It’s been a fair while now since I graduated from Art school, it was my childhood dream to attend I had studied art for as long as I had been at an education institution so I kinda know a thing or two about Art and being an Artist.
Art school is a place of artistic experimentation, freedom and creativity but I walked away with my degree pretty deflated in one hand I gained an ok grade but in the other no real sense I had learned anything new. I often receive emails from students who are currently studying asking me for hints and tips about freelance life and how I got to where I am. I make no bones about my work, style and life, I’m an open book often when it comes to these things. I did study fine art at Falmouth University and did my foundation at Camberwell and as much as these are institutions that produce some of the top artist I did find myself questioning my life choice. Now looking back If I had the choice now I don’t think I would of studied fine art, I loved it, loved the friendships I made, adored the fact I could have my own studio space and work but in the end I never felt like I learnt much from doing the 3 year course. Fear not there were some positives and I believe we do things in life for a reason if I hadn’t gone I wouldn’t of met my ex and I wouldn’t of started this blog but I may have discovered something just as rewarding on my other path but who knows hey?!
I wanted to share my thoughts on the things I didn’t learn at art school, this is from my experience and I can only speak for myself
1. How Market yourself well
Studying for my fine art degree especially at Falmouth was very insular we were never directed on how to Market what we were doing, I understand with fine art it’s very old school and being a tortured artist is great an all but when I leave I want to keep working, making and earning a living from my art. We were never truly advised on this.
2. How to draw
Now don’t get me wrong I turned up with a knowledge on how to draw but my idea of learning about art was how to learn more about techniques my naive self thought I would be shown these wonderful ways to use watercolours, oils but alas nope.
3. To have confidence your my work
When I turned up to do my degree I had no idea what I was doing, if I was good enough. My lectures never really instilled in us a sort of confidence with our studio work. Now I am never the confident type and but my confidence in the art work was at an all time low when I was at uni because you’re surrounded by super talented people and just expected to keep producing top notch work with no really boost to what you’re doing.
4. Creating a professional portfolio
During my time at uni I created over 150 sketchbook, large canvases and other mix media items, did I had any idea what to put in my portfolio? no not really, and if I’m honest I didn’t use a single piece of art work created at uni in my professional portfolio I came away feeling like a failure and wanted to start a fresh.
5. How to make a living from your art work
This for me was my biggest disgruntle maybe it was just my uni course, but we were never directed in the way of exhibitions, contacting galleries and negotiating the art world. It was just never talked about, there were not functional style skills with the course I joined, I spoke to my illustration and graphic design house mates who had been given the low down and were offered work placements on their course.
Look back now to a decade ago when I first started my degree, I was naive I wanted to live by the sea, as far from London as I could get, I wasn’t looking to my future as an artist and in that respect it was my fault but often we don’t figure out our path until a lot later on through sheer hard work, determination, stubbornness and failure do we really know how to make being an artist work for us.
Now people will look at that list and go Ella really you should of just discovered those things yourself, should I of? if I am paying an institution who has told me I am good enough to gain a place on their course not give me something back? maybe things have changed and other peoples courses were better but I can only speak from my experience when at 16-18 we are told to make a choice that could effect the rest of our lives its tough to make an informed and right choice. But I have learned all these 5 things off the back of going to art school. I learned them in spite of my degree and even though I loved studying I was left with a very bitter sweet taste when I finally graduated with no support network when I came back to London three years of art school under my belt and this wide expanse facing me, you have to learn to navigate yourself.
Art school is what you make of it, it gave me three wonderful years of working alongside my best friend in a studio, it taught me what I didn’t want to be as an artist and it also taught me that the art world can be very cut throat but everything in life has its pros and cons. Just make sure that no matter what you do in life you work hard – thats really all that art school taught me.