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Is an Art Education Worth the Investment?



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There are many good reasons for gaining an art education but is it vital for business success? Going to art school certainly isn’t cheap and bursaries are very competitive. Before applying for an art school, it is important to consider whether this investment is going to pay off both creatively and career wise.

 

Ranking sites such QS Top Universities share interesting statistics for the world's top art schools which can give you some insight to what you should consider when viewing your prospective art schools.

 

Always visit a campus and take a tour of the facilities before applying and make sure it reflects the brochure and marketing. Also become familiar with the surroundings if it will be in a new city or location that you are not familiar with. What suits one person may not be the right environment for you.


How to Choose the Right Art School


Obviously, we would all like to go to the number one art school in the world and get a bursary to cover all of our expenses and be catapulted into an amazing career with no debt. As everyone's art practice, financial situation and passport/location access is different, I have just focused on the more general key aspects of how to determine if an art school is right for you.   

 

Location - Art students from all over the world flock to art capitals such as New York, Berlin, Paris and London, in the hope of gaining a spot in prestigious art schools. This is because these cities have a thriving art scene: galleries, museums, buyers, art fairs, collectors, creative careers, plenty of inspiration and opportunities. All of these cities are very different culturally. When contemplating a location consider the culture shock that you may experience. Starting a new course is daunting enough but often the cultural adjustment is the biggest shock. Do your research to make sure you are able to get a visa, able to work if required, able to afford accommodation and general life expenses connected to this location.    

 

Reputation - Always research the reputation of an art school. You are not just attending a school in order to learn new techniques or you could just complete workshops. The reputation of a good school will forever be attached to your name and continue to offer currency. It will set you aside from others when applying for career opportunities, it will impact your network and this is where the investment into a good art school really pays off. Good art schools offer many direct opportunities and channel countless third-party partnerships through their email systems and notice boards: residencies, cultural exchanges, access to archives and interesting research sites, exhibitions, freelance jobs and creative career placements. 


Facilities - At this stage you likely will not know the direction your creative pursuits will go in. It is important to consider the facilities that will open creative doors for your practice. Check to see if the college has print rooms (litho, etching, screen printing etc.), photography and video studios (darkroom, digital suites), specialist sculpture facilities (metal, stone), wood workshops (for creating stretchers) and a well-stocked library.  

 

Professors - having knowledgeable professors and tutors with plenty of experience is an essential lifeline for guiding you towards your full potential as an artist. Look up the professors that will be teaching the course and do some research into their professional practice (if they are successful artists in their own right then they will have a wealth of useful advice). 

 

Technicians - Never forget the technicians. They are the ones that are often forgotten in the back rooms of an art school but they are the essential cogs that make everything happen and save your art when there is a disaster just before a show. They are the ones you have to build a strong relationship with and often have incredible knowledge worth gleaning. Make sure the facilities are well supported with talented and enthusiastic technicians.

 

Alumni - Finally, it is a good sign if the art school churns out successful alumni. You can look at leaderboards that often share the stats on the percentage of alumni that graduate into professions relevant to their degrees and the average income. This can be a good indicator to see if the investment will pay off financially. 


What Are the Benefits of Going to an Art School


There are many benefits of going to an art school but I can whittle the key ones down to the following:

 

●      Exposure

●      Support

●      Experimentation

●      Network building

●      Opportunities (Exhibitions, residencies, employment/freelance work)

●      Knowledge Building (technical, business knowhow, contextual understanding of your work)

 

There are many cases in which self-taught artists have become very successful, there is no one-way-in rule. It is important that you weigh-up what you want to gain from an art education and make sure that it is worth the investment of your time and money. 


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