What do you wish you'd learned in college?
July 10, 2008 6:38 AM   Subscribe

What do you wish you'd learned in college, especially art school? What important lessons or concepts that you know now, preferrably related to your profession, passed you by in school?

I'm mostly interested in arts education, but I'm looking for anyone who feels like they didn't get taught -- or were inefectively taught important things in school that they came to understand later. Bonus question: If you haven't been to art school but you know someone who has, what do you wish they had learned?
posted by nímwunnan to Education (27 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Just graduated from a not-art school here, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the things people are going to wish they had learned in college are going to be the things not related to their professions. You have your whole life to work a job and (if you're lucky), only a couple short years to pursue Whatever The Heck You Want. Take anything and everything that interests you, and if you come out at the end with a degree, then kudos to you.
posted by phunniemee at 6:50 AM on July 10, 2008

I was a graphic design major and at the time there was less emphasis on internships, real world experience, and more on the portfolio and work. Having a great portfolio is nice but I really wished I had a couple summers as an intern under my belt when I graduated. Of course I could have taken that incentive all on my own but looking back I almost wish it had been a requirement. It is in other areas of study at the university I went to.
posted by genial at 6:53 AM on July 10, 2008

I think some business courses would be good for everyone, because ultimately everything is a business, even if you work in the arts. Also, I would say look around at the kind of work people who have graduated with the same degree as you are doing, and see if it appeals to you, and what further education, if any, those people pursued. You might want to start looking ahead to grad school.
posted by Penelope at 6:55 AM on July 10, 2008

I was a theater major, and I'll second phunniemee's comment that getting outside your field is important. Especially in the arts, having a broad range of knowledge is very important. Also As Penelope said. Take business classes, especially finance courses. Chances are good that your income is going to be limited so being able to manage your money effectively will reduce a lot of stress. In addition, knowing you are in good financial shape reduces the risk of having to get the dreaded "day job".
posted by Morydd at 7:21 AM on July 10, 2008

I graduated in 2006 from Florida State University with a BFA in graphic design. I should mention here that FSU is not noted for it's arts programs, and I was patently unsatisfied with the 'education' I received there.

I now work in advertising and wish that my education had prepared me more for collaborative work. Less emphasis on expressing my personality through art and more emphasis on working to a brief would have been a useful addition. More time spent getting harsh, real-world style criticism of my work and learning how to defend my work from that criticism would have been useful as well.
posted by Pecinpah at 7:24 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wish they had attempted to beat the desire to be an artist out of us. Concentrate on fundamentals instead of self-expression, make us draw circles and squares sixteen hours a day, then tell us we were no damn good. I would have decided to go be an accountant, and those who managed to survive would have graduated with the talent and fundamental skills to rescue themselves from being hacks.
posted by TimTypeZed at 7:32 AM on July 10, 2008 [5 favorites]

I graduated from art school. Much time was spent alone working very hard, researching, writing. It's good to be serious about your education, but I wish I had met more people. Meet as many people as you can. A college degree means so little today, especially one from an art school. The way to get a job is meet people, shop yourself out, tell everyone your strengths and interests. Once school is over, you will be relying on your contacts to get a job. If you are shy get out of your bubble and befriend as many people,even in other departments, that you can. And get an internship. It's not beneath you. It's an excellent way to get your foot in the door at an arts organization, which are especially difficult to penetrate. good luck.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 7:38 AM on July 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

I get upset whenever I think about my "education." I got an MFA in theatre, and now, ten years later, I'm one of the only people in my class still involved in the arts. People graduated college EXPECTING to count to three and then be stars on Broadway. When that didn't happen, most of their dreams were shattered and they quit. Some quit right away. Others gradually trickled out of the profession.

Worse, there's a mindset that this is fine. That those people were never "meant" to be artists. I think that's bullshit. If they weren't meant to be artists, it's because either school trained them to believe in some sort of fairy-tale version of the artist's life, or because they already believed the tale and school didn't do anything to rid them of it.

I've been doing theatre in NYC for ten years, and I haven't made a dime doing it. In fact, I've lost thousands of dollars. I expect to go on losing thousands of dollars doing it. I expect to always have to support myself with a "day job." I'm fine with that. I'm so fine with it, I'd have to think about it if someone waved a magic want and allowed myself to quit my day job and do theatre full time.

