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February 8, 2013
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Endling posted this [click here] answer to a questioned by one of his followers on Tumblr.
It pertains to how his art school and supporters treated/reacted to his particular art style in an academic and professional setting. Give that a read first then come back here.

I posted a response to it that I also wanted to share on my DeviantART. (If you're getting tired of me ranting about my experience at school, sorry, but this stuff means a LOT to me. I want to try to inform other people of what my time was like there so that if YOU go, you're all the wiser.) Response was as follows:

This is partially one of my problems with art schools at this point in time. They're ridiculously expensive, and because of the rapid change in art/media industry and culture, fall into generally one of these two categories:

1) They typically have instructors who are remnants of doing their best work in the late 70's to early 90's, couldn't get much work after that because of the increase use of computers for art and design, and turned to teaching as a last means to make money. Their outdated views give an unrealistic landscape of what to expect in the professional art world, and therefore are unfit teachers.

or 2) They're desperately trying to alter their curriculum to be more modern and with current trends, and end up hiring recent grads who had good portfolios and stuff. That's a promise of a decent paying job right there, but these grads have next to zero work experience, thereby being unfit teachers.

-- or 3) Your school is both. Let's face it, the artists best suited to teach classes relevant to today's industry landscape (with good skill and work experience to back it up) are all too busy actually DOING work and being professionals. They don't want to quit their careers and become teachers. This is why many trade / skill specific schools (like Gnomon and FZD) are excelling because they typically have teachers who are working professionals who take some brief time aside to teach for a bit.

My school had this problem (of variety #3) where many teachers would hound you (even mock you in critique) if you didn't conform to their more traditional standards. Many students at my school fell into these traps. I think it's fine for teachers to tell students to put a particular style on hold for a little bit to work on their core fundamentals and understanding of forms and anatomy. But that's not what we got most of the time at my school. Since these students are paying so much money to attend, the teacher(s) must be right if they're outright telling you "You have no future if you keep doing this kind of art. Stop now or die like the rest." -- something very radically different than telling you "Let's sidestep for a bit and work on your fundamentals to get you to where you want to be." This led to some students producing proficient, but completely forgettable/unmarketable work, or they would get confused about their artistic goals, stall with conflict, and suffer, when they would've likely turned out to be great individualistic artists otherwise.

I was constantly confronted by several of my professors in my second year at college specifically about the particular way I drew and what my goals were -- that I had to knock it off because it wasn't art. And after some soul searching, I listened to them and produced some of the shittiest art of my life that year, but I didn't feel too bad about it because I thought I was doing the right thing. I coasted by my third year continuing this, and producing nothing of particular interest, just following expectations and looking like an idiot. It wasn't until my fourth year that I had one particular teacher I hadn't had before, (my department head,) who looked at my work, asked "what the actual fuck are you doing, this is all shit, do you even care?" and to start doing work that mattered to myself. It was a revelation that should have never been necessary in the first place. I banged out the artwork "Now Arriving," and haven't stopped since.

What felt so betraying about that entire experience was that "Now Arriving" was an artwork I produced with my own intuitions and abilities, not from much that I learned at school. I was told to draw something I cared about, so I did, throwing nearly all of the prior 2 years of garbage I learned out the window. I produced several more [Searching For, Starting Point, Settling In,] for the upcoming senior gallery show and year-end critiques. I won best of Illustration 2009 and Juror's choice best work 2009. I was very, VERY conflicted, but at least confident. I dropped out after that year. What did I learn there? Did it shape me to become this kind of artist? Or was it really all myself by simply being enthralled by my newfound city life and love of photography? I have no idea. I'll never know. But to this day it doesn't sit right with me, whether it was worth the debt I paid. My school continues to display my work to incoming prospective students in the gallery and guidebook.

My school was good with offering critique, I'll give them that, but it was clear that making YOU to be the best artist YOU WANT to be was not in all the faculties priorities. You had to become the best artist THEY wanted you to be, and is that really why you were attending? It's fine if a teacher is hard on you to motivate you and drive you forward. It's another if they convince you of making poor decisions when you're paying to be able to get judgement and instruction you can trust. If your school is doing this to you, it might be in your best interests to switch to a school (or different teacher) that has a solid head on their shoulders and will work WITH you, not against you because of stubbornness.

I will admit, I had several teachers in that school who legitimately helped me out, or teached classes with useful real-world techniques. This rant is not against those people. They were the minority, and I continue to talk with them (in person, on facebook etc,) even today, and they seemed to uphold a better standard of what the students are there for than others. When you have so many instructors with such conflicting views on what's in your best interests, it can easily steer you in wrong directions and off the path you want to be on.

If Endling had fallen into the same traps that many I've witnessed fall in to, he'd probably be a pretty mediocre ho-hum illustrator doing whatever low-key freelance gigs he can pick up. But he stood for his own after recognizing that the advice he was being given wasn't working out for him. He ended up building a pretty big name for himself as an individual. And if you ask me, that's far more satisfying (important?) than fitting the mold just so you can graduate without much resistance and get a whatever job.

It's important to know the fundamentals to make your art come alive, but don't ever forget yourself in the process. You (in the most personal way possible) make your art what it is.

MY TWO PENCE.
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:iconormille:
Ormille Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2013   Artist
thank you so much.
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:iconcatwagons:
Catwagons Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I frequently come back to this journal. I struggled with the exact same situation and was told to put my style away and "stop drawing that stuff because I'd never make a career out of it."
I think it's really important to have a solid understanding in the basics in order to stylize something, but I feel that negatively-charged "criticism" really damaged me as an artist. I'm just now coming to terms with what my "style" really is; forgetting all the naysaying that was pounded into my head has been a very long process. It has been cathartic and freeing. I still work on my basics and continually learn new things, but I know now that traditionalism was never really where my heart or my soul was. I really appreciate you taking the time to write this. It has changed the way I look at myself, and empowered me to keep evolving into the artist I want to be. :heart:
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:iconthinktink606432:
Thinktink606432 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Student Filmographer
Gah, my teacher is/was the same way. Mind you, she was a nice lady, but a horrid teacher. First off, she was ditsy as all hell. She would often lose a person's work or forget she gave out assignment. Second, she didn't actually "teach" anything. She would just say, "Okay I want you to draw this vase" and expect us to draw it. She would then critique what we did wrong, but never told us how to do something correctly beforehand.

