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Submitted on
February 8, 2013


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 Their outdated views give an unrealistic landscape of what to expect in the professional art world, and therefore are unfit teachers.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

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Ormille Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2013   Artist
thank you so much.
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:
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 her eyes. One, i'm going to school to go on into 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
yezzzsir Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2013
..two pence well spent!
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