Should i go to Art school? This was the general question in a recent email i received from a young artist. I always answer emails. If i am able to answer them as soon as i read them, i do. Sometimes the email requires a thought out response in which case it may take a few days for me to reply. In this case a young artist asked me "how far did i take my education?" And my stance on Art School. He also mentioned how bored he was with it and that he was contemplating dropping out.
After responding to him i felt the need to make this sort of a public 'Open Letter' to anyone who might be dealing with the same conflict. Here are my thoughts and opinions:
Thanks for the email man. The most rewarding part of this journey for me is being able to inspire people. To answer your question regarding education, i am a high school dropout (with a GED) i tried community college briefly but everything i learned art wise was self taught. I DO NOT RECOMMEND DROPPING OUT OF COLLEGE. My story involved felony convictions, heavy drug addiction and a lot of pain and misery. What i will recommend is not going to school for art, and ill explain why.
I owe most of my success as an artist to networking (being a good person) and being a good business man. Sure, i have developed as an artist and my work speaks for itself; But i know artists 10 times more talented that don't have a resume as good as mine. Business is something that i studied (on my own) a lot. 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' 'Crush It' 'The Tipping Point' these are some good books to start off with that relate to business in various ways. Now, you are an artist but the reason i say don't study art, is because you need an edge. The edge comes from combining your Art and creativity with other knowledge and skills. If you are passionate about Art, your art is going to develop with or without "art school". Go to museums, art shows, follow artists you look up to on social media, experiment, experiment, experiment, ...This is how you will grow as an artist. If you are anything like me this stuff wont feel like work. You're an artist. Doing art stuff is a given. Eventually you will mature as an artist and that will show in your work. Yes, there are many skills and techniques you can learn in Art school but these are things you will likely be motivated to learn along your own journey. (when you want to learn a new technique or adobe program, YouTube can teach you. trust me.)
Perhaps then you want to take your art to the next level but there are so many fish in the sea, YOU NEED AN EDGE! The edge can be anything it doesn't have to be business. I do think it should be seemingly unrelated to Art. Expanding your mind and learning about other things will HELP your art! You're an artist, Do you need someone to teach you how to be an artist? No. In my experience, Art school is a waste of time, and money. I've had many friends graduate art school to either work in cubicles on Photoshop all day (which is just as boring as anything trust me I've done it) or strait up wait tables because they cant find "jobs" OR SHOWS with a fine arts degree. A fine art gallery does not give a flying fuck if you have a fine arts degree. Maybe if you want an unpaid internship, but don't you want them to hang your art there instead? ..Don't drop out of college. Find your edge, work overtime on your Art work, and i think all the dots will connect for you in time!!
As for networking, my good friend and artist Mauro Martinez said "While formal education isn't important, community is! Artists throughout history have always thrived in the context of community. Bouncing ideas off each other and critiquing serves as a sort of "informal" education."