It also doesn't help that my school treats it's fine art students (there are literally a handful of us. I was the only fine arts major in my class and only one of two students who could actually draw) like trash. Giving us the oldest crumbling building and the most outdated equipment. With the worst teacher's imaginable.

She would often critique my work saying my lines where "too dark" and that they looked to cartoonish...in her eyes. One, i'm going to school to go on into animation..so that's probably affect my style and two I have very poor eyesight (even with glasses) so the dark lines help me see better.

I would say it was just like taking HS art all over again, but my High School art teacher was very encouraging despite being given the worst of material.
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
You sure we didn't go to the same school? Hahahah

Nah actually my school was way too fond of its fine art students, if anything, and made every part of the school fine-artsy as a result. We actually had teachers in the illustration department look down on students looking to sell their work and make a living from it -- because that doesn't make a fine artist in values.

Still, your comments trike very close to home for myself.
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:iconlumnili:
Lumnili Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013   Digital Artist
Thank you for writing this. I know this journal is a few months old, but I found myself re-reading it because I find it very helpful and I have to make the decision about whether to study animation or go for a more standard college degree. Either way, I won't be doing exactly what I wanted but I think studying something art related is better than listening to boring lectures (I've been doing things like that for most of my life and I don't need any more of it) My thought is that if I have to study something, it might as well be something that could help me develop on what I care about: Art.

What troubles me is that I don't know know if studying animation here will really help me improve or if it could have the opposite effect. If the teachers don't like the way I draw, I'll have to waste all my energy on creating a false 'identity' that only appeals to them, so instead of improving I'll just be running in circles and making bad decisions about how I draw. I'd like to think that what the teachers really want in their students is creativity, skill and a unique style, but your journal showed me that not all of them are like that and some are more concerned about bending students to their own way of thinking.

I think I'm going to go for it and apply for the college, as long as I don't feel like I'm losing myself in the process. I can always quit if it's a complete disaster. After all it's probably better not to study art at all than to completely lose your sense of style and purpose. Your journals have really helped me think more carefully about college!
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
For animation, make sure you go to a school known for producing good students through it's program, and has good quality facilities. Go to a place that will teach you to draw better and teach animation in the process. You shouldn't say "they might not like how I draw" -- because a good school will teach you. Feng Zhu School of Design is good for this, for example. As they teach everyone that goes through that school how to draw one particular way, but the skills you learn that one particular way can have long reaching and profound effects on your own personal art. (Remember: it's OK to have a personal art style which you do for your own personal enjoyment as we as a... "professional" style(?). A style which you use primarily for client work and the like.

Remember that getting a degree in art upon graduation is a scam. It means literally nothing. A school that can teach you real skills and real experience and help you produce a REAL portfolio (but only gives a certificate at the end) is far more valuable than a traditional 4-year wishy-washy art college with a BFA at the end of it (like what I went through.)

Also, if you want to learn skills that are different than your usual drawing abilities, learn 3D modeling and/or programming. 3D is a VERY VERY needed skill that is much harder to learn on your own than drawing / illustrating. You can always pursue drawing yourself, but do a more in-demand job professionally. I wish I had done that.
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:iconlumnili:
Lumnili Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013   Digital Artist
I live in Ireland so there's very little choice here, but the school I'm looking into seems to have the best reputation in the country. I'm just worried that they might not like my style as opposed to my actual skill level and will try to change my style more than they help me improve. That part about a personal style and a 'professional' style sounds interesting... I don't quite understand how I'd do that but I'll keep that in mind for when the time comes.

I'm aware that getting a degree means nothing in the art world, but due to my particular circumstances and aspirations, it's important that I get a degree in something (anything). Anyway, schools like that don't exist in Ireland, so doing a 4 year course is my option (I would definitely like to study abroad at one of those schools if I could, but 3rd level education in Ireland is cheap and I just wouldn't be able to afford to study abroad).

I'm pretty sure 3D modeling is part of the course I'm looking into. I think this school is also fairly good at teaching you the basics since they do life drawing classes. Thanks for the advice! And I didn't expect you to reply like that so thank you for that too!
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
What I mean by the style bit, is that don't be afraid to be molded into doing different styles of art. You're not a rock statue -- once you're sculpted into form, any further changes made to you are not permanent. Part of it is conditioning. It's easy to resist being made to draw in different styles and subject matters. But if you open up and try those different things, you can find, quite rapidly, that it improves your overall approach to art -- including your own personal style that you love doing. If experimentation in other styles doesn't come natural to you, a school / mentor can help greatly with that. It doesn't mean you'll change permanently and only do the style they teach you from that day forward. It can have great effects on your own personal style.
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:iconlumnili:
Lumnili Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2013   Digital Artist
That is another way of looking at it. I think I'd consider myself 'selectively open minded', in that I could draw something in a different style if I like it, but I never really stray too far from my own. Perhaps I could discover more if I was told to try a style that I've never even considered drawing in before. Actually, it was probably a bit silly to think that being made draw in a style I don't like could have such a negative impact on my personal art. Like you said, I'm not a rock statue- I can discard what I don't like and keep only what I want to keep.

