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College 101

Art Schools
Article Type: Quick and Dirty

Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.”   - Oscar Wilde

You’re enjoying your visit to the Modern Museum of Not-So-Modern Art. Everywhere you look are beautiful works displaying incredible skill and insight… as well as a bunch of canvases where it appears as if there’s been some kind of accident. Jackson Pollock was either a genius or a very sloppy eater.

But then it hits you… people sit around and actually paint these things. Like… they don’t program it into a computer or have factory workers assemble them on a line or somehow cause them to apparate out of thin air. There are men and women sitting their butts down in chairs and tirelessly applying paint to canvas in tiny, tedious doses until the final image is achieved. And when they’re done… there’s just this… image. A picture of something. It doesn’t heal the sick, it doesn’t solve the nation’s debt problem. It just… sits there.

Is there really any worthwhile reason to be an artist?

We can think of 10 off the top of our head…

Top 10 Reasons to Be an Artist

1.     If you’re starving, you have a good excuse

2.     Never have to move beyond that stage when you were a kid and covered in paint all the time

3.     You can deduct brushes

4.     You get to live in a loft. Or… a studio apartment, or you know, whatever you can afford.

5.     Your peers will get all of your Van Gogh ear jokes

6.     No workin’ for the Man

7.     Your version of an industry conference is a day on the Venice boardwalk

8.     Everyone will say, “I wish I could do that.”

9.     Members of the opposite sex will assume that you… know what you’re doing

10.  Looks good on a business card

Artists create for the aesthetics of it… for the pure pleasure of creation. Yeah, for many of us, Art ended in eighth grade when our clay pinch pot exploded in the kiln. But for many, art is a way of life, and for them, the desire to create cannot be quenched. What better way to make a living, right? Doing what you love? As long as it’s legal?

And before we get to deep into this… let’s be clear: Art is not just slapping acrylic onto canvas. The term “art” really includes a ton o’ stuff… visual arts, graphic arts, music, fashion, performing arts… basically, any type of medium where you are creating something intended to affect an audience in some way. Those insane, gigantic bird-like outfits runway models sometimes wear? Even those are art… sorry.

"We’ll just never understand high fashion."


But we aren’t here to talk your head off about art, per se, but about Art Schools. Attending a college, university or community college specifically to study art is… a little something like Vocational Training. Wha-huh? What in the world does art have to do with… welding, or… refrigerator repair, or… dead animal removal?

Well, while art used to be dipping your fingers into poster paints and making turtles on a large sheet of construction paper… it gets to be something more when you begin to consider making it your life’s work. There is technical expertise to be learned in every type of art, just as there is in any other career. If someone attempted to become an artist without any training whatsoever, they might only be able to come up with something like this:


We rest our case.

Sure, there is some more abstract stuff that may be required if an artist is to be truly successful… stuff like talent, passion, patience… but no matter how much of those things they’ve got, it won’t get them far if they can’t tell a color wheel from a Trivial Pursuit playing piece.

And while aspiring artists may not want to think about money… yeah, yeah, we know – you’re doing it “for the art”… if you’re planning on looking at art schools, it is important to consider. Your professors will not be teaching “for the art.” They have bills to pay. Yes – one day, for you too the real world will come a-knocking.

You’re going to need to pay for tuition and buy materials, you may need studio or theater time... and for what? A small shot at success is what. Keep in mind that a number of Art-related majors and degrees consistently rank among the highest in terms of post-grad unemployment (and rank even worse for underemployment – there are a lot of waiters out there with Art degrees.)

However, art is about passion, and if you have your heart set on art, there’s no way we are going to dissuade you. Unless you’d like to give us a few minutes alone with your heart. We just want to talk to it, mano a… cor.

Another thing you will need to attend any Art School is a portfolio of some kind. Hopefully one including… your work. Whether it is an album of your photographs, examples of your paintings, a flash drive full of your music recordings, or a menu of your culinary creations, Art is about production, and schools will be looking to see that you have the chops. In the case of the culinary arts, they’ll be looking to see that you have the… pork chops.

For a better idea of your possibilities for pursuing your passion, take a gander at our Checklist: Art School Options.


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