Art & Schools

‘ I make art *shows art*’
‘Cool man, have you considered art school?’
Replace art above with literally any domain and you have the same issue. Schooling is useful, but regardless of what happens in that school, how good your grade is (in a subjective field), you will still be faced with a blank page and a colossal amount of work if you want to make your own project.
Art IN THE PROCESS is thankless, incredibly time-consuming and you’re going to have to set up for many failures before you succeed.
School is great for giving you incentives, but if you can’t operate without arbitrary deadlines (set by others) and feedback, then you will not make it as an artist – you might make it working FOR an arts company, but you will not get past the hours and hours of potentially hopeless slogging, sacrifice and patience to get your work done.
Basically, if the only time you pick up your pad is to draw for an assignment, the only time you write a song is for an assignment, etc etc., then your incentive meter has been tilted – you’re not doing things for yourself anymore, and all great art starts from within. I see this in some incredible performers and artists, and it is genuinely saddening. They have forgotten what brought them to the form.
I would encourage everyone to, instead of continue this perpetual flow of art degrees, be supportive of what their friends are looking to do creatively, and hopefully they can find intrinsic motivations rather than become pre-occupied with whether or not they will get into a school.
When I was 15, my school teachers wouldn’t let me sit Higher Art. I was far and away the best draughtsman in my year – and my previous work demonstrated this. They didn’t let me sit it because my work-rate for deadlines was so poor that it would probably incur them extra time just to nanny me through it, and by the end I’d probably only scrape a C.
This school was very serious about upping their average grades, and I was so unmotivated; I was very unhealthy and depressed as a teenager, my mind was not in the abstract, I was just trying to get by, day to day, and not get bullied. My mother moaned, my family were annoyed. I was certainly dealt a blow, but cared far less than my family.
I wish someone had told my naive self that it didn’t matter – that regardless of whether I went to Art school or not, the game is the same – I put things on paper, I express myself, I promote them, sell them, and it continues. Nothing changes. I don’t need to go to a big building 3-5 times a week to be inspired.
Next time someone shows you something promising creatively, I implore that you encourage them to continue creating, to keep the flame alit, and maybe even try not to mention school. The education system is a foregone conclusion for doctors, academics, social scientists, and an amicable one at that – but it will never be this for the arts. There are too many outliers in the art world and too many lines of inspiration. The sooner that the only artists that succeed come through schools, the sooner we can confidently assume that we are indoctrinated.

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