(I also know some people who are much more "successful" than me. By and large, that means they work full-time as actors. They mostly make commercials and have walk-on parts on Soaps. They hate it. It's just a career to them. Whereas I don't compromise in my art. I direct uncut Shakespeare plays, and if no one comes, that's the way it goes. I'm going to lose money on it, anyway, so I might as well do what I want. My compromise is to work a day job. I compromise in my life so I don't have to in my art.)

But I like my day job. I'm a programmer. I love how that bounces off theatre. I love how theatre bounces off it.

I got lucky. I was a computer nerd growing up, so I managed to gather some skills without even trying. Most of my drama-school peers had no marketable skills. Of course they dropped out of the arts! They got sick to death of waiting tables and filing reports. In school, no one suggested that they learn a marketable skill. In fact, this was discouraged. It was considered "selling out." People would say, "If you're learning a marketable skill, that just means you're going to quit doing theatre eventually. You already have one foot out the door." I say fuck that. I say learn a marketable skill so that you can support doing theatre!

While you're young and still have the time and energy, become an expert at something which will pay your rent so that you can paint, act or whatever. And if you're one of those people who says, "But all I like is making art," then learn whatever you hate least! Sure, you might hate copy-editing, but isn't it better than waiting tables? Find something you can at least live with, so that you can keep on making art.

Here are the people who should really quit (and this is another thing no one stresses in school): the people who don't really love art.

In my experience, only about 20% of people in art school really love art -- really love making art. There's a very simple though experiment that you can do which will tell you whether you're one of those people: If I showed you your future, and proved to you that no one would ever see your work, and that it would never pay you a dime, would you keep doing it?

My answer is "yes." Of course I would keep doing it. I would be less happy doing it, but I would keep doing it. Because it's who I am.

Don't paint because you want money or fame or respect or women or revenge against your parents who wanted you to be a lawyer... It's okay if you want all or any of those things, but none of those things are enough to sustain you as an artist. Paint because you ache if you're not holding a brush.
posted by grumblebee at 7:46 AM on July 10, 2008 [10 favorites]

I studied photography. Absolutely zero time was spent talking about what to do to establish a career in photography either as a freelancer or fine artist. Being a fine artist is work - you have to knock on doors, etc. The college did a survey and found that students would leave and not pick up a camera again for another ten years. I think they simply didn't know what to do with the pictures anymore. I had a similar experience when I took some education classes at Columbia and found that there was absolutely no point at which students worked in a school or did any teaching, even though 90% of them were going to be doing that in the future.
posted by xammerboy at 7:51 AM on July 10, 2008

Most of my friends who were art majors either ended up working in regular corporate jobs (no different than if they'd had English degrees, or Botany, or any other subject where you can work knowing that your horizons have been expanded beyond your cubicle), or did their art while working trade or waitstaff jobs. The trade jobs (welding, carpentry, etc) paid better and provided a much better interplay with the art (plus you can steal tons and tons of raw materials from jobsites).

So my advice is to leave art school knowing enough of about a trade to get work in it. You can pick it up from sculpture and fabrication classes, or you can take those classes directly at a community college or vocational school, doesn't matter. Your art probably won't pay for itself for many years, if ever. But you do have a bunch of choices about your day job, and some of those choices will overlay a lot better with your art than others.
posted by Forktine at 7:55 AM on July 10, 2008

I graduated from a liberal arts college with an art major, emphasis in graphic design. I agree with genial in that there was a lot of emphasis on building a portfolio and creative concepts and almost no emphasis on real world skills.

I also agree with TimTypeZed.

Sometimes I find myself fantasizing about what I would tell design students now if I could go back to my college and talk with them. I would tell them that it isn't as glamorous as it seems - they likely won't be going to work everyday wearing black scarves and knee-high boots to their agency job in New York.

The reality is that they will probably find themselves doing minimally creative work at a private company in some obscure industry. They'll find themselves designing 47 different kinds of golf towels. They'll be creating e-mail blasts for a medical supply company. They'll design meat case dividers for a grocery chain.

Basically, I would burst their bubble. I'd show them that being a working graphic designer, especially entry level, is not going to an especially creative or glamorous job. I'd set them down in front of a computer and have them vectorize ten logos by noon in a program they'd never seen before. On a PC.

If they can accept what a designer's life is like at the entry level, then maybe they would be more willing to work hard and work toward that design agency job. I wouldn't tell them it's not possible, but it certainly takes talent and hard work.

