The Dangers of Not Going to Art School

April 3, 2018

Wanting to go into a new, and very different, career is scary. Doing it without the clear guideposts and sense of forward momentum and guidance that college offers is occasionally terrifying.

I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. If I’m moving forward. If I’m delusional to think that I could become an illustrator just by teaching myself and putting junk online.

And teaching myself is HARD! I’m not literally teaching myself-there is an overwhelming array of online and in text resources available. That doesn’t always make it easier though.

Some of the risks of trying to teach myself I think about our:

  1. Without external deadlines I might never actually FINISH something. I have ambitious goals and timelines…and am very forgiving to myself.
  2. There’s no curriculum-how do I know what to work on?! Will I waste time on classes that offer no value or even teach me something incorrectly while I miss out on some important foundational lesson?
  3. It’s hard to get feedback-how will I know what to work on? Will I improve slowly/not at all?
  4. No classmates. I love my roommates and friends! But instead of working together with them on homework or discussing art lessons-I’m more often distracted from art by their amazing presence and willingness to go out for Mexican food.
  5. Self-doubt. When I was in college for education there was a clear path I knew I could follow and succeed at. With little struggle. (That might’ve been one reason I was there.) College courses also make everything seem more legitimate. I was definitely working towards a career in a way that is validated by society. Now I’m just doodling in my free time and trying to tell people I’m serious about it. (When I’m brave enough to bring it up.)

Some of the reasons I am not going to college for art despite all of that:

  1. MONEY
  2. An art degree is unnecessary for most illustration jobs….according to my research.
  3. Time
  4. Location. I really love my living situation right now and am sick of moving more than once a year.
  5. The many articles and videos online from artists that discuss how the learning you get in an art school is available in many other forms now for much cheaper.
  6. I would not be as in control of my own learning.
  7. If I don’t go to art school I can focus on my own projects and focii (focuses?) right away.

So yeah, I’m terrified sometimes. I think I’m deluding myself other times. I am overly negative currently because it is past my bedtime and I’m tired. But despite my fear and self doubt, I still believe in myself and am hopeful that I can learn and grow and create without needing a fancy degree and to spend hours every day in a classroom for four more years.

There are a few things I’m trying to focus on to counter-act all those risks I listed above:

  1. Making public goals and deadlines-between this blog, social media, and talking about what I’m working on with friends I hope to develop more accountability for finishing what I start.
  2. As far as curriculum-I’ve been collecting tons (too much) advice from artists on youtube and who blog. I plan on selecting a few that I trust the most, combining their advice, and building a clear plan for me to work towards. Which I’ve tried to do several times before without completing the list or following through with it. I plan to post about this more fully later on this month so I’ll let you know how it goes.
  3. I need feedback. Social media will be helpful with this, and you guys of course! I think the main source of feedback I’ll look for though will be in art feedback focused facebook groups. I already joined one months ago and haven’t been brave enough yet to submit my own work. Guess I have to do that now that I’ve mentioned it…so I guess I’ll see how it goes.
  4. Classmates-back to the internet again! If I don’t have a ready-made group of peers, I’ll have to go find them. Social media, blogging, online classes, etc. I’ll figure it out. And as far as trying not to get distracted by wonderful friends and FOMO, I’m already planning a whole blog post on that alone. So stay tuned.
  5. Self-doubt. Well that’ll be hard to combat. This blog and my social media will service as documentation of my progress (or lack thereof) and will hopeful encourage and motivate me when I need it. I also think completing projects I’ve been planning and not doing for ages will do me a world of good. And of course, my friends and family are very supportive, the more open and honest I am with them, the more they will encourage me. I’m lucky.

So there it is. My fears and solutions and problems and goals and anxiety. All bundled together in a late night post that I hope makes sense. It certaintly helped me feel better and more secure in the path I’m on, and I hope in encourages you as well to pursue whatever your dream is. Even if it feels silly or hard at times.

I believe in you.

Thanks for reading.

Let me know through a message or comment what you thought-I’d love to read it. <3