What to Expect at Art School: As Told by a SCADdie
Choosing to go to art school is a monumental decision for many young adults graduating from high school. It is the “abnormal” career path, it’s expensive, and it is a full time commitment. For many of us, however, going to art school was the only path we could see ourselves taking. At SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design) I expected to learn how to be a successful artist and how to get a job. I did learn both of these things, but not in the way that I had initially anticipated.
In order to really suck the most marrow out of the art school experience, one has to go in with the right expectations. By this, I mean understanding three key points.
First, software and hardware can be taught to anybody, anywhere, any time, thanks to the internet. Mastering a program does not make you a great artist. What can set you apart are ambition, diligence, and creativity. You have to want it more than anything and stop at nothing to get it. You have to be persistent when trying to obtain it, despite the roadblocks. And you have to have good ideas. Your ideas, originality, and aptitude will make people want to hire you.
Second, experimentation is king. School is the time to go crazy with solving your own artistic problems. What styles do you like, where do you fit in a pipeline, do you even want to work in a pipeline? 2D or 3D? The list goes on. A professor once told me, “Don’t think like a line cook, think like a chef,” and I still find that very applicable. Find your own voice as an artist while there is no pressure, and suddenly your work will become that much more meaningful.
Lastly, the relationships you make at school are more important than any piece of art you create. While there is a lot of emphasis put on the “senior film” at SCAD, the emphasis should really be shifted over to professional working relationships and personability. The friends you make at school, the professors you hit it off with, those are going to be the people that call you later down the road saying, “Hey, there is this opening you’d be perfect for.”
At the end of the day, art school isn’t for everybody. You can’t belazy, you can’t expect an opportunity to just fall into your lap, because somebody will snatch it up before you do if you aren’t gunning for it. That being said, going to SCAD gave me the confidence to get where I am today and was the perfect fit for my career path.