General Question

eadinad's avatar

Should I go to art school?

Asked by eadinad (1278points) July 9th, 2007

I've been in art school for seven years, since the age of 12. Now I'm about to head off to an art college in the fall. But I"m feeling kind of burned out, especially after this past year, in which I was constantly harshly critiqued and criticized by my art teachers. (I know, it's what they're supposed to do, but still.) Frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm scared of never making money and not being good enough to make it in the field. Also, if I do go to art school, it will most likely mean being thousands of miles away from my very serious boyfriend.

Despite all that, I've never really wanted to do anything but art/design, and I have no idea where I'd go with my life if I drop out now. I've never planned on doing anything else and it seems equally scary to so drastically change my life plan. And objectively, I do know that I am good. I have my own weaknesses and strengths, like any artist, but I do have talent.

So what should I do?

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13 Answers

THiC's avatar

If you have the talent, use it to it's fullest. I've done artschool myself,I worried about getting a job in that direction. Other than becoming an art teacher in school, you really have to be "good" to make a living with it. It depends on what artform you follow though.

Classic art like painting and drawing = very hard to find a job/make a living.
Digital art, like designing, Desktop Publishing = much more easy to find work and the paycheck can be very good too.

I followed Classic art in school but am now in DTP classes - I still have the time and the education to enjoy myself painting, but I also have a good education to get bread on the table.

My conclusion: If you love what you're doing, keep doing it. If it's a passion - things like boyfriends (how serious the relation may be) should'nt stop you from doing it.

hossman's avatar

What do you plan on doing in the art field? I find it interesting THiC says "Other than becoming an art teacher in school, you really have to be "good" to make a living with it." Which suggests to me talent and a formal degree are separate skills which are necessary to separate career paths, much like in acting and music.

If you want to teach or enter the business side of art, a formal degree may be necessary. If you want to work selling your own art, having a degree could be completely irrelevant. In fact, I've found in acting that graduate school ruins some perfectly good actors.

I've also found it may be valuable to have your formal degree in something other than the field you love, which may not only qualify you work in the field you love, but also another field. As an example, an MBA combined with your love of art could suit you for a career in the business side of art.

mistermister's avatar

go for it.
knowing what you want to do in life is a rare thing, you should consider it a gift. i have both a bfa and an mfa in studio arts and i don't regret getting either of them. there are many ways to survive and thrive as an artist without teaching or being an art star. you have to think laterally, which you will learn to do in art school. pick up as many practical skills as you can along the way, learn a bit about web design, silkscreening, woodworking, video production, whatever your college offers--having even a bit of knowledge about those things will help you after school ends.
art school will hone your talent and it will give you the practical skills necessary to move forward. art school will teach you how to speak/write about your work, which if you want to thrive as a visual artist, is as important as knowing how to make the work.

nomtastic's avatar

also, maybe take up a non-art interest as well. learn to cook or go biking or something.

sarahsugs's avatar

Don't go yet. See if the art school will let you defer enrollment for a semester or a year. It sounds like you have very serious doubts and need a very substantial break. Burnout is not something, in my experience (though I am not an artist), to take lightly. A semester's or a year's break before enrolling in art school will give you a chance to do something different with your time, be with your boyfriend, and think deeply about what it would be like to go. It doesn't mean you would be turning your back on your ambition or your talent. It would mean acknowledging that there are other, equally important, priorities in your life besides your art education.

I took a break during my own education, partly because of burnout and partly because of a serious boyfriend who lived across the country, and it was one of the best things I ever did. It energized me and inspired me when I got back to school, and strengthened our relationship to be able to survive two more years of long distance (we are now engaged).

If your school will not let you defer, talk with someone you trust in the admissions department. Explain your situation (the burnout) and ask for his/her honest opinion of your chances of getting admitted a second time if you decide not to go this year and apply again for next year. Be sure to emphasize that their school is the right place for you, etc, but you are worried this is the wrong time, and by going now you might compromise your potential. The worst they can say is that you wouldn't get in again, in which case you might decide to go now, but at least you will have explored all your options.

