What do you regret about not going to art school?
October 27, 2011 8:28 PM   Subscribe

People who decided against art school because they have many other interests: what did you regret?

I love to make stuff. I always have. This stuff can be photographs, electrical circuits, sculptures, writing, or design (amongst other things).

I am currently a high school senior with the rather confusing task of choosing a college.
I have found myself choosing between art school and liberal arts college and I was wondering if there were any other MeFites who were once in the position I am in that chose liberal arts instead of art school.

Did you feel like you missed out on something?
Am I right to think that either way I'm going to have to make some sacrifices?
posted by ooklala to Education (22 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
What's your ultimate goal? To be self employed? To have a successful gallery? To work in a particular industry?

Art School = fine-tuned skills
Liberal Arts = well-rounded knowledge with which to supplement art

I chose Liberal Arts and enjoyed it, but I wish I had gone to Art School and just taken liberal-artsian classes at a community college.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:40 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I went liberal arts ('09), despite my love of art. I regret not going to art school. First, there will be no other time in your life when you have 4 years to dedicate to creating things and being around creative people. Nothing in a liberal arts syllabus is out of reach for a layman with a library, but art school facilities are an irreplacable opportunity. You absolutely need the liberal arts as a basis for and inspiration for your art, but it does not need to be your focus. Read everything you can get your hands on - that will be enough.

I also think that the employment stereotypes against art school graduates are far less of an issue now. There are a lot of creative industries that are happy to take on new talent. Art school graduates develop the ability to take a project from unrealized dream to execution, and that skill is important. Doing term papers the night before (or even in advance) is not something which emphasizes that ability. Liberal arts, at least in the less motivated, more average population cohort, can be very aimless and uninspired.

That said, it depends on which art schools and which liberal art schools we're talking about, and there are programs where you can incorporate elements of both.
posted by decathexis at 8:44 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I decided to go to a liberal arts school instead of an art school because of the cost. I think the best thing that resulted other than graduating withou debt, was that I was exposed to other fields. I ended up quitting art and pursuing a career path that has made me way happier than art ever did.
My friends that went to art school had more of a closed loop experience. Art was their entire world and while some of them stuck it out longer than I did, they eventually faced the same decision I did and didn't have anything that they saw as an equally valid option.
posted by teleri025 at 8:45 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well, you can major or minor in art at a liberal arts school. Lots of liberal arts schools have good art departments. Wouldn't that kind of be the best of both worlds?
posted by bearette at 8:47 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I applied to art schools, music schools, and liberal arts colleges. I ended up at a liberal arts college, but a very "non-traditional" one, where we designed our own majors. More than half my classes were in the production of art, and my final year was devoted to one big show. So it's possible at some schools to turn a liberal arts education into an arts school-esqe experience, and still graduate with a BA (not that it really matters these days).
posted by 2ghouls at 8:51 PM on October 27, 2011

I didn't go to art school like I always thought I would, and although I'm happy with the way things turned out -- writing was an almost-equal love to art, and I'm an author now -- I definitely had/have regrets. The thing is, it's much easier to procrastinate artmaking when it's not part of your curriculum or career; and the more time that passes, the harder it is to pick up a pencil or brush. I found as I moved further into adulthood, I lost the ability to make art for art's sake, in the joyous, carefree way I used to as a kid and teen. I'm more aware of how much time and effort it would take to be as good as I'd want to be, and mourn all those years I didn't make art, in a way that physically aches when I think about it too much. But instead of driving me to create, it paralyzes me even more.

Interestingly (I hope) all the above is an important plotline in my second book for teens: a girl who self-sabotaged her chance to attend art school and is attempting to rediscover her art, via travel. AND! I illustrated the novel as well -- after drawing very sporadically for years, the opportunity finally inspired me to draw my ass off. However, in the months since the art was finalized, I've been back to my old sketchbook-avoiding games.

I guess this is to say: if you have artistic talent and it brings you joy, don't let it go, no matter what school you attend. Not even for a little while. If you set it aside, you just can't predict how hard it'll be to pick it up again.
posted by changeling at 9:08 PM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was in the same position as you as a senior, except with music (though I always loved making pretty much all the same stuff you have, with the exception of electrical circuits). Wasn't sure if I wanted to go to a conservatory or a liberal arts college with a good music program. I chose the liberal arts college and was able to major in something that would teach me a new skill while also being able to study music on a level that kept me challenged. I was a double major. I do not regret my decision to not attend a conservatory, and in the years since I've been out of college I continue to use the non-musical skills I learned at school as well as still being a musician. I do not feel like I made any sacrifices in choosing this.