I'm glad I got to talk with you because I think I feel a lot more prepared for the portfolio I have to do now. I think you're a great artist with a very distinct style- I hope my style will also develop to be as distinct in its own way. Thank you for your advice!
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:iconyezzzsir:
yezzzsir Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2013
..two pence well spent!
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:iconmero-ix:
mero-ix Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013
(Also, that was 10 years ago, but because of all the negativity from people throughout high school and college I still feel "ashamed" to show my work to people irl and a lot of the people I know now don't even know I'm an artist.)
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:iconmero-ix:
mero-ix Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013
Same happened to me, though it wasn't too bad. Had a couple professors who weren't keen on me drawing "anime", but didn't bring me down about it. Though, first day of class one asked which of us drew anime and after raising our hands he "jokingly" said "you all fail." (Though he did eventually admit that he liked my style, so that was nice of him at least.) I got more negativity from my peers, in the animation class. If you drew anime you weren't a real artist as far as they were concerned.
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:iconcircus-of-dreams:
Circus-of-Dreams Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Dead on.
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:iconjadekingfisher:
JadeKingfisher Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
*sheds a tear* god this is an amazing bit of advice/experience/inspiration <3
ive been debating back and fourth for a while now, as to whether i should indeed
go to art school. In NZ theres a few good places to study i mean for the size of the country anyways,
the pricing (for art degrees) doesnt seem terrible and life scarring :'D
and from your last statement, i think i will indeed go to art school, draw however
and whatever i feel i need to, inorder to become the best i can be >U<
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:iconderlaine8:
Derlaine8 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
yeah I totally had the "wow I drew shit because I didnt care about what I drew" realization too T_T
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:iconolgaandreyeva:
OlgaAndreyeva Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I'm at Pratt for communication design, which is includes illustration. Most of my professors are actually working professionals, and they have a decent idea about the market. Most are really adamant about you finding your own voice, and critiques are about how well your piece is communicating an idea rather how marketable your style is. I've had no problems on that end, other then personally being confused about what I want.
The problems I've had was that there is a lot of focus on editorial and publishing careers and much less on cartoons, comics, games and the like. It makes sense considering the big corporate companies in New York, but there could be improvement. People I know who were dead set on comics or animation were on the verge of dropping out because of how broad the major actually is, sophomore year everyone has to take and equal amount of graphic design and illustration classes. I like the foundation though, and am interested in graphic design, so it worked for me.
I dunno just my two cents.
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:iconnoche-estrellada:
noche-estrellada Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The 5th paragraph of your response sums up exactly why I didn't want to go to art school, and pursued physics instead. I work on my art in my spare time so I can have a (relatively) unbiased view of how to improve my work and style, while studying something I know I enjoy but isn't so open to opinion.

I took IB art in secondary school. It was a new course at our school (compared to A-levels), so our teacher thought it was to follow the same structure as the A-level course, i.e. modular. I started off drawing whatever I wanted within the theme of 'comics', which in itself pushed me to study anatomy. A new teacher came in halfway through the first year, and decided she didn't like how we'd structured the course (it's supposed to be one continuous flow of ideas and work). She also didn't like the project I'd started out on, instead pretty much forcing me to delve into readymades, recycling and natural form. I liked, aesthetically, some of the pieces I produced, but they weren't really me, they were just the product of messing around within the theme. The majority of my pieces were a load of crap, but they 'fit in with the theme'. Before this, I'd worked my hardest on the comics project, producing some pieces I never thought I could, and I was really proud of them.

Onto the exam. IB art has an oral exam where you take the examiner through a gallery of all the work you've produced in the two years. I had to basically say that I wasn't happy with the direction my comics project was going in, and chose to veer off in an unrelated direction; I was confused, artistically, but I'd rehearsed it in my head enough times. I got a high mark, but I was sick of 'art' by the end, and it's been a good 3 years since I sat down and did some serious artwork from the heart (but that's partly my degree's fault, heh).
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:iconkitsuru:
Kitsuru Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013   Digital Artist
That information is interesting. I'm currently going to evening art classes and I feel my teachers are too stuck on traditional means. But I'm still considering going to a full-time art school after finishing my current college diploma. I know you can learn everything through self-study, but there's so much to take into consideration that I don't know where to start by myself. Plus i think it would be great to meet people who are in the same state of mind
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:iconvarethane:
Varethane Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013
This is a really interesting entry, though I (am pretty sure that I am) finished with school as of August. I got a very traditional Bachelor of Fine Arts at a school in Canada and spent one semester at RISD for an exchange, and I do remember being very impressed at the extent to which RISD offered its students services to connect with jobs and research the industry they were aiming to go into. The cost of attending as a 'real' student seemed unbelievably high to me though (I was paying my home school's tuition because of the way the exchange worked, but if I hadn't been, the cost of that single semester would have roughly equalled the cost of my entire BFA tuition here in Canada); I had some qualms about my home school's lack of support for helping students and alumni find employment and the way significant chunks of the faculty (especially in the 'traditional' disciplines like painting and printmaking) seemed stuck in the conceptual art movement of the 1970s, but it was relatively inexpensive (made easier by scholarships) and I was having fun messing with my teachers by tying in all of my work to comics somehow, so I was okay with that. I can't imagine how I would feel about the whole experience if it had been putting me multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt though :X

I did still feel less rosy about the whole experience after eight months of being totally unable to find a job in the field and starting to go stir-crazy with no assignments to keep my art-brain occupied. Ended up taking a one-year post-graduate course in animation at Sheridan which worked out beyond my wildest dreams, I wonder where I'd be today if I'd just gone there from the beginning, haha. I don't regret the BFA though, I made a lot of great friends and it helped shape who I am as a person.

Definitely have a lot of Opinions about the state of art schools now, though. XD The school I got my BFA from fits most into the first category, I think, though there are a bunch of good professors who are really pushing to try to get some new media and updated facilities in (and also to expand their roster of departments to include Illustration as a major or at least a minor, rather than just two or three classes awkwardly stradding Fine Art and Design). It's slow going though, since the school is constantly on the edge of bankruptcy and currently at risk of being bought out by another university...
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:iconspikethefistman:
SpikeTheFistMan Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013
Best two pence of my life.

Is this the lottery? Did I win?
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:iconmyselfsama:
Myselfsama Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Like :thumbsup:
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:iconlaitma:
Laitma Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Student General Artist
Wow, I just wanted to say thanks so much for this terrific post. It's really something to consider and keep in mind--particularly for someone like me, who's actually applying right now to art schools.