Lastly, a slight tangent...I know that in some European countries taking a "year off" between high school and college is mandatory. People can choose between all kinds of community service jobs and projects to do during their year off, and then go to college with one year more of perspective, experience, and maturity, not to mention a long break from studying and academics. I always thought this was a brilliant system. Of course it may not be perfect for everyone, but if your gut is telling you to take a break, I would not ignore it.

nemezide's avatar

Take a year out. Travel, or work as a volunteer. You will come back wiser and calmer, and more focused.

Lot9's avatar

If i were you, I would take some time off. Instead, look into some of your other interests. Being "burnout" could hurt you in the present and future. Your grades would suffer severely and your physical and mental state could suffer as well.

Curiouser's avatar

Take a year off, but don't let any of the decisions you make during that time be affected by your boyfriend. You're young and have a lot of growing to do, and you need to do it on your own terms, even if that means parting ways with someone you care about a lot. That might sound like something a preachy old lady would say, but trust me, it's just sound advice. I'm 23, and both of those things could have spared me a lot of difficulty over the past few years.

flameboi's avatar

take a year off. Curioser is right, sounds right I mean, I'm 23 also, I had my year off, I worked and had the time to think about my career and focused on things I enjoy besides of going to work. I discovered the man I want to be before I reach 25, then 30, then 33, then 40. I mean, I had the time to set goals and that stuff. I realized that I really enjoy things I didn't contemplate before, like fashion design (that turned out to be a second choice for college), wine tasting, etc... also had all the time in the world to read all the books I ever wanted to read, not all, but close, and enjoyed the company of my friends and got to know them better, took days off of my own life during that period, like taking a plane and going for lunch in a different country... mmm, college is a huge step, you have to be sure about it, and also it will help to see how serious is your relationship, where that path will lead you in the near future... make a plan and stick to it, until you think is time to set a new plan to stick to it...

glial's avatar

I think that if you are an artist you are an artist. I am an web developer with a degree in business. The business degree didn't make me any more or less of developer, but if I were to change careers, for any reason, I would rather have my degree in something a little more marketable.

gatablanca's avatar

why don’t you try art galleries, I’m an artist and I know the critics don’t let noone get you down because everyones an artist and Picasso proved that with modern art cubanism.
Go to a local library where you can ask for an art membership, and they give you information where to take your art. When your accepted a jury of about 5 or 6 people judge your work and if your accepted they take your art and ask you how much you want to sell it for, say about $2000 you say and they put your art in display in some place like a restaurant or whatever for about 3 months. I don’t know if this is acceptable in the states but in Canada we can do this. Give it a try, and good luck with your art

ems's avatar

You might be burned out at your current school. A change of scenery, meeting new people, and having new instructors can be refreshing. THiC is right that a relationship shouldn’t stop you from furthering your education.

Also, it isn’t necessarily true that you have to be extremely talented to make it in the art/design world. You just have to be outgoing and motivated.

@gatablanca another reason why I am jealous of Canadians. I have never heard of library art memberships, but that program sounds awesome!

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

That year between high school and university is called a “Gap Year” in the UK.

It’s a year for students to just crash/relax and do volunteer work and/or travel. Basically, it is a year for an “outbreath” after years of intensive study without stopping. The gap year can also be used to do some hard thinking about one’s next step in life. I have no doubt that you are talented, but what I sense is that you are exhausted. I agree with others (above) that perhaps all you need is to defer your enrollment for another year. Take some time to just re-charge your batteries and you can return to art school feeling ready to take it on.

I don’t think it is doubts about your career that plague you…it’s just exhaustion from going non-stop for six years. If you are talented and creative, you will find an outlet for your art. You will find a way to make a living doing what you love to do.

Can your serious boyfriend also relocate to your college town? Or is he still in school, too? I am sure that this is also difficult for you….don’t nix college, okay? Don’t give up this opportunity. I say that college/university isn’t about grades and learning as much as it is about meeting all sorts of people with all sorts of points of view from everywhere. That’s the real education you get. You are pushed out of your comfort zone and you get to have adventures with interesting people. So, go to college…just think about waiting a bit, maybe? Having a gap year of your own?

Keep us posted….

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