Arts and Design
For the aspiring photographer, graphic designer or illustrator, art school serves as a means to develop and hone artistic skills as well as learn about the practical, business nature of their respective fields. Depending on the school, students can pursue a variety of degrees, such as an AA, BA, BFA and MFA.
But, besides earning a degree, does it make sense to attend art school? Here, we run down seven reasons why going to art school can help aspiring artists improve their craft. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, as there are dozens of reasons, big and small, why art school can help. These are just seven that we felt were especially important. Enjoy!
It is possible to learn about art history or the evolution of design without attending a traditional art school, but it can be tough to match the comprehensive, formal, and in-depth art history education that art schools traditionally offer students. For example, art school students can develop their understanding and appreciation of art by learning about the history of art, great artists and their techniques and how those techniques were inspired or informed by the artist’s time period and culture.
Secondly, art school students can learn about the larger, professional art world through design competitions, internships and workshops. This introduction serves as an introduction to future career opportunities and choices.
Unlike a traditional four-year university that narrows learning paths to a singular focus (e.g. history, business), art schools allow students to learn about and experience a range of art techniques and fields. During their time, students can receive a core education in a multitude of artistic disciplines before eventually tapering down to their chosen specialty or area of study.
Typically speaking, most art school instructors are professionals in their fields and have a nuanced understanding of the techniques and best practices. This insider information can be invaluable as students can not only learn about the particulars of their field, but gleam greater insight into the art field through their instructors’ professional experiences.
Where is the sculptor supposed to hone his craft without a kiln? What about the dancer without a studio? Or, the artist without brushes and an easel? By attending art school, students gain access to the tools they need to experiment with different techniques and forms of media.
The argument can be made that as an artist, spending all of your time surrounded by artists can kill the open-mindedness and originality that are near and dear to every artist. There may even be some legitimacy to that argument. But at the same time, there might not be a better way to mature and improve as an artist than to be surrounded by people focused on studying the same thing.
While attending an art school, students are generally able to attend lectures, participate in various workshops, and pursue internships, all which bring them into contact not only with other students, but design professionals as well. Art school affords students the opportunity to develop a list of contacts in the corporate and design world, which can prepare them for a transition to professional life after completing their degree.
The end game of any program of study is a credential. Whether it is a degree or certificate, that credential demonstrates a student’s commitment to learning. More importantly, a degree allows art school graduates to pursue employment across the field, from graphic design to illustration, painting to textile design, and much more.
Becoming an artist requires work, practice and time. More than anything, artists need a space and community that fosters growth and allows them time to practice and develop their skills. Art school is such a place, providing students with the tools and resources they need to grow as a professional artist.
- "Advocating for Arts In The Classroom" by Mark Bauerlein
- "Why Arts Education Is Crucial, And Who Is Doing It Best" by Fran Smith
- "How The Arts Benefit Student Achievement" by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
- "Arts-School Grads: Rich? Don't Count On It. Content? Quite Possibly!" by Carolyn Mooney
Jonathan Koenig is an art enthusiast interested in matching aspiring artists with a career that can help them pursue their passion and make a living at the same time. His website, TheArtCareerProject.com, is an art career resource dedicated to helping potential art students find information about schools, careers, and job prospects.
Academy of Art University, founded in 1929 by artists for artists, is the nation's largest accredited, private art and design university with over 18,000 students.
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