I'm a bit of a weird case--I have a Bachelor's in Engineering but took a few classes at MICA my last year, and that's what made me decide to take the leap and give art a shot, as it was what truly made me happy. But I like to think that I'll hopefully be going in with a lot less preconceptions of what art school is like or can deliver, and I know for sure that I can back out or transfer if I realize that the school's not right for me. I've been working on art on my own for years and years now--I know that I could probably teach myself to identify and work on my weak points as I go, but I still want to attend--for the connections and the environment, I guess, but also because those classes I did take at MICA jump-started my art way more than I would've been able to accomplish on my own. I've found that I have a very isolated art life if I do this by myself, no matter how much online feedback I get, and sitting in on a few art classes just really changed my perspective, and allowed me to see what it was like to stand among peers with similar interests.

Anyway, I'm rambling, but I just wanted to say thanks again for this article--I'll definitely keep it in mind when I go to school, and try to remember to stay true to myself. :)
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Just definitely try to find a school that fits your needs. Not sure if any nearby you would work out, but sometimes travelling is necessary to grow if you really want to attend the RIGHT one.

I'd say, since you have a decent handle on things already, try to find a college (or workshops! remember workshops exist!) that can pick you up more or less where you're at and work on things that interest you, and things you could be doing better, etc. If you go to a general 4-year art college, expect to be shown "Art" in the most general sense. Meaning, you'll be taught a little bit of every corner of art and it will be up to you to see what sticks. If you're looking for self-enrichment in your art, this could be ideal, since it will have you try a lot of new things and expose you to a LOT of variation in your peers. If you're doing it for the potential of working professionally some day, specialized schools teach the skills you need (no deploma at the end, but employers don't care about that,) and still improve your art at the same time. So take that into some consideration.

Also, if you don't have one, get yourself a decent interchangeable lens camera when you get a chance -- even a mirrorless or micro four-thirds system. It's such a fun hobby, and very very good for developing your understanding of perspective, composition, contrast, light, and color.
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:iconlaitma:
Laitma Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Student General Artist
Yeah, I've done a lot of research into schools (this time around xD), and I'm looking at SCAD and MCAD, mostly because I want to get a degree in comics/sequential art--I'm looking at preproduction right now. SCAD seems less... traditional? and more modernized; they seem to be more open to fostering any sort of style, so they're my top choice for now. I've debated the 4-year course versus master's courses at art schools previously, but I've realized that I kind of do want the more general approach, a chance to really see and experience the whole art world, which I've never formally been introduced to. I'd like to be able to dabble in film and photography and sculpture if I do go, s-so... yeah. (Definitely photography--I've been itching for the chance to take a class in that for forever, but never had the opportunity!)

What specialized schools do you know of where you could gain this art experience, if I may ask? I would be interested in that--I just didn't realize that there are specialized schools for art?
Also, have you heard of TAD (The Art Department)? How do you feel about them, if you have? o:
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:iconklaufir:
Klaufir Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013   Digital Artist
I've been getting this crud since day one at my school. To be fair, the instructors and students who do this are in the minority, but their words have done a lot of damage. My shyness and lack of confidence is partially due to the harsh and destructive words I've received. I chose to ignore it and keep expanding on my art in the ways I wanted to, and I feel it has benefited me, even if it has led to a lot of suffering and isolation.

I'm glad there are talented people like you and Endling who are willing to express things like this. It's inspiring to someone who feels very lost most of the time. It reminds me that there might be hope somewhere in the distant future, and that I am not wholly worthless for drawing differently than what I was told to draw. Thank you very much.
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:iconolgaandreyeva:
OlgaAndreyeva Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
oh no : c, but your work is so lovely
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:iconsaucypirate:
saucypirate Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
I just wanna say that I know a bunch of people attending various arts programs here in Toronto, and some of them are taught by the most incredible artists who take up teaching on the side of what they do normally. One of my friends went back to school and has a class taught to her by Omar Dogan (of Udon fame). So not all schools are full of dusty old farts. Sometimes there's places with people who are talented, still working professionally, who take the time to teach their passions to those willing.

Anyway... I tend to agree with what everyone's saying about how a lot of art profs are very anal and how they consider "anime" to not be art. Anything that's on paper, regardless of what it's influence is from, is art. It kind of makes me glad that I never went to an actual art school sometimes. x_x
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
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:iconspaceturtlestudios:
SpaceTurtleStudios Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Ugh. It really is ridiculous how much of art school is stuck in the 70's or even the early 90's in terms of what they're teaching. I don't think there were ANY classes on how to do anything digitally, even the basics like "how to scan your artwork and retouch it in Photoshop" or "advice on building a website." Many of my teachers were rather wary or reluctant to let me turn in any work that had been done digitally. I know art schools are notorious for not teaching any of the business of art, but really, it's 2013 now, they need to get with it. I've considered teaching some local classes now that I've graduated, just giving the basics of how to get your art archived digitally and out there on the web. Because those skills were incredibly helpful to me when I was in art school, (and landed me my first actual job afterward) and I was just lucky to have learned it all on my own beforehand.

I also had the problem of teachers not liking my style, and it really hurt because I ended up waffling, going back and forth between the more realistic style the school wanted and what I actually wanted to do. (It didn't help that our school hated illustration, so we had one teacher running the entire department, an older lady whose personal work was very realistic and super detailed.) Fortunately by my last two years I said "screw this, I do what I want" and just painted what I liked. But things definitely got a bit tense the last year or so.