I wanted to have a good chance at getting a solid, decent paying day job while having time to focus on music outside of work. I didn't want to be an opera singer, and I didn't want to have to write music I wasn't interested in to make a living. Basically, I didn't want music to be my job, although I did like the idea of people paying me to make exactly the music I wanted to make.

I think it really depends on what you want to do after college, if you have even a vague idea of whether or not you feel you want creating art to be your job.
posted by wondermouse at 9:30 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about not going to school at all? You really don't have to.

I went to music school despite a) not being ready for it and b)it not really being right for me. I've always regretted it to some degree.

You really don't need to go to college right now and incur debt to make stuff. You could seriously move to NY (or Detroit or Austin or xyz cool city) and work a crappy or not so crappy job and stay up late and make stuff. You could find someone cool who does what you want to do and either apprentice to them or work for them.

I can tell you one thing: coming out of school with >$50k in debt is really tough on your creativity.
posted by sully75 at 9:45 PM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

I was lucky enough to do both - I was officially a student at an amazing liberal arts college that had full reciprocal privileges with the nearby very prestigious art school, meaning you could - if you wanted - take the majority of your classes at the other institution and still get credit at your own school, which I did for much of my sophomore and junior year. What I ultimately realized was that the art school was a technical school - students were there to hone a craft and get really really good at it in preparation for a career in the very difficult world of making art. And that if I wasn't going to have a career as an artist (and specifically in that medium, as art schools are often very specialized), I was better off with my time at the liberal arts school, where I learned to think critically and how to be a smarter and better consumer of art of all kinds, which then made me a better artist. Happy to talk more about this with you if you want to MeMail me. Good luck! There's no wrong choice here - just multiple paths to becoming the person you want to be in all of the various facets of your talents.
posted by judith at 10:02 PM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Art School Loser, I mean, Graduate here.

If you're not dead serious on being artist, don't go to Art School. Also know that Art doesn't support a living for the 99.9% of people who go to art school and 66% of all art school graduates NEVER make art, after going to art school. The book to pick up is Art & Fear - most likely, you're be ask to read it in Art School, anyways.

My best friend in college and I would wonder aloud, sometimes, if our (magically, non-student load tied) money would be better spent, by just renting out an art studio and making ourselves go there full time, for 4 years. Would we be better artists?

At least in my school and my department (Fine Arts), the amount of time I was taught techniques was minimal (after the fundamental courses, drawing |/||, 3d design, etc) - maybe one class, appropriately called, Materials and Techniques. I supplemented this while in school with electives to Illustration courses. In my experience, NOTHING you learn in art school, can't be learn outside, since most of what I learned to do was *self taught*.

Learning to paint and draw is not why you go to art school. There's a little theory - again, pick up an art theory book. This is why go to art school:

(1. There's no where else in the world, where you can go and people are forced to look at your work and talk about it. Only in Art School. Giving and taking a critique is a good skill to have and outside of it, it's devastatingly hard to get one. Believe me. No one will give a shit about who you are and what you do, unless they can make some money off of it. That's a gallery owner and if you don't know them already, they rarely really want to know you. They're busy attempting to stay afloat in 2011.

(2. There's little excuse to really take that much time out of your life, while you're young to *make art* with no real reason to do so - no goal, except the made up goal of, "graduating". Again, the degree ain't worth anything, by itself. It's a damn good excuse to just do it, while giving everyone in your life a sign that you're not totally crazy and wasting 10's of thousands of dollars on a degree that's not worth that much money.

(3. Connections. There's no where else where you can (hopefully) meet so many other artists (your peers and more established people), so many art dealers, gallery owners, museum curators, etc at the same time, who almost *almost* want to meet you. You'll get to see them talk, they'll give you scathing critiques, they'll give you inside tours and maybe *maybe* they'll be happy to check out your portfolio.

#3 is why you *really really really* go to art school. If it's a good school, they'll teach you how to hustle your work to these other people. Who knows if art galleries are going away - but look: as a Nobody, you need to sell your work to Somebodies. Somebodies that have enough money to throw out completely useless things, perhaps only around for aesthetically reasons. That, in itself, is a full time job. If you don't want gallery representation, you're going to have do that yourself.

