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Hey all!

There has been so much misinformation on the topic of Art School I felt it was seriously needed I tackled the topic from the perspective of a professional. It's a long read, so get comfy ;)

First things first, I'm Marc (hello!) and if you didn't know already, up until a little over a year ago I was a Senior Artist (2D/3D) working for Blizzard Entertainment. I worked on Overwatch for 5 years as a member of the starting team (2nd character artist on the team) and then on StarCraft and Heroes of the Storm.

I've given talks, interviews, written workshops for ImagineFX and a number of other magazines, worked freelance on the side throughout my career and more importantly, I've never been to art school. I'm now leading the team over @ Cubebrush but that's boring so let's skip over that :)

With this post I want to accomplish 3 different things:

  1.  🔹 Debunk the importance of traditional art schools
  2.  🔹 Debunk the belief you need a degree or certificate to be a professional artist
  3.  🔹 Offer a solution to those looking for alternatives

🔷 You don't need to go to Art School to get good

Let me just begin by saying going to art school in itself is not a bad thing. There are many art schools out there with good teachers and decent curricula. It can definitely work for some, especially if you don't have to pay for it yourself or if it's free/near free where you live.


The main issue is always the costs. This focuses more on the US market but these problems are similar in many other countries as well (if you have art schools at all!). The average cost of 3-4 years in art school here in the US will vary between $60k-200k. Obviously, no student has this kind of money (even with scholarships) so most end up getting student loans, paying back insane amounts of debts over their entire adult life. Having lots of friends in that situation, it's easy to see it's a major burden and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Hell, my wife is in that situation as well, as an ex Animator for Blizzard having attended Animation Mentor.


The worse part is probably the results these art school generate. The average placement 2 years after graduation is a ridiculous 10% and the salaries can be expected to be between $20-40k right out of school. This obviously sucks if you expect to be paying back a ton of debt. Now if you don't have any debt, that's not bad to be doing something you love!

I've obviously met a lof of artists in my life, most of my friends are artists and as a result I've heard a lot of stories. What's more striking is the % of professional artists with art degrees, it's a little under 50%. This means the majority of working pros did not attend art school. Let that sink in.

The main argument that keeps coming back is that you need the networking school provides and the human contacts to help each other grow. Again, for most people that's simply not true. Most artists tend to be introverts, and introverts work better alone. Even then it's usually pretty easy to find local art meets or life drawing classes/sessions. The networking part? Most of your networking will be done online, which is by far the most effective way to get noticed. If you post online regularly, keep being involved in the art community and display solid growth over time, that's the best way to get TONS of eyes on your art and as a result: job offers. If you can't get noticed online, the whole art thing is probably not gonna work out anyways, at least not as your primary source of income. Deviant Art, other portfolio platforms, instagram, facebook groups, etc are fantastic gauges of your shot at a professional career. If you can grab people's attention that way, you should be just fine. It can sound silly for some, but more views/likes/shares = more opportunities. The more you get, the better the opportunities as well, as in, more money.

🔷 Do you need a degree to get hired?

Absolutely NOT.

Aside from placement expectations, this is probably the biggest lie/misconception floating around. You do not need a degree to get hired, ever. At this point you might have realized it based on the fact most pros don't have any like I just mentioned, but it's something art schools and misinformed parents keep repeating to students and it couldn't be further from the truth, and it actually ruins the lives of many as a result.

To make it worse, a lot of studios actually mention in their application requirements you need some sort of certification or degree to be considered. Let me make this very clear again, this IS NOT TRUE.

Then why mention it at all, right? Here's the logic - and once again this is not my opinion, this is coming directly from friends that are recruiters and from countless studios my company interviewed over the last 2 years - it's a requirement simply to make their life easier. Think of it as an applicants filter.

Basically, it's much more likely an applicant with an art degree will have a decent portfolio than someone without. If the applications were opened to everyone (they are in fact open to everyone) studios would get floaded with applications from amateur artists thinking they are good enough because their parents told them so. 

