There Are many reasons why art school is the smartest option for young artists. Here are a few:
1. Going to college to study art provides young artist with a set of skills that they would not be able to attain anywhere else.
This skill set is an arsenal of tools, including problem solving, creative perspectives, and other life skills that they would not gain on their own. In an article written by Holbrook and Simmons’ titled, “From Rupture to Resonance: Uncertainty and Scholarship in Fine Arts Research Degrees”, the authors researched how art school doctorate students handle stress and anxiety faced in the art making process. They discovered that these students’ are overcoming anxiety in their art by evolving new ideas as they go along, and are solving problems while in the creation process. These are all skills they have learned in their years of art school and are now applying to their practice.
Still, a good amount of art students will look like this:
To supplement this qualitative data, a national survey done by the SNAAP, or the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project reveals some interesting statistics. This is a project based out of University of Indiana, which surveys art school graduates about their time in and after college, about what they learned and how it has affected their life and career. The art school graduates report that 96% of people surveyed said they learned or improved skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, and improving with feedback in art school. They also said they improved on skills, such as project management (96%), networking (96%), and business skills (85%) (SNAAP).
These artists are providing proof that the time spent in art school prepared them with skills and lesson that they would not have received if they were studying independently; and are able to apply these skills to their art practice, or even a career outside the arts. Those artist who are trying to make it on their own may not realize all that they can learn beyond the basics of technical skill.
2. Art school provides a resource that none of the other alternatives do: professors who sole job is to guide and coach young artists.
Many times Universities will hire faculty who have a practicing studio to teach at their school. This means that they are not only professors, but also artists who are showing their art in galleries and have made a career for themselves in the art world. They have already been down the path that young artists are traveling, and they have vast amounts of experience and wisdom to impart. Additionally, if a student connects with a specific professor, they may be able to aid them in their studio practice, or be their apprentice. This is a resource that artists who are not in a college setting will not receive.
This video segment is of a VCUarts student panel who talks about the role their professors play in their learning:
Simmons and Holbrook would agree with these students, as they also talks about in their article how the guidance of a professor can help rid students of their artist block and provide clarity. They state, “there needs to be feedback and it is in such circumstances that supervisors can act most effectively as reassuring fellow-travellers – offering a point of stability to support risk-taking and ‘play’, and helping define the terrain in a seemingly chaotic situation.” (Simmons and Holbrook, 213). What they are saying here is that art professors, are not only there to teach but to also be a confidant and a person students can come to for support and opinion about their art. They are able to encourage risk-taking and new ideas that an art student might have because they have the skills and knowledge on how to help a young artist achieve what they want to do.
3. Art school and the skills learned there actually prepare young artists for a fruitful future careers, and a job that will bring them satisfaction and happiness.
The idea of a “starving artist” living in a decrepit studio apartment and eating ramen is a stereotype that artists have to combat daily.
Fortunately, that is a misconception. Art school and the skills learned there actually prepare young artists for a fruitful future careers, and a job that will bring them satisfaction and happiness. SNAAP data gives some statistics regarding artists and their careers: The artists surveyed reported that 75% continue to practice art separate from their work, 80% artistic technique as being important to their work, and 75% have been self-employed at some point in their career (SNAAP).
Lingo and Tepper’s journal article, “Looking Back, Looking Forward: Arts-Based Careers And Creative Work” which talks about the types of skills artists bring to the job market and the types of jobs artists can find in general, backs up this data, saying, “A glance at the rolling credits at the end of a movie reveals the highly differentiated nature of many art worlds today” (Lingo and Tepper, 341). When people think of a career in art, they generally think of the stereotypical, stuffy studio artist that has made millions off the art they have shown in galleries. In reality, that is a miniscule percentage of artists who work in the arts.
This link here will bring you to a list of 60 possible occupations for art school graduates.