I would also advise students that it is vital to get an internship and make contacts. It is important to pick up some complimentary skills - marketing experience to help put your work in context as far as what the company wants to do with their advertising, writing and editing experience so you aren't making more mistakes than you are fixing, prepress experience so that you don't send horrifying messes to the printer and finally, fine arts and illustration experience so that when you are called upon for creative work, you can quickly and confidently deliver.
posted by bristolcat at 8:03 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am not being glib, but the biggest thing I wish I'd learned in art school was practicality, specifically, don't make paintings 1. bigger than you can fit in your car, and (in correlary), bigger than you can get out your damned door without taking it apart (if you build your stretchers/sculptures entirely inside).

Stupidly, it took me several years to realize that if I just compromised my artistic need (:P) to make paintings 6x8' and made them 3x4' instead my life would be a whole lot easier and I'd save a lot of money not having to rent a truck every time I moved a painting.

As far as business classes-- I agree that artists should know how to be good businesspeople, but you don't want Econ 101, etc. If you want school-based larnin', you want to go to the local community college (or even quality Adult Ed) and take basic business accounting/bookkeeping, marketing for entrepreneurs and other basic entrepreneurship courses. These are more likely to have practical application to your actual needs than university courses designed to lead someone to an MBA, accounting, or Econ degree. I would actually say this is something you DON'T need to learn in art school, but rather after art school. While you're in art school you want to expose yourself to ideas. Take Logic, Philosophy, Language, Literature, Science. Want to learn about business? Get a day job in an actual business (smaller is better as you'll get a wider notion of what goes into it) and I don't mean Starbuck's. Go work for a gallery or a theater or a small publication or a boutique business and learn on the job.

Of course, one of the biggest comedowns of my career as an artist was learning that I was a way-more gifted businessperson than I was an artist. Oh well.
posted by nax at 8:10 AM on July 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

I majored in finance and economics, and the most important skillset I acquired in college was learning how to use and apply the elements of critical thought. My junior year my suitemate gave me this book and I have never looked back.

Coupling critical thought with the proper identification of fallacies gives me an edge in the business world because I am consistently able to reason faster than my boss and give more valuable insight into challenges facing the company.

This by far was the most important "life skill" I learned in college. Other than that, learning economics is paramount to being a good voter/citizen.
posted by yoyoceramic at 8:11 AM on July 10, 2008 [3 favorites]

I studied engineering, and a cursory requirement was made to take humanities classes - our advisors pretty much helped us find the biggest blow-of humanities so we could concentrate on the 18 credit/semester engineering workload.

I really wish I'd been told to branch out and try some other interests...I never took a photog class, never worked on languages, etc.

And now, as an engineer, I hardly use *any* of the schooling. Certainly little of the calculations - and if I did, I could just look 'em up. There was no schooling on the business of engineering; and because most of the graduates in my engineering program become consultants (I'm one of three guys in my graduating class that have ever had the title of "[blank] engineer"), I didn't even learn anything about getting a Practicing Engineer license, which would be damn useful to me now.
posted by notsnot at 8:14 AM on July 10, 2008

My comments are very much specific to advertising/marketing. I strongly second what folks are saying here about getting some real-life experience before graduating. Whether it's business classes, learning how to give and take feedback, or just interning at an ad agency to understand what it's like to have your creative work driven by money and not personal satisfaction, real-life experience is priceless.

I am not a graphic designer, but I have say in who I work with as a marketing strategist, and I tend to stay away from traditional art school graduates. I live near RISD and from my perspective, it seems that a lot of the non-advertising art students graduate thinking they can just get a job at an ad agency doing "creative" work. But it really just doesn't work that way.

The advertising/marketing world can be brutal for all involved, but especially for the creative teams who take it personally and can't remove their own personal vision for the work. Advertising/marketing is about helping the client's vision of the brand come to life in a smart, interesting, effective way. The best creatives are some of the smartest people I know, but not necessarily the best artists.
posted by anthropoid at 8:16 AM on July 10, 2008

I think the answers to this question should be specific to whether you are pursuing a fine arts education or a commercial arts education. There's a world of difference between the two, in terms of being prepared to support yourself as either a commercial or fine artist.

I can only speak from the point of view of someone who had (what I consider) a very thorough and far-reaching fine arts education. Forktine's advice is good, I think it's important to leave school with some applicable job skills (be they digital or physical) that you can use to pay the bills while you pursue your own personal work.

I'm not sure if other schools offer a course on how to write grants, apply for residencies, and generally organize the business side of a career as an exhibiting artist, but mine did. I think all fine arts departments should require something similar.