It's simply a filter for the studio. The logic works in most cases even if they might miss out on a few qualified artists who don't apply when they see the requirements. Same with the requirements asking for x years of experience - it's there to filter out applicants, but really it doesn't mean anything.

What you actually need

Then what matters you ask? First, your PORTFOLIO. Second, your personality. It's pretty much 50/50 between those 2. Nothing else. Your portfolio will get you the interview, your personality will convince the employer to hire you.

Don't believe me? Email/call the studios and ask this question:

If I have a good portfolio, does it matter if I have a degree/formal education or not? 

The answer will always be "no". Try it.

I mentionned at the beginning I didn't have an art degree myself - not only that but I have no degrees at all. I'm a dropout!

There is actually one scenario for which having a degree can help, but it's probably not what you expect: Getting a work visa if you plan to work abroad. The custom agents don't know if your portfolio is good or bad, so they rely on formal education to issue work visas. Not having one isn't a deal breaker though, again in my case, I didn't have one yet still relocated from Canada to the US with a work visa and had no problems doing so. Still, it usually helps.

Having work experience can also serve as an equivalent to formal education however, so again, a degree is not "needed" if you really want to work in a different country.

🔷 If going to a traditional art school is often a bad idea, then what?

Now comes the good part, the solution!

There are many alternatives to a formal art education - online tutorials, art workshops, study groups, figure drawing classes, plein air painting classes, YouTube, etc. 

For a lot of people this can work. It did for me. You can start with some go-to art books (here are some recommendations) and then supplement your learning with tutorials, workshops, etc.

There is one thing missing with all these though, the structure of school. The curriculum.

If you're really good as self-teaching you should definitely be able to make it, it might take some extra time to find everything you need by collecting bits and pieces all over the place, but it's definitely doable. For others who need the structure, that might be a harder pitch. That might be your case.

Still, in both cases, having a solid structure and solid content will always speed up your learning significantly. Time is our most valuable resource, don't waste it!

Regardless of your learning preference, during my time working as a professional I was somehow always expecting something to come along and fix art-learning. With the technologies we have today it seems ridiculous for people to still have to attend traditional schools with a format that hasn't changed in hundreds of years, or find themselves scouting the entire intrawebs to find the bits and pieces needed to build a strong foundation. Still, after all my years in the industry nothing that could fully replace school ever poped up.

So last year, I said f*** it and decided I'd just tackle this damn task myself. This is how ART School for Digital Artists was born.

I spent the majority of 2017 sneaking around asking friends/colleagues who were teaching to show me their school curricula hoping to see what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong. I collected about 15 from all the top schools around the country & abroad and used those as inspiration to carefully build the perfect curriculum for my own ART School project. 

The result is a 10 Term online course with the best curriculum you'll find if your goal is to be a successful digital artist (any kind of digital artist). There is nothing out there like it, and 4 terms in, I can see why! The amount of work required to put something like this together is absolutely insane. At least it's a ton of fun!

Last year, once I felt the curriculum was great, I started working on the course. I'm about to release Term 4 soon and while it's been incredibly difficult and time consuming, the feedback has been 100% worth the efforts. I release each Terms as I finish work on them so you can already get started.

If you want to get a better idea, please check out the video trailer and curriculum here

It's basically the spiritual equivalent of a BFA, but focused on digital art.

It's meant to be a complete art education, whether you're starting from nothing or have a good base already. It comes with assignments and there's a forum dedicated to it where students can share their process and grow together. There's also a Discourse channel and more ways for students to interact and grow coming in the near future (Google hangouts, streams, etc!).

I have 100% confidence in the fact you will not find a better way to learn and build a killer portfolio. Not only that but there will be classes on marketing yourself as an artist, and others on the business side of art, both topics you would definitely NOT learn at a traditional school since it takes someone who's made it (successfully!) to teach it.

