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 Their outdated views give an unrealistic landscape of what to expect in the professional art world, and therefore are unfit teachers.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.