At this point, I mostly regret that the experience wasn't as in-depth as it could have been. Because we only had the one professor, our illustration assignments were rather limited. I would have liked to go to a school where there was a dedicated character design, or environment design, or other specialized classes. Fortunately, the tuition wasn't that high, so I didn't lose a lot of money over it, but I've considered doing some extra classes just to try to push myself and get the challenge that I didn't really have in art school.
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:iconjojocookie-chan:
JoJoCookie-Chan Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013  Hobbyist
Your statements echo a lot of my own feelings about art school. I just graduated with a master's, and really I feel I only began to develop my own artistic identity in the very last months of the last semester. The couple years prior were a lot of testing out different mediums, working on the general building blocks, and in retrospect it seems a lot of it was fulfilling the requirements of the curriculum rather than really doing something I personally wanted to do. I don't want to be jaded and say these past years were a waste; however, I feel the biggest lesson I learned was the importance of not being afraid to choose your own method of creative expression and to pursue it with passion and sincerity. Like you addressed in your closing statement, you don't want your personal voice as an artist to get lost among the almost staggering amount of information bombarded by from each professor/critic with their different backgrounds/methods/preferences. I think in some ways I placed limitations on myself as a result of the more traditional, fine art oriented classes I was stuck with in the beginning, rather than being confidant and allowing myself to try new things, make "mistakes", and to not be afraid to see my art evolve in this process of exploration. It's supposed to be fun, not a chore. Not sure if it's the nature of the institution that put me in this mindset, or if it's just something within me that I had to overcome. Did I have to go to art school to come to a realization that I didn't really need art school? That hurts my brain. Both you and Endling have had very relatable and meaningful information to share. Thank you for expressing your thoughts.
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:iconwinglesshinata:
WinglessHinata Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I'm not even in art school yet and I have already gotten stuff like this from my high school art teacher. Good lord, every day she would patronize me about how my art looked took "anime-ish" despite the fact that she knows I wish to be a cartoonist. So for a couple of months, I was conflicted like how you were. I didn't know what to do. I understood that the school didn't want "cartoon" art on their walls and that's why my teacher was telling me these things. However, she could have simply explained it in a less targeting way.
Then when I went to National Portfolio Day in my country (it's a day where a ton of art school reps gather to come and see your portfolio and give you advice about it for free). Turns out everyone said the art I was making in school was pure shit. Even the rep from my dream school said, "I want more anime, none of this nonsense."
Teachers sometimes though OTL Goodness
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:iconorange-manifesto:
orange-manifesto Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Student General Artist
If this is your problem, I advise you go to a small liberal arts college. They usually don't have enough funding to be strict. Also, I've never had any of these problems in my art classes. Maybe I'm just not pushing things enough.
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Not everyone would have these problems, even if they went to my school. These sorts of complaints definitely apply on an individual basis. Whether the student has already chosen a definite career path before attending, or has a definite voice in their own art and style can have a large effect on the particularness of their instruction. I feel that people who have a wide interest in art and are very new and malleable to all things from having no real prior experience will find just about any school eye-opening. I can say that my school would have been great if I didn't have any prior extensive thought and consideration on particular areas things I wanted to do. But, I did, and I found to my dismay that they didn't deliver.
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:iconorange-manifesto:
orange-manifesto Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Student General Artist
Now I'm curious. What kind of an educational/work background do you have? (Other than the art school stuff you're talking about.)
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Not much. You can find my prior work from my resume on my website, www.orianart.com

Where my complaints come from are that I knew what I wanted to get into, and where I wanted to be within the art world. But by the time I was nearly done with my schooling, I felt like I was hardly prepared for anything that was relevant to my interests and goals. Not everyone at my school wanted to do the same sort of work I wanted to, (pre-production design, art for entertainment, production art, 3D modelling, comics type stuff, etc,) so that's why a number of my classmates don't feel quite the same I do. This is why I regret in particular attending my school of choice, not school in general. I'd kill for the opportunity to do it all over at a school that would have trained me in my particular needs so I'd be much more viable in a studio setting, rather than teaching me "Art" in the most general sense imaginable, something that I already didn't need much help with. (especially for 4 years.)
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:iconorange-manifesto:
orange-manifesto Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Student General Artist
Thanks for that link to your website. I hadn't seen a resume displayed that way before, so it was quite striking while still being informative.

What specific needs didn't AIB meet for you? From what I can tell, your education there has served you well.

Have you been able to find work recently? I know that's something you've journaled about a while back, but I can't remember if you said anything about if you got a job.
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:iconchocobohero:
chocobohero Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I enjoy reading about this because we're actually in similar situations---I'm interested in learning about your progress and your tutorials and stories have encouraged me to grow in terms of ambition! Hope your collab commissions go well and I'm pumped for Synthesis!
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:iconwinterbourne:
winterbourne Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I have no love for anything I produced when I was in school. None of it is really me: I had to get approvals from people who talked about working corporate design in the 70s and 80s like it was a golden time.

They sneered at comics, despite how difficult the medium is to learn to execute well, and how you need to have strong design sense, knowledge of typography, good drafting and colour theory, plus know about printing and displays and stuff to actually pull it off.

And GAWD two of them were just awful people. Their pages on Ratemyprofessors are full of Stockholm syndrome b.s. about how "tough" they were and how they "really pushed you" to develop. They were awful, hateful fossils. Christian and sweet and not trying to convert? You're a moron. Asian and female? You need to be bullied because your culture's made you too conformist and you need to learn to be unique. Genuinely independent thinker? Screw you. It's such bullcrap. They pushed us through fear of failure, not supporting skills and critical thinking.

I couldn't pick up a pencil for a year after I dropped out. It took years to get back to somewhere that I thought I might have something to say, and it's shaky still.

For what it's worth, Matt, you were a big help to me. Looking at your stuff helped me lose my fear that I wasn't going to improve. It was the way you did environments -- they had such character and interest that it made me interested in what the world looked like again. Nobody told me "backgrounds" could be fun to research and bring so much life to a scene. It helped me want to learn more and improve for myself. And in turn I was able to help others. So, thank you. :) That's my 2 for your rainy day self-esteem fund! ;)
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:iconbesunony:
BesuNony Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013
You know, sometimes I wish I had gotten a chance to really get to know you when we were in art school together.

You've got a good head on your shoulders and have solid advice. I agree with most of what you said. I learned some good and bad things while at our particular art school, and while I sort of wish I had gone elsewhere (because my wallet is still hemorrhaging money to pay that debt) I am happy that I made some life long friends there and got some great memories. As well as got to see/meet the guy who spurred me to try harder back in high school. (I'm referring to your piece with the motorcycle and female rider from the Globe Show. It's a small world.)