Did I mention the price? It's cheaper than the art books you would need going to traditional school alone. It's just slightly over $1 a day for a full year.

This is the biggest project of my life so far and I couldn't be more excited to take you along for the ride. With 1500+ students already enrolled taking control of their career and nothing but perfect reviews, I think you might get quite a lot out of it too :) I've been teaching for many years now in the form of video tutorials and 1-1 mentorship so I wasn't too worried about the quality of my teaching (jk I was super worried) but seeing the fantastic feedback really is the confirmation I needed. For a project like this, art chops are important, but teaching skills equally so!

Sorry for the plug at the end here but I feel it's an important project for a lot of artists out there so I needed to share it!

Whether you're interested in the project or the other alternatives I mention, I really hope this post helps clear things up a bit when it comes to art education. 

Don't hesitate to shoot your questions in the comments below, or share your feedback or personal experience going to art school if you can, good or bad! The more people know, the more educated everybody is about it, the better.

🎓 Learn more about ART School: Digital Artists - 🎓

Add a Comment:
fabianfucci Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Professional Filmographer
Good post, but I still think the title may be revised to deliver an accurate impression.
Brigidnn Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've actually been thinking about this subject for a while now. I dropped out of two colleges since I graduated high school, not because of anything directly relating to art, but it is hard for me to even think about wasting more money on going to another school even if it is for something I love. I am already thousands of dollars in debt, working a part time job while trying to find a full time job so I can support myself and move out of my parents house, as I do not like burdening them with my problems. They have been advising me to try to go to a local community college that my brother goes to now (he too dropped out of college). It would be a lot cheaper and I would get more grants since I am older now, but I still cannot decide if it is worth it.

This message, coming from such a successful artist, has really helped me solidify my decision to not return to college. Like you said, most artists are introverts who thrive while working alone, which is very true for me. I have stopped posting on here lately due to being discouraged, but I think I will buy some of the recommended books (I've always liked learning at my own pace from textbooks) and start practicing the basics again!! Thank you very much for all the advice Marc! :D
Mephmmb Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
I'm from Costa Rica, we don't have many art schools here, and none that actually focus on comic or digital art specifically, so I had to settle for traditional painting at college.

I have a bachelor's degree, but not even once have I actually used it or needed it. Most of the curriculum was based around contemporary art, so studying the basics and the old masters was not only unusual but frowned upon. We were told that illustration and digital painting are not "real art" and that you can only express yourself through weird, contemporary art.

Lucky for me, I've always thought that's all bullshit, so even before I entered college I looked through deviantArt and other sites where I could learn art and feel that I was actually improving. 
Now, I have a job as a concept artist for a game company and we've published a couple of games, and I work on improving my comics work on my free time, but I feel that's all been thanks to me actually trying to find better alternatives to art school than from completing a checklist that ultimately gives you a piece of paper that says you're an artist now.

I think people should look at art schools more like a stepping stone in your learning process than a be-all and end-all for art.
Cantrona Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think post-secondary education as a whole is a bit of a scam in a lot of cases. There are so many uni graduates I know that still work around minimum wage because it's so hard to break into the industry (any industry).

I think you're doing a really good thing, and it's great that you're giving colleges a competition, but I also think that this issue runs deeper than this. It's a cultural and economic issue we're facing. The population is growing faster than the number of jobs. Inflation is growing faster than salaries. More people than ever are seeing post-secondary education as their only option when really it doesn't help them pull that far ahead of their peers. We're going to dig ourselves into a hole we can't climb out of.

On the whole, I've been super against going to college or uni since my school started shoving the idea of going to university down my throat. I did, however, have to concede and apply for college because I live abroad and can't work without having had a college degree or a job already lined up. That being said, I still very much believe that the education system from primary school to PhD level is broken. Society is changing faster than ever before and education isn't even trying to keep up. 
Randommode Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
Can I just give you 60-200k instead? 
MotorRoach Featured By Owner 3 days ago
Oh my god, yes, someone else who understands the scam that art school is as a whole.

