Should you go to art school?
Art school is not a requirement for becoming a professional artist and selling your art.
I recently wrote about picking an animation school. Based on my experience from getting a BFA in Character Animation from the Disney founded college, CalArts.
But what if you want to just be a painter and sell art online.
Do you have to go to art school and get a degree then?
Quick answer, no.
Long answer, you still have to find training and someone with experience in your medium to give you critical input on your art.
Do you need to go to art school?
If you dig down deeper, really what a lot of people are asking is if you need the degree. The answer is no. But you need to learn the skills and fundamentals.
It also depends on what type of person you are.
If you're the type of person who is strict about drawing and painting every day. You seriously dedicate hours every day to your craft and know how to find the right training to help you progress in your medium of choice. Then you're well on your way to becoming a successful artist without a degree from an art school.
If you find yourself procrastinating and going for long periods of time without drawing and painting, then going through a formal program may force you to avoid procrastination. But probably isn't worth the cost. There are other options like ateliers and in-person workshops you'll have to find to get the over-the-shoulder guidance.
Going through a formal program also exposes you to things you didn't know about. Maybe a new medium, style, or way of making art. Or even suggestions on new classes and teachers to learn from.
Essentially, an art school degree isn't a requirement.
But seeking out training in traditional art fundamentals in your medium of choice is.
You can get training in the basics in a variety of ways. From online courses from individual artists, local community college, and private workshops or ateliers.
Art school doesn't have it all
Not all art schools are perfect.
The environment of an art school can help give you focus. Which otherwise, self-teaching can be overwhelming all on your own.
Also, online learning also doesn’t provide the same level of contacts and networks.
But your choice largely depends on you as an individual. Specifically, your learning style.
Remember, there are countless successful artists who are self-taught. No one is not going to buy your drawings or paintings because you don't have an art degree.
Self-teaching, community colleges, art ateliers, in-person workshops, and hours practicing can be a part of your journey of becoming an artist.
The cost can be a factor
A major one is the cost of art school.
In the US, an art school degree can cost over $30,000+ per year. Which means shelling out $100,000 for an art degree. With no guarantee of making a living from selling your art after graduation.
I’m glad I went to animation school. But if I had to do it again, and go into deep debt as a result, I probably wouldn’t.
Some of my best art education was during the three years I spend studying art basics at community college. A community college is cheaper. A community college is an easy way to explore many different types of art and mediums. And be around like-minded people in a niche community.
Ultimately, giving you a more affordable, well-rounded education.
Because of community college, you're saving money at the beginning of your traditional art education. Giving you more money to travel to workshops, conventions, or to take online courses.
Crafting your own art basics training enables you to learn exactly the kind of art education you want. Without having to take classes for things you don't want to learn.
You can learn at your own pace. Even while working another job on the side.
Having that critical someone and crafting your own art education
If you choose to craft your own art education.
You really need to find a mentor or someone to be honest and critical with your work. You need someone to tell you when something isn't working and how to specifically improve.
You can find someone online to do this. Any in-person training will have this element built-in.
Not only do you need this critical someone – you need them on a regular basis.
I recommend finding courses from artists online who perhaps offer one-on-one feedback on a weekly or monthly basis. Especially when you're just starting out with the fundamentals of drawing and painting.
If you're seeking classes and courses from artists who have specific experiences or skills, you can find them online.
To me, an art school degree vs. every other path is not the question. The question is: What helps you improve your art?
In general, you can create your own art curriculum. Seek out the best teachers online or offline. Grow from their insights with applied hours of thoughtful practice.