There are artists that were educated at some of the most prestigious art school in the world, of which it fills me green with envy. And then there are artists that are self-taught- basically they learned to draw and paint by copying from other artists or from do-it-yourself art books, or simply just following their own gut instincts. Now I come to believe there is no right or wrong way to become an artist. And there are perks and quirks to both methods described above. Let me tell you what I know.
If you were to go to a school to get educated in the field of arts, you would be presented with ample classes and courses to fill your curiosity and home your skills. And they would of course be taught by professors who are artists themselves. And to build a relationship with these pros as well as your fellow classmates allows you opportunities in and after school to make formidable connections, build your resume and portfolio and get your right foot in the doorway to the most coveted places in the galleries or museums or even corporate patronage. On the other hand, to be a Luddite and skipping the social scene of the classroom and setting out on your own could turn out to be a long, lonely, and difficult road, and you wouldn’t be enticed into studying stuff they teach in school (and you’d only take those courses because if you don’t you can’t graduate. That’s motivation enough). And as self taught artist you are limited by what you have; finding a decent space to work can be tough especially if you don’t have money. You’d have resort to working from your dads garage that’s already full of household junk, or at a small table in the corner of a noisy Starbucks, or, like sometimes I do, under the bridge of a dried up ravine where it reeks of mold and trash and human feces. Yep, my kind of place to work: after all art along is a dirty business. If you we to school there would be plenty of workspaces with all the equipments and resources provided, along with words of encouragement and advices from teachers and peers. You can’t really get any kind words from a squawking crane drinking off the puddle of water in the ravine.
On the contrary, going to school, especially if it’s a world-class history infused institution like England’s Royal Academy of the Arts or America’s majestic Harvard University, it take lots of money. Lots and lots of money. And those private art schools can cost you what it costs to buy a single-family house these days. You’d have to be born a Trump brood or win the ridiculous Powerball jackpot to afford a comfortable education in art making. I went to a public state u here in California, where the cost is considerably cheaper but their art program nevertheless decent. Luckily for selfies money is not a problem and they are worry free to explore, experiment, screw up, and create masterpieces. Another problem with school is you might end up with a really douchey professor who insist you follow his doctrines and make you get down on your knees and cry and feel utterly worthless. I remember a professor in the life painting class that scrutinize every nook and cranny of wrongs I was making on painting the right flesh tone and the perfect light and shadow palettes. And let’s not forget when you are in school before you can get into the fun part of painting and drawing you have to first learn the basics-color wheel, values, forms, lines, blah blah blah- something you probably already learned in hot grade school art sessions. Bottom line: boooring.
None of that matters for selfies, they get to dive in and have fun.
Of course I’m not discrediting a proper art education, it is important to know those boring stuff. But to get absorbed into the rules and academics becomes a stumbling block. I recall spending days and hours working with blood sweat and tears on a single painting trying to get the forms, values, and colors right as I learned it. After years of struggle with that I got tired of moving nowhere with the current situation and I said “**** this!” And I threw aside all the textbooks and started drawing purely from my gut. And boy I never felt so liberated.
Making art is about being yourself. It doesn’t matter what others say about it, what you draw or paint comes from your own heart. And that’s what make art so special.
So to school or not to school…its up to you.