one of them last year, and it was frankly really helpful. So that might even be an option if you aren't going for a degree, you just want some help and a push in the right direction.


Petroselinum crispum
Awesome website, thanks for sharing the link blackmane. Just realized I've actually seen some of those magazine covers before, cool to know how the illustrator got her start! I'm actually graduating with a BS in Molecular Biology... So art would be a bit of an odd career transition, although I've been contemplating biological/medical illustration. Mabyn, community college seems like a great idea! That could help me improve my drawing skills while I contemplate... Science? Art? Some fusion of the two? Something else entirely? :p
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New Member
Hmm, be wary of medial illustration, it used to be a hyooooge field but with the advent of 3d models and such it's basically a dinosaur and my old college (which used to specialize in that) doesn't even offer it anymore. That's not to say you cannot use science in art though! Just look at Alex Grey! And hey it must be working for him, I met him two months ago and he was the single most relaxed guy I've met, not usually a trait among influential artists and even less so among influential and successful artists :)


is watching you!
I'd like to say thanks everyone, I didn't start the thread, but its exactly the type of thing doing on in my head... I know I want a career in illustration, fine art on the side.

I know its been spoken for, but while some things in art are subjective, the quote "you much know the rules before you can break them." rings true. While colour theory and perspective exercisers are a pain in the butt after awhile, you'll always gain something from it, even if its just reinforcements of what you already know.

anyway, thanks again