And that's Art School for Fine Artists.

If you're not interested in learning to give a scathing critique, take a scathing critique, hustle yourself to the people you'll eventually slave to (because if you don't, you don't make any money on your art, period). don't go to art school.

Just make Art.
posted by alex_skazat at 10:25 PM on October 27, 2011 [8 favorites]

Why don't you go to a big, good state school where you'll have options. You might change your mind once you get there. Electrical circuits - maybe you'll find yourself veering towards electrical engineering or computer science, or landing half-way between art and those things. New Media.
posted by victory_laser at 10:49 PM on October 27, 2011

i didn't go to art school. but after school i worked as an artist for five years before deciding i wanted to do it myself instead of professionally, because honestly, the kind of stuff you have to do professionally to make enough to support yourself is pretty boring and soul sucking and will kill your love for it. the education i got getting a BA at a good university has supported my move into a better career for me and i've been able to shift doing art and creative work back to being for myself and am happier for it. no regrets.
posted by raw sugar at 10:56 PM on October 27, 2011

I decided between art school and an education in music by figuring which of the two I'd miss most in my daily routines, if I decided to do the other.
I chose music and despite a continuously unimpressive financial outcome, I have not had much to regret. I took half a year of an out-time just after concluding my studies and drew a children's book (which, I find now, is cute in its way; but it was never published), but haven't been doing much of that type of thing ever since, besides the odd Christmas card or poster for family members, and I can't say that I hugely miss never having developed my art skills beyond what I accumulated in my frantic teens.

Then there's my daughter, who (upon my recommendation) began in a liberal arts program, did well, but wasn't happy.
She changed to art school after a year, and does magnificently there. Apart from financial matters that involve study loan policies in Holland where she is, that course of action was exactly right for her: she now knows that an academic study is not the thing that makes her most happy, so there's no second-guessing of what she does now.
posted by Namlit at 2:32 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am confused by this question. I am aware of no liberal arts colleges where you cannot take copious art history, theory and studio classes and fill your days outside of the core curriculum making art. Since I went to a really wide variety of liberal arts colleges on my extended Seven Year Plan, I cannot imagine that careful selection of the liberal arts college you attend will give you a compromise that will make you happy. This also isn't really an either or choice; my sister got her standard liberal arts BA (majoring in Visual Arts) at Occidental and went to Art Center for her MFA in Painting.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:52 AM on October 28, 2011

I am a recent graduate of Art School. I have both an undergraduate and graduate degree in Sculpture. I went to two big state schools and in my opinion, it's better than going to full blown Art School (read: SAIC, Yale, RISD). Don't get me wrong; I would have LOVED to have been able to go to any of those three schools, but the cost is outrageous and there is no guarantee that you'll be an Artist after you graduate. State schools have a lot more money and financial options to give; specialized private art schools don't help out as much, if at all. If you are serious about art and want to sink the cost into a top tier art school, then by all means do so. I supplemented my degrees with liberal arts-y things and I consider myself a well-rounded person that got a lot out of both schools.

As for critique, it's a valuable skill to have, but it is most certainly a bitch to go through. In no other profession do you literally bare your soul to a group of strangers and let them tear you down and thank them for it. It's mentally exhausting defending your rationale for making something the way you make something, but if you believe in what you're doing, you'll be alright. Sure, there were times in Art School that I wanted to drop out (especially in grad school) because it was so arduous.

Think about it this way: can you imagine the rest of your life without doing something creative? Without fiddling with materials or sketching mindlessly? I couldn't. While I am not currently employed as an artist, I have a handful of shows coming up in the midwest and I have a real job to pay the bills. It's not a bad life. You have to work at it though.

And like others have said upthread, you can major or minor in art at a liberal arts school. Lots of schools have top notch programs.

Feel free to PM me if you want to ask more specific questions. Best of luck to you!
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:04 AM on October 28, 2011

As a senior in high school, I was in an intensive, two-hour-a-day art class where the final exam was an independently-judged gallery show. Of the people in my class, probably 75% of them could have done very well in art school, and many of them went. I chose not to.

For me, it was because I knew I didn't know what I wanted to do. It could have been art, but it also could have been any number of other things, and I just wasn't prepared to choose ONE THING at 18 years old. Because you can go to a liberal arts school and gravitate towards art classes, but you can't go to art school and decide to study science- not without transferring.