I've just finished graduating from an animation design college course, and frankly, it felt like a complete waste. I expected to at least learn something new, but all I got were a bunch of assignments that I had to go out of my way to learn how to do it myself, and constantly run against the clock to get everything done in time. A lot of the demands were nonsensical and some times had nothing to do with art, and the only assignment that really felt like I was putting my animation skills into test was the final one, which required me to have a finalized short length animated movie, and for some reason, an entire art book to go along with it.

Thankfully I'm not in debt over it, but it still felt like a huge waste of time and money. I'm always keeping everyone around me aware that art school is not worth it at all, and that there are other alternatives to getting good at art. I feel like I could've used all the time wasted in my university by just further improving my skills. On top of that, they haven't done much of an effort to get me any good opportunities for work either, so it didn't feel like my signal was boosted at all.

So yes, don't go to art school.
AquaDreamStudios Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Student Digital Artist
Well, I've blew my Financial Aid on getting a B.A. in Fine Arts... I saw the whole thing on Art school from you, Chris Oatley, Noah Bradley etc in 2015 after i finished university. I'm just grateful for not being in debt. I've literally learned WAY more by doing my own studies nowadays than when I took classes. I feel as if I very much wasted my time because this piece of paper isn't helping me get any jobs or ANYTHING. If there was one thing I've learned, it was just the discipline, but even then my art still looks like crap and now I realize exactly what it takes to succeed. 
Horipon Featured By Owner 6 days ago
I'm in China and reading this with all your replies cheers me up knowing that I'm not alone and China is not the only country has these problems for artists.Gaming industy is just started in China,we have lots of opportunities and traps as well,art education is one of the biggist trapes,people see the benifits the game industry can deal and everybody is trying to get a share,even it means ruining somebody's life.You've heard about China's economy growth and technology development,but not art,simply because government doesn't care about art as long as the economy keeps growing.So the artists are on their own against all the odds on the way to a mature game indutry.
Nylten Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
As somebody who is trying to get into the gaming industry as a concept artist, this advice really helps. I'll be bookmarking this to keep me motivated and hopeful!
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
Dstinct Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2018  Professional Artist
If you want to work at a studio in your own country, it usually isn't worth it, but unless you can get some international recognition by an industry body, it is extremely hard to get a work permit without higher education. If the company uses freelancers, you're set, but bigger studios seem to be cutting down on freelance and going in house. In Canada, there is no way you are getting a job at a Canadian studio unless you are Canadian, have a 4-5 year degree, have 10-12 years experience, or have won a major award an immigration lawyer isn't going to touch you. It's pretty similar in the States based on reports from friends who have gone down for work.
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
It's definitely harder to get a visa without a degree, but having a degree doesn't make it easier to get a job, so that doesn't really help. Also, for Canadians and US people, you can get TN visas to work in the other country, which don't require any degree. (That's what I had when I moved to the US from Canada)

If you have international recognition (which sounds hard to get but it's easier than most would think, for example we've helped sponsor visas for a lot of the contest participants we have on Cubebrush) it's MUCH MUCH MUCH more likely the company will hire you in the first place since bringing someone over from a different country usually costs about $40-50k on average, per head. They'll only hire those they know will bring value to their organization anyways. If they only hire top tier talents then, as a top tier talent, you're way better off working on getting that exposure rather than a degree (granted you're the type of person who learns best on their own rather than in a traditional school environment).

O-1 visas (the ones you're referring to requiring international recognition) can also be obtained with published articles/tutorials/interviews and those are all relatively easy to acheive for artists with the right counseling/direction.

