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Galen Carter

April 27 2015
Brenna McKenna
Art School sucks

Many people are stuck in the rut of thinking that they need to get secondary education
in order to get the job they want, and for some jobs, college is a requirement. Art students
however, do not need to go to college to get the job they want. This leaves many artists
wondering whether or not they should go to school to get the job they want. Art school is both
a waste of time and money for aspiring artists because and may actually set artists back in their
careers because, art school trains you to be a jack of all trades, it costs too much money, it
stifles your creativity instead of nourishing it, it burns students out, and its methods will be
out-dated and irrelevant to your work.
Many art students leave art school feeling disappointed due to gap between what they
learned and what they actually need to know at their jobs. Schools don't have enough money
to have a separate teacher for every route a student may want to go. Unlike most careers, art
is an open ended field and even if students major in a specific thing like graphic design, what
exactly they will be doing can be very different from individual to individual. One might work in
the corporate world while another may do gallery work and they would need to learn quite
different things. Schools have to cover all of the options for that specific degree, and it leads to

a lot of skimming across topics instead of diving deep into them. For example, Chris Drydale
said that "because I have not followed a pure design path (product design, graphic design, etc),
most of what I learned in school has turned out to be useless" (Drydale 1). If what you learn in
school is useless why pay money to learn it? If you really want to learn something, there are
many other ways to go about learning it they will take time, but not nearly as much money.
Another student who is currently three years into art school says "I hate all the extra classes
I'm forced to take" (Kelsey 1). Instead of going to art school, artist should either work on
expanding their portfolio (if they know what type of work they want to do), or put some serious
thought into what it is exactly they want to do. When applying for an art related job, "You are
never going to need a diploma to get a job as an artist... The equivalent of your certificate is
your portfolio." ( Brunet). "That is why I ultimately quit art school, I felt like I was wasting my
time. You know, they were teaching me stuff that I knew I would never use. I was sitting in
class and learning stuff that, to me, was completely useless." (Brunet 2) So instead of working
toward an unnecessary educational step, artists should spend time and money building their
portfolio so they can look impressive when applying for a job. If artists don't know what
direction they want to take their art, spending a huge amount of money simply to find out what
they want to do doesn't make any sense either. Also, school probably won't help them find
their passion any better than they could on their own. School is designed to be very linear
meaning, if you follow the path set in front of you and do what you are told you will do well in
school, but following a path and doing what you are told is not an ideal way to explore and find
out what exactly it is you enjoy doing.

One of the more obvious reasons to not get an art degree is because art school is
expensive. Really expensive, "in fact, many art schools are among the most expensive colleges
in the U.S." (Henshaw 1) Tuition isn't the only thing that students must consider when looking
at art school, "students also have to consider the other fees theyll have to pay if they get into
one of these schools... students at Pratt Institute pay nearly $20,000 in fees ON TOP of their
tuition. Thats twice the cost of tuition at some state schools. With the cost of fees and tuition
combined, the average net cost of attending art school is $42,000. Its critical that students take
these additional fees into consideration when they think about how theyre going to finance an
art education." (Henshaw 2) Keep in mind that all this money is going toward something that is
totally unnecessary and the debt can cripple an artist's career before it even starts. Some
schools are so outrageously expensive that "by their own estimation, the cost of a four year
education at RISD is $245,816. As way of comparison, the cost of a diploma from Harvard Law
School is a mere $236,100."
Artists need to be creative, original, fresh, and most importantly, willing and wanting to
break rules. This directly opposes school, which teaches you that you need to follow a specific
path, do what you are told, and learn what they tell you to without questioning it. Also "A
school or university in this day and age basically serves to enforce discipline on people who
can't discipline themselves to study." (Lanoo 1) This means that you can learn everything you
need and more, without going to school, for free. In order to learn a particular skill, like the one
you will need for a career in art, focusing on that skill is the only way to really improve. Being a
jack of all trades and a master of none will not serve you in art. Also, putting so much effort
into irrelevant things can burn an artist out and make them question if they really want to

pursue this career. Because students need to spend so much time doing things unrelated to
their job, it can burn out the most motivated of artists. One might even go so far as to say our
whole education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a
particular commodity. And for the future, it won't serve us. We have to rethink the
fundamental principles on which we're educating our children." (Robinson 8) The people that
will make the best artists are people who are extremely self motivated and determined. They
want to put as much effort into their work as possible and make it the best they can. These
people will not thrive in a school scenario where their focus is forced to be distributed among
many different topics. The lack of focus will probably frustrate them. Schools have very set
paths that students go through in order to achieve their degree.
It is unnecessary to go to school to work in art. Noah Bradley who has graduated from
art school with a batchelors degree and works as an artist says "You dont have to go to college
to be an artist. Not once have I needed my diploma to get a job. Nobody cares. The education is
all that matters. The work that you produce should be your sole concern." Many people say
that you shouldn't close doors in life and they bring it up especially often when talking about
school. In the case of going or not going to school for art, keeping one door open always closes
another. So losing out on the experience of school will give a student experiences in other
things. He also said that "Sitting at a computer I have direct access to artists all over the world.
I have the combined wisdom of the artistic community to pull from at my leisure. For less than
a few grand a year I can view more educational material than I would see at any art school. You
can get a year of access to all of the Gnomon Workshops videos for the cost of a few days at
the average art school." And this is coming from a person who graduated from art school.

Many students want to go to art school to get criticism and feedback on their art. This is a good
reason and is a necessary part of becoming an artist but school is not the only way to get
feedback and be part of a community. There are many online forums that can be used that
allow your work to be seen by even more people than a school would. Also those people would
come from an extremely large variety of backgrounds. An artist can post something to a
website such as which "is an online art community for artists and art lovers to
interact in a variety of ways, ranging from the submission of art to conversations on a number
of topics." (Deviant 1)
Schools have been stripping the artists out of you sense you started preschool. Why
would you let them continue doing it? Ken Robinson explained this well when he said "Our
education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there's a reason. Around
the world, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century. They all
came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. So the hierarchy is rooted on two
ideas. Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably
steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the
grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don't do music, you're not
going to be a musician; don't do art, you won't be an artist." (Robinson 4) Why continue down
a path that discourages you from doing what you want? Even art schools still follow the same
rigorous outlines the strip creativity from people.
In conclusion, art school is a bad idea because it costs too much money, and can even
ruin an artist career. The debt can be insurmountable. If the artist knows what they want to do

a lot of time will be wasted on topic that won't help them get the job they want, and it won't
help them once they get the job they want. It isn't necessary, so why spend all that money?
Artists are going to have to take things into their own hands sooner or later so they might as
well start doing that sooner to learn faster.

Robinson, Ken. "Ken Robinson: How Schools Kill Creativity." TED, 13 June 2006. Web. 28
Apr. 2015.

Drysdale, Chris. "Why Art School Sucks." Deviant Art. Deviant Art, 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Apr.
2015. <>.

Kelsey, Megan. "Why Art School Sucks." Deviant Art. Deviant Art, 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Apr.
2015. <>.

Henshaw, Ashley. "How Much Does Art School Cost?" Campus Explorer. Campus Explorer. Web.
27 Apr. 2015. <>.

Bradly, Noah. "Don't Go To Art School." I.M.H.O. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.