(Alas, I recently decided to return to graduate school, and ordered a copy of my undergraduate transcripts. I had forgotten what grades I'd received, so it was amusing to read down the course list from my senior year:
"Painting": A-
"Phenomenology and Hermeneutics": A-
"Discourses in Pornography": A
"Life After RISD": C-.

Well, that was prescient.)

One thing that was mentioned already for commercial art students is that they should get experience working in a collaborative environment. I think this also true for fine art majors, so much of being able to do one's own work is dependent on having a collaborative support system of not just galleries or arts institutions but of other artists. I've come to believe that being able to both contribute to a strong creative community and draw on the resources (people and ideas!) such environments provide is essential to being able to continue to plug away over the long haul.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:37 AM on July 10, 2008

I went to art school first and then I went back and got another BA in art education at a mostly teacher's training school. Nobody told me to take child and adolescent psychology but I did anyway, two semesters worth and I think they were two of the most valuable classes I took. Knowing what kids at any age are developmentally capable of is really helpful; naturally, they don't cover it much in art education, but you'll find in a classroom that you won't get far until you realize that, for example, five and six year olds have real trouble with scissors. The other thing you need and don't get in art education training is actual time with kids. Lots and lots of time with kids. There are a lot of things that can't be covered in school, like what I call teacher voice: the fine and gentle art of classroom management. Without it your classes will not go far.

Another thing I didn't learn in college was how to use kids' art supplies. Coming up with age appropriate, curriculum related projects using only what the school can afford is hard. You're going to be lucky if you find a school with a kiln. If you even do, you're not going to be using nice porcelain clay. There won't be good paints. The paper will be cheap as hell. Some schools have only a cardboard box of broken crayons. Start making art only with stuff you can get at the corner drugstore; figure out the most creative, crazy projects you can and accept that you're still going to be spending some - quite a lot, actually - of your own salary at Nasco so the kids can actually get to make cool things.

I'm also going to echo everything grumblebee said and everyone else who is saying get a skill. FWIW, I found out that being an art teacher did not mesh well at all with being a painter. I thought it would, but teaching is incredibly difficult, grueling work that you cannot get away from: when you go home, you won't have the energy to paint. Teaching, at least in the public schools, is also beset on all sides by total idiots and horrible bureaucracies the like of which you cannot imagine. I couldn't hack being surrounded by that atmosphere for the rest of my life, so I managed to slide myself into an art museum, first as an administrative assistant in the education department, then as a museum educator, and so on eventually into PR and marketing and graphic design. Most people's career paths, you'll find, are similarly eccentric. My mother forced me to take typing in high school (I am old. We didn't have but the one computer in the school.) and although at the time I frothed at the mouth and screamed about how sexist it was, I tell you she was totally, but totally right and knowing how to type fast is how I got the hell out of waiting tables.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:46 AM on July 10, 2008

Went to a fine arts college, for fine arts you think they'd do better at fundamentals.

Too many students went in not knowing how to draw a figure and left the same way only with over inflated egos.

lack of actual criticism was a problem as well, everything was accepted in critiques with shiny smiley pats on the head from teacher. It was disturbing.

Not all teachers were like that but far too many.

Everyone was in the cult of art, not the production of it.
posted by Max Power at 9:05 AM on July 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

I wish they had attempted to beat the desire to be an artist out of us. Concentrate on fundamentals instead of self-expression, make us draw circles and squares sixteen hours a day, then tell us we were no damn good. I would have decided to go be an accountant, and those who managed to survive would have graduated with the talent and fundamental skills to rescue themselves from being hacks.

I did have this kind of experience in "art" school (in my case, music, specifically piano at a conservatory) -- and I will say it did make me a better artist to be immersed 12 hours a day in real honest-to-goodness craft and then later be expected to do something with that technique that was more substantial than just a reading of the score or an exercise in self-indulgence (though I would argue that both extremes have a role in the creative process). But it certainly did not prepare me for post-conservatory professional life. It's a difficult thing to study and train at the level your discipline demands AND also prepare for a real-world contemporary life existence, because the two are seemingly completely at odds. (Especially in terms of classical music -- I could play the black key etude at the speed of light and identify a Beethoven sonata off the first note alone, but what my post-music school bosses cared about was could I handle a section of 20 tables in a rush or could I work the fax machine. Strangely enough, I just couldn't find a job opening for "piano soloist"!) We had one "practical life" class about setting up a teaching studio and the skills needed for applying for jobs in education (including how to write a resume, etc.), but there was no training at all in how to have an actual performance career, how to promote yourself, how to get a manager or agent, or, more essentially, how to exist with an 19th-century skillset in a 21st-century world.

