Whether you like it or not, deciding on going to an art school or not is primarily an economic decision. In terms of economics, there are several opportunity costs of going to art school. These does not only refer to financial aspect buy also about time and efforts that you will spend in pursuing an art course or art degree. It could mean years of studying and spending several thousands of dollars on tuition fees and other school-related expenses. The initial factors that you should consider when contemplating on a decision whether or not you are going to pursue an art education are the following:
1.) The school – You have three general options, namely, a stand-alone art school, a trade-type art school, a community college. Stand-alone art schools are a dime in a dozen and some are informal schools but there are many that have government recognitions. Some are well-known and have produced several successful artists in various fields. The main advantage of going to a stand-alone art school is the focus on the art instructions that you will get. General education subjects that are not relevant to the course you are pursuing are typically not included in the curriculum. The disadvantage of a stand-alone school is that you will only earn a certificate rather than a diploma for a degree.
A trade-type art school is similar to a stand-alone art school but the focus is more on skills and practical things. The main disadvantage is that you might not be able to have a more comprehensive art education.
Some community colleges may offer art courses and the tuitions are generally more affordable compared to a university. However, some of the required subjects may not be very relevant to your focus.
A university offers more comprehensive art courses and you can earn degrees but just like community colleges some subjects may not be relevant and practical. The tuition fees and other expenses are also more expensive. The main advantages are the prestige of the degree that you will earn and you will have a wider range of opportunities beyond art.
2.) The course – The course of a program that you will pursue will primarily depend on your talent and interests. It will also depend on the specific school where you are going to enroll. You may pursue visual arts such as painting or you may pursue graphic arts and concept arts. You may focus on storyboards, comic books or animations. It would be great if you could have a comprehensive education but it would take a lot of your resources such as time, money and effort. Hence, it is best to have one focus in order to achieve mastery and also to get optimal efficiency.
3.) Talent and passion – A handful of successful artists in the TV, film and video game industries do not have formal art education. What they have is pure talent and this talent is honed by their experience working. Most companies will not really care much about your degree or grades but you need to demonstrate your skills. Art schools could provide the necessary training and exposure that will hone your talent and skills. Again, it is advisable to focus on one particular field on which you have the talent and interest. You would find it easier to surpass challenges if you have the talent and passion.
4.) Networking opportunity – Formal education, experience, talent and passion are not sufficient to succeed in pursuing art as a career. You need to find networks of people who could help you along the way. They could be your teachers, classmates, coworkers and bosses. Going to a reputable art school could provide you the initial networking opportunity that you will need. Oftentimes, “whom you know” is more important than “what you know.” It would be easier for you to apply to a particular company if you have somebody in school who could recommend you to the job.
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