Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Introductions are in order

When I went to art school, I was convinced that I would learn what I needed to know in order to be a great artist. I studied animation and film specifically, and from books about the art of animation I learned the disciplines that were most needed in order to be a great animation artist. I fought to be included in figure drawing classes where I learned to construct the human figure in my mind and feign three dimensions on two dimensional paper; I learned to detach what I was seeing from what I knew so I could record it more accurately; I absorbed art history in hopes that the inspiration of these great artists would rub off on me, and that from observing patterns of history I hoped to figure out how these men (and a few women) became as great as they are. I learned how to recreate reality with art then to go beyond that into creativity and individual interpretation of the world. For practicality's sake I learned time saving tricks and techniques that allowed me to correct my mistakes without damaging the precious works of art that I was creating. I was sure I was on my way.

The problem is that half (or maybe even more than half) of being a successful artist has nothing to do with any of that.

The years I spent after school were a constant struggle of catching up with how the real world worked. As time went on I became bitter at how little I knew, at how I had tuition debt but no practical skills, meaning I couldn't even qualify for a job as a secretary (sorry, administrative professional). I was angry that I went to school to become a professional artist, and that I graduated with honors, but that I was still miles from being a professional artist, and I wasn't even sure where the path was to get there. Around me classmates were dropping like flies, disappearing into menial jobs that they could have gotten straight out of high school or with a two year certificate.

But I got lucky. I persisted. I clawed and pestered, and I started getting work and more work, and I started figuring out the mysteries one by one. I am still learning. Now I occasionally go to a class to speak about my experiences, and I look at the fresh faced students with sympathy because they don't know what is in store for them, and their parents don't know either.

To this day the nature of an artists' education boggles my mind. We have so much to learn in order to be successful. The ideal art education, to me, would be like this: A young artist with potential is spotted by a teacher at a ripe young age- maybe they draw insane things or are always wanting to create. They are taught technique and art history in between their math and reading classes up until their graduation from high school. Then, after high school, they go to college for business and management, with a minor in mastering art. If we were all so lucky, this world would be run by artists right now.

But, we're not so lucky. So I figured the next best thing would be a blog attempting to deal with the issues that every artist needs to deal with, to be a kind of resource for struggling artists in the attempt at addressing some of the things that they don't teach and will never teach you in art school.

So, let's see how this goes, shall we?