10 Reasons You Should Go to Art School

By Alethea Gerardot on June 30, 2020

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There are many creative types that want to make money with their artistic skills. If you enjoy art, then a career in fine art, painting, illustration, graphic design, web design, sculpture, animation, and photography are just a few of the careers you could pursue. While at first, it might not seem like you need a degree in art, going to art school will give you the challenges, practice, and professionalism you need to make it in a career as an artist.

These are 10 reasons you should go to art school.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Of course, you can certainly practice on your own time, and you probably have for years. If you love art, then you might do it a lot. But, how often do you have to take on a project that pushes you out of your comfort zone? And how many projects have you spent more than 20 or 50 hours on? Projects can be grueling, but the effort is worth it in the end. When you go to art school, you face the kind of practice that hones professional skills. This is nothing to write off and you will improve immensely during your time as an art student.

2. New Mediums and Methods

You may think you have a style, but how many styles, mediums, and subjects have you actually tried? Did you know that before Picasso was a famous abstract artist swapping around body parts, he was drawing highly detailed portraits and characters? His style was no accident or whim.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso

Not only will you try out mediums and styles you haven’t done, but you will also learn the rules, structures, principles, and elements of great art. You will learn about art history. And then you will be in a place where you are more informed about what rules you are breaking to make your own space in the world.

3. Access to Equipment

From the darkroom to printing presses, woodshops, and firing kilns, there are a number of things you will get to experience at an art school that you might not get to have on your own. With online art programs, you will likely have access to the software at student prices that you wouldn’t purchase on your own. You may find out about tools you never heard of from professors who are experienced in the field and up-to-date on the latest releases. And, even things you aren’t given by the school (like a laptop, new pencils or paints) may be on your supply list. So, you may get access to new equipment because the school expects you to get them for your classes.

4. Experiencing Critique

You might think you can handle criticism of your work, but how would you feel about a roomful of people pointing out flaws, typos, or things that would improve your work? It can be difficult to take constructive criticism, but with practice, art critiques become a valuable asset for an artist. Art schools tend to have long critique sessions for projects so that everyone can learn and improve as a class. And this is going to be incredibly helpful when you are dealing with clients. The practice now of realizing that your art could be improved will help when a buyer, benefactor, boss, or client isn’t over the moon with your latest work. Instead of feeling insulted, you will see the value of improvement and keep pushing to better your art.

5. Professional Experience

Art school is a great place to get jobs for amateur artists and internships. Often, community members will bring their art projects to an art school to see if there are students willing to do it for a lower price than a seasoned professional. This means the experience for you and more work for your portfolio (or lines on your resume)! A lot of art schools will require their students to complete an internship at some point, pushing you to dip your toes into the professional art world.

6. Professional Exposure

Most art schools will hold art shows, guest lectures, and gallery openings. Incoming artists will rub shoulders with the students and help teach them more about the art world. In student art shows, you will get to hang your own work and could catch the eye of the alumni, art buyers, and professionals who attend the opening. You could meet future clients, bosses, and mentors at school galas and events.

7. A Finished Portfolio and Resume

Usually, for a part of the senior year, you will spend at least one project honing your portfolio and resume. You will have art professors as mentors, helping you craft a professional approach to the art world. If you are interested in being a fine artist, this may take the shape of building a website or crafting brochures or business cards. Your art professors will help you prepare for your next step towards a career by teaching you interview skills or expectations in the art world.

8. Participating in a Community

You build relationships at art school that goes past the months and years you spend together. Art classes of long critiques and even longer project hours will help you form bonds. You will be surrounded by people just as dedicated to their art as you are. And when you are later looking for connections, clients and recommendations, that community can be very important. These bonds formed will be ones that last for a long time. And you will grow because of the relationships you form with students who are learning alongside you.

9. Structured Curriculum

What might take you years to learn on your own will be dramatically cut down into weeks. If you have ever tried to learn a complicated program, like Photoshop, then you know the value of a good online video tutorial. But when a seasoned professional is walking you through steps and helping you along the way, it is even better. Professors push you to learn new materials and new software faster than you would likely do on your own (extra points if you are a quick learner and go faster than the class). Plus, those professors will give you bigger projects than you would tinker with on your own and expect them back with a fairly quick turnaround—just like most real clients.

10. Your Ability to Communicate

Art school pushes you to explain yourself and your art—not something most artists are naturally comfortable with. Art school teaches you when to communicate and gives you a lot of practice doing it! Many schools will expect you to have written explanations for your projects and give presentations to the class before critique. You will get over any hang-ups with time and you will learn an incredibly valuable skill of written and verbal communication as an art professional. This doesn’t mean you will change from an introvert to an extrovert. This isn’t a promise you will like communicating, but just that you will get good at it.

The benefits of art school are important to make you a better professional. Some jobs will require a degree, though not all. But nearly everyone in the field—client and boss alike—will respect a degree from a good art school Check out the different types of portfolio schools, art schools, and colleges to understand which degree and program are right for you.