I wound up satisfying my creative impulses by doing sets and props for a theater club, and graphic design for a student-run magazine. I could have double-majored in art, but I was too in love with the OTHER two majors I'd chosen- anthropology and journalism- which I had never even considered studying before I went to college and took intro classes in them. I'm so glad I found both of those things. I don't know who I'd be if I hadn't.

A friend of mine, a graduate of the same high school art program as me, went to my college and doubled in art and biology. She's a brilliant, productive artist today, despite not 'going to art school,' and she's certainly more well-rounded than if she had.

My one regret is this: in high school, I made SO MUCH art. I had to fill sketchbook pages every day for class, we had assignments due every two or three weeks, we had to research artists constantly, etc. After I left that class, I stopped practicing. Now my drawing ability is far, far worse than when I was in high school. I really wish I'd kept it up, just for my own personal satisfaction.

So, I'd say: go to a liberal arts school, but keep practicing art anyway or you'll lose it. (And remember- you could choose to study graphic design, or theater design, or digital imaging- there are LOTS of options beyond just art classes!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:33 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

The question as stated is "Art School or Not Art School".

Second-guessing the poster is bad practice, so just to be clear, you do need to make that choice. But you might be making it prematurely. There are some others that I think you should make first.

It might be better for you assessed and compared all (or just a reasonable amount) of the available options for art education. Off the top of my head:
  • Don't matriculate, just take the classes you want
  • Hire a tutor
  • Seek out a master/apprentice sort of relationship
  • Volunteer work: lots of indie webcomic writers 'n stuff who are willing to accept amateurish art, and you can improve over time
  • Independent study from a collection of HOWTO books
  • Just draw a bunch of crap in all your free time until you get better
I'm not recommending any of these. Lots of people really do need the formal and social structure of a school in order to learn any really difficult skill. But the one thing I regret most from my own senior year is failing to consider my options.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:54 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was all set to go to one of the above-mentioned full blown Art Schools, but at the last minute it was decided that it was too expensive and I ended up at a state school instead. I still majored in art, and actually, I think the program was pretty good. But the most valuable thing was that I was able to take electives in lots of other subjects, and eventually it dawned on me that I liked the Other Subjects better and I was wishing I'd done one of them instead of art. (I was too close to the end by then to change my major to something totally outside the arts, but I did take some extra electives to set myself up to possibly get into a graduate program in a different field.)

I did finish my art degree, but when I continued on for graduate education I switched to one of the Other Subjects I'd had the chance experience as an elective at my school. I don't regret having gotten the degree in art, but my situation is a little different in that:
1- I don't think I ever fully bought into wanting to be a professional, for-life artist
2- I already had some backup plans formed in my mind, so when I was ready to bail on the arts I knew what my next move was.

Like you, I liked to Make Stuff and do things with my hands. In the end, art wasn't it for me, but it was such a huge part of my life up until then that if I hadn't at least tried I'm sure I always would have wondered "what if"? I often think about how ridiculous it seems to me that we're expected to pick a career path at 18- I don't know about everyone else but I had no idea what I wanted to do at 18. Part of this is because at that age I had very little idea what different careers actually looked like. As I gained exposure to this in college, I started changing my mind more and more about what I thought I wanted to do.

What I'm basically getting at is that I think it's better to be in an environment where you have the option to change your mind or your path if you decide to. At the time I wondered what was wrong with me that I couldn't stick to one major, but now I see (and am glad) that what I was really doing was weeding out the things I thought I wanted to do, but turned out not to like. I changed my mind several times, first within the arts, and then gradually I moved away from the arts completely after undergrad. I really don't think I could have followed the same trajectory if I had started at Big Art School.

But it's important for me to point out that I did love being an art student! It's unlike anything else and I still look back fondly on it all the time. It was a lot of fun . . . For the first few years, anyway, until I had to start facing the reality of career possibilities and how dismal the outlook seemed. In order to be a successful artist, you have to be not only talented, but you must promote yourself and be confident and flexible in the face of relentless criticism. I knew that wasn't for me. It's not for lots of people. If I were to say half the people I was close to in my art program are doing art related jobs now, 5 years after graduation, that'd be a generous estimate. The ones who are still doing it are good artists, yes- definitely in the top quarter of my classes as far as talent goes- but I think, more importantly, they have the personalities for it. I recently saw another of my old classmates who was ridiculously talented, but socially inept, and he was going on and on about how he couldn't believe his parents "let him" get a degree in painting because it was so useless. It is what you make of it- if you also happen to be lucky.