But again, I wish it could have happened without the giant price tag. I think I learned more from my fellow students than some of the teachers. Though, as you pointed out, there were some really good teachers there. Those were the ones that didn't make you conform and tried to help you develop your art in your own style. Not the cookie cut out that some of the others set up. However, there were not enough of those teachers to really get each student to fine tune their own unique artistic voice and make the work that was true to that individual.

Though, I personally took great pleasure in disobeying some of the teachers who gave cookie cutter rules on how to set up a piece because they believe that was the only way to create it correctly. Mostly just to show them that they were wrong and that it could be done another way and still be successful. And to see them outside their comfort zone. It's those particular memories that I relish.

I'm glad that you did what you needed to do to grow as an artist. It gives the rest of us hope and pushes us not to give up.

The fact that you had the guts to leave art school to go down your own path and the success of the pieces that you did because it was what YOU wanted to do will always be one of the things that I'll remember from our particular art school.
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I was talking with Yanyu about that yesterday. That is really just about what it comes down to -- I wouldn't be so mad / in arms about the whole thing if it wasn't so mind boggingly expensive. If it cost the same (or just marginally more) than Mass Art, I probably wouldn't be so mad. But it cost as much as 6+ years of my income if I never spent a single cent of it.

I do think some teachers purposely try to set up their class so that you'll try to disobey it. And the greatest lessons learned from a lot of those classes is that rules can be broken. (But why you need to be paying money for those revelations that don't even pertain to the class at hand is beyond me.) I will give our school one thing: they may not have done much for me technically or conceptually as an artist, but boy did they teach me a lot about being skeptical.

I originally had to leave school because it was too expensive and I couldn't afford it anymore. But now I'm not going back because of every other reason.
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:iconjinzilla:
jinzilla Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Student
thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. it makes me a lot more confident/less stressed knowing that i'm not the only one having doubts. hopefully i'll make it through my last year or so of art school alive. C':
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:iconredconvoy:
redconvoy Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I had real art teachers at Broward Community College that encouraged you to do your own style (And this is not an art school). What they taught you was totally wrong and if I were there, I would remind them what being a REAL ARTIST is all about. That's like saying all directors should follow in the steps of James Cameron or Steven Spielberg and have no creative outlet of their own. Your own style was REAL ART. You're not paying them to make you like everyone else. You're paying them to improve your skills as an artist to get a job out there. They know darn well that artists march to the beat of their own drums and not follow the norm which is what they were trying to pull. I would file a complaint because those teachers are inept and they should not be teaching.
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:iconnarcoticdream:
narcoticdream Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013
We sit close together, I've been through the same critique and am too a dropout XD, our circunstance and why we got those critiques tho, might differ a bit.

It's hard to compare really, education in Brazil is way, WAY different than in the US. The art department in our colleges has some severe restrictions, part of it because it just doesn't have money, part of it is a heritage from the military dictatorship from 40 years ago sill kicking shit down our throaths today. (the amount of credits the course has, for example, was slashed by half during the dictatorship, that still stands...)

So the teachers don't like animu, they really really don't. But I get why, I understand them. They, tho, can't see part of what we see...

All of their education is based on hundreds of years of art and it's evolution, they're, obviously, focused on fine arts in all it's wonderful shapes and forms. Tho they do, from time to time, recognize some "lesser" forms of art as art (Cartooning, animation etc..). Aniimu is just too new and too full of bad examples to be able to make a stand. how can they encourage you if all they ever heard about is dragonball and naruto? If their first impression of anime was Cowboy Beebop and Akira what would they think of it?

The fact is the gaijin dream of becomin teh mangaka is, verily, a dream, and an unnecessary one. we can see by the entertainment and products we consume, that there is space and market for our "influenced" style here. In comics, in game design, in animation, wherever you want.

But they often (at least here, where all the art education you can get is fine art) don't think of those markets, even if they worked on them. They are not art, they are too new. They are not what your country, your people, your culture, produce.


Well fuck that.

REALLY FUCK THAT! we are a generation born inside the globalized world. I've spent 15 years in the internet and helped shape it as a comunication form, I navigate it very well, and that's who I am, a globalized citizen, with multicultural influences and the ability to comunicate and work worldwide. Local galleries where never a constraint or a concern to me.

But they aren't. they can't see as far as we can in this field (sometimes). Their experience is amazingly valuable, but we gotta steer our own boat with what we learn from them. If we are not fidgeting blindly through this field using the most of our increbly ample set of skills to try and navigate an uncertain course, we are not making progress. Charted waters are charted waters, we have to create our own space in the world and in the field, thats' hard! Our attitude takes us farther than our education, but we need both (be you college or self educated).

Making a living with art in Brazil is extremely difficult. I know that VERY well, my mother is an artist, so am I, and I work in an art gallery, I have contact with artist and creatives from all fields and techniques in my city. The main problem here, is there is no industry. There is no animation industry, no comics industry, no gaming industry. they are all very very small and we do have a large surplus of creatives. Here, at least, that's why they take this stance.
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:iconnerostreet:
NeroStreet Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Heh, sounds like the same rants I hear from ex-Art Institute students. Those places are all scams, anyway.
And although I've heard the same rants from accredited art schools, I still think art schools serve a useful function. I didn't actually major in art, but I did minor in it, and I feel my art, though still mediocre, is better because of those few drawing classes I was lucky enough to get into.

But take it from someone who has been STRUGGLING to make a decent living with my art, even WITH my job. Despite working at the same place for five year, I am VERY far below the poverty level. I've used my art as a means of just getting a little bit of pocket money and living with my parents because of how difficult it it to make a living wage in this country right now (or at least where I live).
I've even attempted to get a few of my ideas published, but juggling depression with my crappy job has produced little work and little to no success. Anything I've ever gotten published in was either for free or for very little money.
Any projects that COULD have landed me a job in drawing, even for a little while, were always met in defeat because as it turns out, many artists are flakes. Namely freelance ones. (No offense.)