On the other hand, I did learn these things on my own, after grad school, when I tried my hand at finding my way as a performer and teacher, and I don't know that, had these kinds of lessons been offered while I was training so hard, I would have been able to fully appreciate them at the time. One incident that stuck with me from music school is when a bitter, frustrated pianist, a performer who supplemented his career with a teaching position at the conservatory, digressed during a technique class to bitch about how easy we all had it, with no responsibility other than to learn this repertoire and practice all day. "Try doing that when you actually have a life!" he told us.

He had a point.

Having said that, though, I don't regret the years I spent having "no life" outside the practice room, learning repertoire and for a time living outside of the contemporary world. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and no temp job or three-part-time-jobs-at-once stint or waitressing gig or anything else I had to do post-school that wasn't music could diminish that.

If I was counseling my own daughter about this, though, I would want her to know going in that making a career of her artistic passion will take creativity and savvy above and beyond what's required to be a good artist in her chosen discipline; that business sense is as important as artistic sense; and that it's not crass, or even a distraction, to consider the practical applications (and value) of what you do as an artist if you plan to spend your life doing it and want to be able to support yourself. And, lastly, that training intensely in one thing and ending up doing something completely different as a profession does not mean that you have failed, or that you are a failure as an artist.
posted by mothershock at 9:30 AM on July 10, 2008

Not an artist, though have had many experiences with them. Mostly graphic designers though other types as well. I would say the biggest thing is to learn people skills - which is not exactly in the curriculum. Learn how to interact and deal with people. Know how to avoid or resolve conflict. Learn how to not be an a**hole. To be perfectly frank, my best friend is in the art world and we used to work at the same place. My colleagues HATED her and couldn't understand how we were friends because she was so awful to deal with professionally. She alienated everyone around her and then wondered why everyone disliked her. I've seen her in action, and even I didn't like her at those times. Don't be her.

Take some business classes because you're going to have to make money somehow off your art if you pursue it full time, might as well learn how to do it successfully.

Know also that your art is crucially important only to you. Much like the bride (and maybe groom) are the only ones that really really really care about the details of a wedding. A lot of people get caught up in the "my art! my vision! how dare you cross me!" haughtiness and are jerks as a result.

The reality is that they will probably find themselves doing minimally creative work at a private company in some obscure industry. They'll find themselves designing 47 different kinds of golf towels. They'll be creating e-mail blasts for a medical supply company. They'll design meat case dividers for a grocery chain.
This too.
posted by ml98tu at 9:38 AM on July 10, 2008

school should teach you to see. it should show you things, expand your mind and still leave room for how mysterious everything really is.

now, it seems to me, people in art school only learn how to justify what they do. in a way, they are just learning rhetoric. which is a useful skill to make money and to deal with the art world as it is now, but it has nothing to do with being aware and awake, with being open to the world and the nourishment it offers.

but it's a tall order to ask school to make people aware. we live in a society that makes a great deal of effort to keep everybody completely asleep. and art school is no exception.

i agree with grumblebee on most things. i would rather work for money on something else and keep my real work free from any external demands.
posted by MrMisterio at 9:53 AM on July 10, 2008

I graduated from art school in '83. I wish they had covered the business aspects of being an artist - from keeping a mailing list to writing proposals, promoting oneself, approaching galleries - the whole works. I'm one of the only ones left from my class still making art full time. Obviously I picked the necessary stuff up but back then the attitude seemed to be that it was somehow demeaning to actually discuss how one was going to eat while making art. It does seem to have improved at my alma mater anyway - I go back every year as part of a career day but that's something they've only done in the last 5 or so years. I never heard any discussion of possible strategies back in the day - like teach, do design, be a fabricator, etc. Guess everyone was too pure to even contemplate it.

I don't necessarily think that the idea of a day job that's completely separate from one's art practice is the ideal for everyone. For many people creatively cobbling a mix of stuff together furthers one's career better than keeping how one earns a living separate from one's art practice. That said, I don't think anyone should become an artist/musician etc unless they really are totally impelled to do so since there are far easier ways to make a living!
posted by leslies at 10:48 AM on July 10, 2008

I went to art school for photography. The two most valuable things for me were getting an internship and taking business classes. Being an artist is 90% business and 10% being good, you can suck and still make a living if you can handle the business side (and conversely, all the talent in the world won't save you if you can't sell and market yourself). I also realized early on that I needed to find something I was good at, liked, and was a viable career (for me, shooting portraits on location with artificial light) and concentrated on that. A lot of people I went to school with spent 4 years dabbling in everything, not really getting good at any one thing, and then were unable to find work after school because their portfolios were all over the place and they had no vision to market themselves with. Their silver gelatin Holga prints may have been cool at the time, but it doesn't really translate to writing a contract, negotiating a license, or being an assistant on set. Honestly I think the majority of people I went to school with will probably never pick up a camera again.