I really don't buy that you NEED to go to an arts-only school to be a great artist. The idea that you'll only get the experience of being surrounded by other artists at a real Art School is false. If you're an art major at any reasonably-sized school*, you'll be surrounded by other artists CONSTANTLY. (especially if there's an arts dorm, which i lived in and totally loved). the only time you get away from them is during your electives, so, not a huge chunk of your time. If you're anything like me, and it sounds like you are, getting away from the art-faces for a few hours a week for a history or science class is actually really nice.

tl;dr: if you want to be an art major, you don't need to go to Art School, especially because it does sound like you have other possible interests. Go to a liberal arts school, or a huge cheap state university, with a strong art program, major in art, but take electives in ANYTHING you are interested in. Then, just listen to your gut and don't be afraid to change your mind. You may regret not trying something, but I don't think you'll regret having tried something and deciding "it's not for me, time to try the next plan."

(oh, and it was a lot cheaper than going to Art School would have been. Which I didn't care about back then, but I am endlessly grateful for now. Also, the concept of being 'well-rounded' may sound kind of woo-woo to you right now but I guarantee it's a real thing and I do feel more 'well rounded' than people who I meet now who went to Art School. And it's a valuable thing.)

* i went to a university of about 20K students, so the art student population was pretty big. Maybe not the case at a very small school. Constant mind-changing seems to work better at a big school.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:07 AM on October 28, 2011

Okay, as someone who went to liberal arts school with a good art department and majored in art, there is a difference between doing that and going to art school. A huge difference! I can see why people are saying that liberal arts schools are the best of both worlds, but I think that's only true for a certain type of person / artist. I get that for some people they'd get the same thing out of each experience, meet the same sorts of people and lead the same sorts of lives and have the same sorts of art careers after, but I think you asked this question because you suspect that might not be true for you.

Overall, I'm glad that I went to liberal arts school instead. With just a couple exceptions, I loved my art department. I had excellent professors. I enjoyed the variety of classes. I took amazing lit, history, science, and computer science classes that I couldn't have taken at an art school, many of which informed my work. And the art history department at my school was stellar also; and much more rigorous, I think, than art history study sometime is at fine arts schools. I met a wider variety of people. Despite everything I'm about to list as what liberal arts schools are lacking compared to arts schools, I'm glad I went to liberal arts school.

The things that make me sometimes wish I'd gone to art school is that at art school, that's all that you do. I wonder if I'd be further along in my development as an artist. Art schools tend to focus much more on technical skills / technique (though that's not all they focus on, I just mean comparatively), whereas at my liberal arts school especially, it was basically only about form and content. I work very technically so sometimes I feel I missed out on getting more background in this. Like, at a liberal arts school, you can't take a class on just acrylic techniques, or just book making, or just woodworking. There's just drawing 1, printmaking 1, sculpture 1, painting 1. Also, you tend to focus in less a liberal arts school - I majored just in "fine art," while at an art school I might have majored in "drawing" or "watercolor" or "paper arts" or something like that. And related to that, while you can't decide to change your major to biology or history or something like that, at a liberal arts school, you probably can't decide to major in graphic design, illustration, architecture, or whatever, because they won't even have classes on those topics, just "fine art." And of most direct frustrating to me at the moment as a recent college grad in this economy, my liberal arts school was horrible at teaching us anything about the business of art. I didn't even know until after I graduated that there exist grants for individual artists to just make art, not even as public works! No one taught us how to write an artist statement, an artist's resume, a grant / residency application, or how to get work in a gallery, or photograph our work, or scan our work, or edit it in photoshop so looked nice. I taught myself all of that with the internet, books, and friends. At some art schools, they have entire separate classes on these things.