For YEARS I've cursed my father for not allowing me to go to art school like I initially wanted to, thinking that perhaps if I had been doing what I wanted to do in the FIRST place, I would at least have a foot in the door. Perhaps if I made friends with people tied into the field (excluding the possibility of a Type 1 school that you pointed out), then maybe, JUST MAYBE, I'd be better off than I am now. Perhaps I wouldn't be working retail and going nowhere fast.
Or maybe I would have. Who knows? All I know is that I chose the easiest path and there isn't a day that goes by I don't kick myself for it.

But I am also righting a wrong by finally knuckling down, moving out of the US and thus my comfort zone, and going to an animation school I've been looking into since I was in high school. Sure, it's only a one-year intensive, but considering how I've been struggling financially, I'd rather just pay for the one year than throwing myself back into a two-or-four-year school. At least the debt won't be too massive when I get out.
Is there a possibility that I could end up in the same hopeless position that I am now? More than I'd like to admit. But at this point, it would be stupid of me NOT to try. Even if at the end of it all I land a job in a field that's BETTER and more geared towards what I'd like to do, that's a success in my book.

I think it's also important to keep in mind that not all art schools are the same. Because of the rapidly-changing industry, yes, it is getting harder and harder to teach kids how to work in the field. But at least it gives them a starting point for them to catch up. It forces students to keep drawing and to improve their craft. It forces students to think about what they need in order to polish their portfolios, as opposed to stumbling in blindly like I have for the past few years.

I majored in creative writing and a lot of what Endling rants about was true for me. Although I don't write genre-fiction, my professors DETESTED it. I remember one class actually gave us a list of things we could NOT write about, which baffled me. I thought I was majoring in CREATIVE writing. Seemed really hypocritical that these people who SHOULD be very creative, wanted to limit their students' creativity. As you can imagine, I was pretty miserable the rest of my time there. Writing was the only other outlet I had besides art.
Someone told me at some point that the professors do that because they wanted us to learn to break the rules. Which is BS in my mind. How can I go against the word of the person who determines whether or not I pass the class?
I suppose the same is true for art professors to some extent. I can see WHY they make their students try to fit "industry standards," just as my professors made me write short stories that only local publishers might be interested in, but that is the WRONG way of teaching, IMO.
I don't think it's so much an art school problem as much as it is a problem with education in general. Especially in the US, or so I gather.

But I will say this: I have a friend who dropped out of an AI school, promising that he would get his portfolio and demo reel together on his own, using tutorials and references online. Three years later, zip. Nada. Only a few doodles over the years and a growing debt over his head.
I've fallen into this trap myself of not doing more with my art. And I HATE how I feel like I've stopped improving the last two years. So I'm going back to brush up on my skills so hopefully the next time I send my portfolio and demo reel to someone, I just MIGHT find a job.
Really, a lot of it has to do with my environment. Although I love my friends and family, I am being SUFFOCATED by not being around other creative people. It is so difficult for people to understand how I function as an artist, so another reason I'm going: I need to surround myself with like-minded people to help my own art grow.

So although I'm not DISAGREEING with you, I think you also miss the bigger picture. Art school is NOT just about improving your art. Yes, there's a lot of conforming just to get students' work to "industry standards," but I think it helps out more than one would think. But it's also about making connections: finding someone that could help you land a good job. It's also about opening yourself up to new ideas about art, even if you later reject those ideas and find your own voice.

Art school can give you the tools, how you use them is up to you.
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I mean absolutely no disrespect by saying this, but I don't believe I'm missing the bigger picture :)

Art schools CAN give you the tools. However, you'll notice that in all of my rants, I make constant references to "my" school. And that's the core of what I'm trying to tell people: if you go to art school, don't go to a school that doesn't equip you with said tools.

When all is said and done, many schools like the one I attended make many promises to get you to apply for admission. Then after you graduate, you find many of those promises were not kept, or unrealistic to begin with. $50,000 to $100,000 in tuition over a period of four years is a large, LARGE investment to only find out that you disagree with some professors and go off to find your own artistic voice. All that money, time and effort, and my school takes the credit for my transformation? True, there were some key points in my journey as a student that only my school could have provided to get me where I am, (wherever I am,) but were those worth the debt? I don't think so. Would I be in a better or worse place now if I hadn't gone? Like I've said, there's no way of knowing -- but boy would I jump at the opportunity to find out.

Also, I believe that no prospective student should expect expect anything in the way of "contacts" and such by attending. There is absolutely NO guarantee from any art school that you will graduate knowing people in high places that will get you opportunities. Even in art school, just as it is in real life, it's mostly just luck and being in the right place at the right time. It may raise your chances, but don't go with expectations that those chances are even over 50% likely. I believe that going in with low expectations keeps you working more diligently for yourself and yourself only, not expecting any handouts to "get you there." When an opportunity knocks, you'll be pleasantly surprised, and completely, totally prepared.
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:iconnerostreet:
NeroStreet Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Ah, do forgive me if I have misunderstood you. I can't really say as I read all your art school rants, so I don't know all the details of your experiences there.
I've got a friend right now who ALMOST went to AI. Luckily she's still in high school, so I managed to let her know what a fraud they are before signing up.
Actually, that's why I chose the art school I did: they didn't promise me the sun and the moon, but just laid out: "This is what you'll have at the end of it. The rest is up to you." The fact that they were so down-to-earth was a good part of my decision to go there. I'm still terrified, but at least I know what I'm getting into instead of being promised some dream job and then coming out without a clue. I did do a bunch of research and read a lot of reviews.
The fact my friend isn't doing the same somewhat concerns me, but that's something else entirely.
And actually, for my upcoming school year, I'm only paying about $22,000. It's basically a two-year animation program crunched into a one-year intensive. Perhaps I won't get the quality of a four-year school, but at least it's something I can handle.