Networking and spending time talking to my professors outside of class was also really helpful, especially the professors who actually had real careers and didn't go straight from getting their MFA to teaching and being fine artists. Not that there's anything wrong with fine art or teaching, I just found their views a little out of touch with the reality of being a full time working photographer. I had one professor in particular who constantly gave me crap and told me my work would go nowhere because I refused to write flowery artist statements about my images, yet those same images are still in my book and land me jobs all the time.

Also NETWORK. Don't burn any bridges. Don't make excuses to clients, no matter how bad things go. Write thank you notes for everything. When someone does you a favor or helps you land a job, repay it somehow. Marketing is cumulative, so do it constantly. I graduated not too long ago so I am not an expert, but that is what I've learned so far.
posted by bradbane at 6:21 PM on July 10, 2008 [3 favorites]

Oh, and all those professors that everyone thinks is an asshole? Those are the best ones because they don't bullshit you and will call you out if something sucks. The most disappointing thing about art school for me were the teachers who were afraid of hurting people's feelings and wouldn't give honest critiques.

now, it seems to me, people in art school only learn how to justify what they do.

This too. Just because you can justify crappy work doesn't change the fact that you are making crappy work.
posted by bradbane at 6:26 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have a BFA in graphic design and am a full time freelancer. I wish internships had been mandatory. Wish they taught you about naming and organizing job files. Wish they'd talked about practical aspects of protecting and archiving files. (All of my work from school is on zip disks. Worthless.) Wish they'd taught practical aspects of designing and file prep for newspaper, tradeshow and environmental graphics. Wish somebody had told me that a column-inch /= an inch. Wish there'd been a seminar, elective, anything about freelancing, finding clients, and self-employment taxes. Wish I hadn't had to sit through a class where I had to cut rubylith and prepare camera-ready art, just because the professors were nostalgic. Wish my web design class had actually been about designing information for web and not about how to program flash. Wish there'd been a copywriting elective (not that designers should be copywriters, but in real life you need to be able to improve a client's ad copy on the fly). I wish the projects I was assigned were treated more like real projects instead of "design a brochure for your favorite sports team" with no restraints on budget or specs or crazy client whims.

I know that most of the shortfalls of my program are because I graduated in 2002, and few if any of my professors ever practiced in the world I work in now. But regardless, I spent way too much time on theory and not enough on real world stuff I actually do.

Also, I think that rhetoric is one of the more valuable things we did. It's not JUST justifying crap work - a huge part of what I do is being able to communicate why my ideas are valid. A suprising number of artists suck at communication.

Can you tell this has crossed my mind? ;)
posted by shopefowler at 8:37 PM on July 10, 2008

I have a BFA in graphic design from a state school, and I must second what shopefowler has said about being unprepared for the Real World. (I too learned about the glories of Rotring pens, non-repro blue pencils and amberlith when those technologies had one and a half feet in the grave) We were given WEEKS! to work on projects that here in the real world the client would need in two days. There wasn't emphasis on business skills, time management skills, the importance of networking, etc. Only one professor I can remember tried to get us to really think; to tie the ideas we talked about in our lit and history and science classes in with graphic design stuff.

Also, my father gave me some good advice I naturally paid no attention to: use elective credits to take something that has nothing to do with art classes just to see what else is out there 'cause it might be your last chance to experiment. My problem was that I had been praised for my skillz and called "the little artist" since I was in diapers painting on the walls with geranium petals and so in college I didn't try out, I don't know, Intro to Forestry, or something. So try out other stuff if you get a chance.
posted by Salthound at 10:14 AM on July 11, 2008

What I didn't realize until years later was how nice it was to have that built-in audience of fellow art students. After school, I slowly began to create less and less until now, where I create almost nothing. It took me awhile to realize that, without an audience, I wasn't nearly as motivated to do my stuff. So one of the things I wished I'd worked on was finding a way to get my work out there when I didn't have a class full of fellow students to show it to.
posted by hootch at 8:30 PM on July 11, 2008

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