That focus and ability to experiment in media might be best for you. Or being able to explore other subjects might work best for you. It's also possible that, like people are saying, you don't even need to go to school. I get where they're coming from, but this wouldn't have worked for me. I work really well in an academic environment, and I think that the time I spent in college helped me grow as a person in a way that being on my own at that same age wouldn't have. It's true that like 65% or whatever of art grads don't make any art after graduating - I've seen that with my own peers. I do make art, though somewhat inconsistently, and am very, very slowly working on making it my career. I don't make nearly as much without the structure of majoring in it. I take continuing ed classes and have art groups to get myself to work.
posted by fireflies at 7:22 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I respectfully disagree with fireflies, I think it just depends on the school. Like I said I got my art degree at a state school but it was a huge school with a big art department. I got lots of specialized, technical training. You COULD major in illustration, and graphic design, etc. and take classes in weird, niche stuff. We also learned a lot about the business of art, how to write an artist statement, photographing and editing our work, Photoshop, etc. Basically everything in the third paragraph that fireflies missed out on, I got. My major was very technical and specific, not just a broad "fine arts" degree. Anyway, there's an easy solution to this, which is just to check out the catalog of prospective schools and see what they have to offer. You might be surprised by how little/ how much different schools have in their art programs.

I did spend one semester at a small liberal arts college and found the art department to be more like fireflies described, (i.e. very limited) and it sucked. Since art is a relatively small proportion of the student body at any non-art school, it makes sense that the art department at bigger schools is, well, bigger. That's what matters, I think. But by all means check out the catalog for any school's art department, if you decide to go the non-art school route.

Of course, OP, if you are 100% dead set on being an artist, then I think Art Schools ARE awesome! But you don't really sound like you necessarily are- I guess I just read a bit of myself in your question. I think people who LOVE ART because they love expressing themselves and love the whole art scene are the ones who become lifelong artists. People who like art because they are dexterous and creative do well in art school, but seem to gravitate towards different careers in the end, because for the vast majority of people it's difficult and frustrating to get a good and steady job as an artist and a lot of people just seem to decide it's not worth it. That's what happened to me. So, the fact that I went to a regular school instead of an art school made the transition easier when I was ready to make it. In general I just think it's better to leave lots of doors open and not pigeonhole yourself too early.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 8:38 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

It depends on what kind of art you want to do. Also, I think that art school is great, but only if you REALLY know what you want to do with your art. Do you just want to make stuff? Do you want to get into the gallery circuit? Do you care if you make a stable living on art?

I'm not a fine artist, so I can only share from an animation perspective. I chose not to go to an art school primarily because I wanted to stay close to home. I didn't really even think about any of the other factors. I ended up going to a state school (on scholarship) and going through their animation program. I had a nice--if not life-changing--experience. I came out of it with some good connections, some good portfolio pieces, and zero debt.

After I met other animation artists that DID go to art school, and explored some of the campuses, I did feel a little sad about not going. As people above have said, there's no other place where you'll be completely immersed in an artistic/creative environment. I have art school friends who have such stories! It really is the best opportunity to develop your art, get honest critique, and--most important to future employment--make connections.

That said...If I could go back I probably still wouldn't go to art school. I regret missing out on the art school culture, but I do not regret the 80K-100K+ in loans I would have accumulated.
posted by sprezzy at 11:43 AM on October 28, 2011

My situation was slightly different - my choice was not between Art and Liberal Art, but between art-heavy animation and technique-heavy animation.

By my senior year of high school I knew I wanted to major in "Art" - but I also knew that from a long-term financial point of view it wasn't the most pragmatic of choices. That year I was able to take an animation elective at a local college and rather hastily decided to major in animation, reasoning that I'd get my Art fix (this in the days before desktop 3D animation; I was all about the old-school, hand-drawn stuff) and still be fairly employable after school.

I narrowed my choices down to two schools. One was a hardcore Art School, where the animation major was structured such that you'd get two years of foundation art classes before going anywhere near anything animation-specific. The animation major at the other was under the purview of the school's film department, and had you shooting and editing film from day 1. At the time, getting hands-on right away seemed like the better option, and I wound up going there.

In hindsight I would have greatly benefited from a two year art foundation, and probably would have changed my major to something else by year 3; animation is really interesting, but not as interesting to me as I thought it was based on a 3 month course at age 17.

As someone who seems to enjoy the basic act of making things in multiple disciplines, one field you might want to look into is special effects (practical effects, that is; props and costumes, not CGI.) I wound up working in a couple of effects shops right after college and there's a pretty wide range of skills in demand. (Maybe less so in 2011 than in 1996, but there will always be demand for old-school physical effects). Sculpture, mold-making, casting, electronics, mechanics/hydraulics, design, painting... it was really interesting work. Ultimately not my thing, but I'm glad to have had the experience.
posted by usonian at 11:52 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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