And I have to disagree. I do think it does matter which school you attend. Some of my heroes such as Tim Burton, Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, Pendleton Ward, Thurop Van Orman, and Genndy Tartakovsky all got where they are because of their professors or friends were in the business. Of course they all went to CalArts I think, so that's a huge part of it. Sadly, I just DO NOT have the energy to go to school for another three years or so. Not to mention it costs and arm and a leg.
Is it a guarantee? No. But as someone who attempted to make a name for myself, it's very hard when you're a nobody in a town full of nobodies. It's at least a BETTER chance than having virtually no chance at all, or having to work for several years with minimal successes struggling with depression, anxiety, and terrible jobs, constantly wondering the "what ifs."
So no, I'm not going in as a wide-eyed kid with huge expectations, thinking I'll come out and be famous like Walt Disney. I'm going in to learn animation, to meet other like-minded people, and to increase my chances of becoming a success. I still know there's a chance that I might fail. But at least I will no longer have to wonder the "what ifs."
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Ah, real quick for the record, not sure if you were bringing up Ai because you found the name of my school: the school I attended has no affiliation or connection with the for-profit Ai chain. My school is a non-for-profit private institution that has been in operation since the early 1900's, though it's gone under several "reincarnations" through the decades. Even back in 2005, I made sure to avoid the Ai's because the local one in Boston (AI New England) had a pretty terrible reputation. So when I complain about my school, surprisingly it's not for really any of the problems that are becoming so well documented by ex-Ai students.

I also wasn't disagreeing with you originally that the school doesn't matter -- of course it does :) My school isn't as bad as I make it out to be. It was just bad for me, for a person with my goals and mindset. It wasn't a good fit, and is why I wish I had gone elsewhere -- instead of having not gone to school at all. My rants can sound a bit like I'm vilifying the entire art college world, but I'm not -- I'm just trying to raise awareness about students being very careful in the decisions they make instead of just plowing on ahead without thinking of future ramifications (like I did, and are paying dearly for it.)

Professional contacts at (any) school are definitely a gamble. Your heroes that went to college likely didn't go there with the mindset that they're going to get a shoe-in-the-door just by attending, they met people through their passion and sprung forward. Going to some schools like CalArts still have a chance of these relationships never forming if certain opportunities aren't seized or pursued diligently. I know this isn't what you're getting at, but I see too many people who attend college on the mindset that they go in unskilled one end, pop out a pro the other end, and have everything they need for a fruitful career ahead of them, just because they sat in class and paid tuition. In a lot of ways, the schools are responsible for putting that idea in their heads because of marketing and sensationalism. But it seems so hard to convince those people, even after they graduated (with nothing really to show for it) that they should have never expected it to work that way in the first place, using common sense. Work to form meaningful relationships and be grateful for them, don't sit around and expect them to come as a standard part of the school's programming. -- That's what I was really getting at, those kinds of people. I assume you were talking about working toward them (properly) to begin with :)
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:iconnerostreet:
NeroStreet Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2013  Professional Filmographer
(Apologies for the late reply. Work had me running ragged last week.)

Ahhh, I see. Yeah, I was wondering since I wasn't sure which one you went to. At least you dodged a bullet there. I almost went to the local AI here. Yeesh! Good thing I didn't

Ahhh, alright, I gotcha. I guess I took it as an attack at art schools in general. I have a friend who went to AI and for a while he was bashing art schools and colleges in general, and since your critiques were so similar, I misunderstood it. My mistake, then. ^^;
I can empathize with you on the level of not fitting in with your school. I had always felt that way about my university. Generally people have a good experience there, but I had goals that were different from the school. Though the reason I went to it was because it was convenient and it would be fairly cheap with my scholarship.
But I completely agree with you about doing your research before going to any school, especially since it is such a huge commitment. Perhaps it was a good thing I waited to go to art school since I have a little bit better idea of what I'm doing now than I did when I was in high school.

Absolutely. I had that same experience with my creative writing degree. I didn't make the connections that I did in writing because I didn't put the effort into it. Of course, my energies were spent on doing whatever I could in art, so it was a bit of a weird situation. But I do fully admit I didn't get as far as I could have in writing because I didn't give it my all. Nor did I want to for that matter, but that's a different story.
Incidentally, that was one of the reasons I decided against Vancouver Film School when I was doing my research. Not only did I read a barrage of bad reviews, but when I was talking to admissions, all he wanted to do was refer back to the website, which I could do anywhere, but also on the fact that Famous Persons X, Y, and Z went to the school, and Famous Professors A, B, and C teach at the school.
As you said, even CalArts is no guarantee if you're not willing to put the effort into it.

Yes, it seems we really are thinking more on the same levels than I first thought. I must say, this has been a great conversation, despite my misunderstandings, haha.
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
--- except for cal arts. to pretty good degree. Hahaha




But you pay for it.
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:iconcetriya:
Cetriya Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Student General Artist
Ringling is also a good school which makes a lot of effort to get you thinking of the business side of your career and tries to put you in front of studios.

But I still come across people and problems that shouldn't be an issue when you think about the amount of money spent. Even then, any art doctor or working professor will tell you that you need to make art outside assignments if you want to get anywhere. Beyond the foundations, spending 40hrs a week in class is a lot. Had I lived in an area like NY which has a lot of art work shops any open middle drawing sessions, I would have gone to art school.
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:iconfox-orian:
fox-orian Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Ringling always seemed nice. The skeptic in me looks at their student gallery page and wonder if this is only a small percentage of the best of the best, though, sugarcoating the experience. That's the hard part. I like that they do job fairs. I think those, even though a bit like a hand-out, are great at trying to force students out there to get professional work. My school had nothing in place to get students exposed to professional work early on -- and thus many of my classmates I feel have still gotten no work for what they studied for.

I wish more schools focused more on classtime being all about teaching and guidance, and the students should do the bulk of their work at home -- drive the importance of a personal workspace. I feel like many classmates only worked during the open work-day classes and once school was over, they never worked much at home, didn't have a personal workspace, and therefore their motivation dwindled away.
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