art school

June 1, 2011

I'm glad I didn't go to art school. I've had my moments of rethinking my education, like we all do at some point. But I think art school may have been the death of creativity, for me anyway. The handful of classes that I have taken voluntarily over the past few years have, with the exception of one, been less like classes and more like…here are some fun materials, now go make stuff. And that was about the extent of the instruction. I actually thrive quite well in classes like this. Very loose guidelines, if any at all, just some new ideas about how to use a certain product. The exception to these classes was one that I have named "the class of death." In this particular class, the instructor was VERY hands-on. Like, never hands-off. She circulated around the room the entire time, stopping to peer over each student's shoulder (for what felt like an interminable length of time). After a long silence, she would give some very specific instructions about how to proceed so as to be sure to not "mess it up." Thank God this class was short-lived. Because I am prone to internalizing voices of authority, I can still hear echos of this lady's voice in my head. Aaah! She won't die. I am finding that I need to remind myself that how she instructed me to create is not me. Yes, I CAN create that way, but I don't want to.

So, given that this has been my reaction to various types of art instruction, I can say, rather confidently, that I am pretty sure art school would not have been the right path for me. I have the feeling it would have left me so bound up inside that I would not have been able to create at all. I would be that stifled. I think artists generally have a hard enough time as it is not getting stuck, being their own harshest critic, or feeling like the creative well has dried up. Adding a litany of rules and hierarchies of methods and forms does not feel like it would be helpful.

Of course, I feel like I have to add the disclaimer that some instruction is helpful and some people probably thrive quite well in the structure art school provides. I just don't think I'm one of those people. I have enough internalized structure to last me the rest of my life. The looser I can be when creating, the better the art outcome and the more enjoyable the process.

One comment on “art school”

  1. I've been thinking about photography school and if I had known if I would have gone when I was younger. Interesting to hear your thoughts on this!

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