Art School. Necessary?
Well..it depends on what it is your looking for I suppose.
Full disclosure, I’ve been to two of them. Awesome, incredible schools:
1) “Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design” (RMCAD): 1987-1989
2) “California Institute of the Arts”(CALARTS): 1990-1993
I studied different things at each school. At RMCAD, I studied ‘fine art’, because it allowed me more figure drawing and painting classes. Which the commercial art classes strangely enough..didn’t.
At CALARTS, I studied animation.
I’ll have a different posts on my times at both of these schools at another time. This post is about schools in general.
Back in those (not so distant) years, schools were the thing. They had to be. There was nothing else really.
So, you go and you get your training. You’re piece of paper stating that you didn’t sleep your way through. And you fly from the safe, comfy confines of school and right into the job world (ideally).
The downsides to schools are pretty obvious:
*They can and usually are VERY expensive. Even if you are fortunate enough to get scholarships and grants (such as I somehow managed to do), you are going to be digging deep…
*The costs don’t just stop there…as the methods for acquiring ‘financial aid’ has changed so much since I was going to both of my schools…so ‘aid’ may be very limited or come with even more strings attached to it.
*Housing: (ka-ching!!) Apartments vs Dorm is essentially ‘expensive vs expensive’.
*Food: Even if you were going to survive on ramen and mayonnaise sandwiches as I did (Totally serious)…the costs do add up.
*Re-location costs: Yeah….the hits keep on coming.
Another thing about on-site schools is the ability to be distracted.
The party’s, the party’s…and oh….did I mention the party’s? On campus as well as off.
So many way’s to get sidelined. So many ways to take your eye off of the main goal. And remember…YOU are the one paying for it.
So if your head isn’t on straight, you’re gonna find yourself with one big stack of debt. All for the most expensive ‘party’ ever. With nothing to show for it. Or worse…nothing your Parents can show for it.
I’ve seen it happen. Tons of times.
So, due to all this, the idea of learning online becomes a more and more ideal option for many.
Nowadays…do you need a school to learn? No. Not entirely anyway.
There are so many online outlets to learn from today.
In the case of Animation (The same thing is true for concept art, illustration etc. But for now let’s just look at animation.), If you want a more structured sort of learning experience, there ARE those online options such as:
- *”Animation Mentor”
To name just a few. And all of them have some fantastic people that will give you that ‘in class’ attention and guidance. Within a group setting (via webcam).
And at the end of it all, you get an official certificate saying you completed the course . “Yay! This kid is awesome” sort of thing.
Which is a good thing to have and show in a resume, and to future employers.
Now…these places aren’t cheap. Not one bit. With costs upward of : 2500.00 per course (pending on what courses you want to take. In “animationmentors” case, there are 13. (Price example below)
Add to those costs that you will have to invest in acquiring the software (Maya) as well as a strong enough computer to handle that program.
Trust me…you don’t want a weak one. The lag times will frustrate you to no end!
But you will learn the material. And you will get the mentorship that you need. No doubt about it.
Other very valuable options:
*Pro Tutorial DVD’s: There are also tons of pro’s out there who are marketing their own dvd tutorials from digi-painting, to traditional animation AND digi-animation, to concept illustration, design etc etc!
*“Pluralsite.com” (formerly “Digital Tutorials”): Is another online option. Which offers online video tutorials ranging from photoshop, Flash, Maya to a ton of other software courses.
This is a much more limited training experience, with no real ‘one on one’ mentoring.
But with about 280 Maya animation courses . It will give you a coverage on the fundamental basics from some very good people!
As a result of it being more limited in training…the cost is much lower than many of those more structured online options such as those listed above.
(costs: about 30.00$ billed monthly or 200.00$ annually. AND… They also offer a ‘free 10 day trial’ of their site to test the waters. And that’s pretty doggon nice, right?)
Full disclosure: While at Electronic Arts, the studio paid for a company membership for it’s artstaff. Just in case we wanted to get more training in any given area we might be interested in.
What I liked about this site, was that it had training in TONS of other things besides MAYA, that were relevant to what I was doing.
Photoshop. Flash. Illustrator. Game development. Concept Design.
And I really dug that.
So! Even though ALL of these online resources are a bit expensive…it’s still cheaper long term than the tuition, re-locating and living in apts/dorms etc, that you would have if you were going through the on-site school rout.
The Free! (For now)..
Youtube alone offers an incredible amount of information, from drawing and painting tutorials, to animation and modeling.
It’s pretty extraordinary how much youtube alone offers, on a wide range of things and topics across the board!
And best of all.. it’s free! (for now)
The teaching is hit or miss, but if you don’t like one persons teaching ability or get nothing from it…you can just click on the next vid from the next youtuber. Many of these people are pro’s’ working in the industry in some capacity. Some are just uber talented people that are very open to sharing what they know…with you! 🙂
Best of all…..It’s FREE!
On-Site Schools and Art Colleges
So with all these options, what is the point of even considering on-site schools? And *would* I encourage people to go that rout?
Well…again. It depends.
Yes you can get the same information from online. You just can. Just being honest about it.
But….and this is a big booty but: The one thing that a school does have to offer that online resources do not..is:
“The human element”
There is a huge plus to ‘being there’. To just flat out ‘being there’.
Being out and away from home. Out of your comfort zone.
To having those people, your fellow students along side you. To learning not just from your instructors who are right next to ya…but your peers.
And it is very different than online.
Now, I can hear some out there saying: “Well…I’d get that in forums or in the online classes”.
No. Not really. It’s very different.
The ‘life experience’ as it were, was almost as important in some ways (and MORE important in other ways), than even the artistic lessons that were taught when I was in school.
And not just from the teachers, but by and from the students as well.
The insight from the people around you. The very easy sharing of info and of life…
The struggles as well as the successes.
It’s what helps make you a better person in some ways and in turn….make you a better artist.
It’s invaluable. Priceless.
Bottom line on all of these options:
There is a wealth of information out there. Tons of options for you. A smorgasbord of choices.
No matter what you chose…the learning is ultimately up to you.
The responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders.
As it does for all of us.
And if you don’t learn, then you really have to look inward and ask yourself why?
There really is no excuse now. Only a lack of discipline.
And that isn’t something that any school (on-site or online) can ever teach you.
So, do your research.
Make the decision that is right for you. And get on out there and get learning!
Your future is waiting!