There's just a lot of wasted time in traditional schools, time that could instead be spent working on skills that will help your career, rather than your grades. And then if you're in the US you can add crippling tuition fees to the mix and the degree quickly becomes a ridiculous idea.
0MadWhiteRabbit0 Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I live in Brazil, and all these problems are even worse here.
Not only brazilians in general don't give a s**t about art, but when someone says that works with art, they think we're just lazy people that can't go to a regular college. And the few universities that have art, are more contemporary and modern, and then again, don't giving a s**t about tradicional old style art, which it's the base to understanding anatomy for example.

I felt so dissapoited when I entered the 
university that is considered one of the bests in the country, only to have a teacher say to me that even though my anatomy drawing was wrong, it was just "my style". HELL NO! I was making a mistake and they didn"t help me fixed it! They said that it was fine because it was "unique"! 

I left the 
university not even 4 months later (here the best universities are the public ones, where we have to do a national test to get in, these tests happens all over the country and thousands of universities are in this "program")

I was lucky though, I was able to find a group of people that teach the tradicional and classic art, and in less then an year, I was able to get wayyy better then when I was in this university. They are kind of an "art school", but they're so small that I can't even give the name of school yet.

But yeah, I'm glad to see a professional artist talk about this, and how we can improve on our own. These project will help a lot of people :D
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for sharing! That's definitely the other side of the story where the education is simply not available, which is obviously not much better than it being unaffordable... :(
0MadWhiteRabbit0 Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Exacly :(
glass-arrows Featured By Owner 5 days ago  New Deviant
Also a brazilian, can confirm.

I don't know where you went to university, but I'm not surprised that happened because even if it is considered one of the best, a traditional university is almost always going to be useless to anyone wanting to actually become a serious professional artist. 

Art is a completely separate world with completely different rules for getting in compared to most people's traditional idea of employment and careers: degrees don't matter, you can work freelance, and you can get all the qualifications to get in by staying at your house and studying on your own. Because artists are practically a "secret society" of their own and our education about art is so poor, it's often a very difficult career path to follow because your parents or relatives won't necessarily be very understanding and you'll basically have to learn about everything you need to do on your own.

The only real institution I know of that might be worthwhile down here is ICS in São Paulo. They have actual, trained professional artists as teachers like Mike Azevedo (a skilled painter who works for Riot Games) and Paulo Ignez (an animator and character designer who's worked for Disney on Princess and the Frog and Proud Family). I've never been there and have never spoken to any students but if you were to go to a big school it seems like the best bet to me.
0MadWhiteRabbit0 Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I went to the "big" UFRJ in Rio, and I felt very dissapointed with what I found there.

I know that in SP art it's taken a little more serious, but it's still hard to find a good institution with good teachers.

By they way, the definition of "secret society" for us artists it's ironacly pretty good xD
rei-kaa Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2018  Student Digital Artist
It took me maybe 3 years to realize I didn't need art school and I've went to the wrong kind of art school. 

I went to a contemporary art school where we don't learn much about drawing but the contemporary art scene.

So now maybe after graduating from this school I will look for some intense digital art course that focuses on training essential skills for the digital art industry.   

Apart from the art school I started to stick to doing digital painting everyday, to try to spend 3 hours on it everyday, so when i graduate and look for a digital art course I'm all prepared to refine my skills rather than falling behind.

My parents always think you need a degree to get a job but now I see in the digital art industry they want your art skills and ability. It's not the qualification it's all about how much you can do. 

It's a bit late to leave my school and it's quite late to have realize this xD
I could have really went to a different school but I was too young to know what is really for me... opps
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah.. :( We always depend on adults to help guide us when we're younger making all those difficult choices with limited information, so it doesn't help parents and teachers/counselors themselves have no idea what they are talking about. The only valid input you can get is always going to be from a working professional with a lot of experience, which unfortunately is not something most teachers ever were, otherwise they would still be doing it, at least on the side. The industry today is nothing like it was just 10 years ago so if the goal is to be a working professional, better make sure you're learning from someone with up to date knowledge.

There ARE a few teachers here and there that are actual working pros however, but that's quite rare.

It's awesome that you're spending a lot of time on your own though, that's critical to success (even if you're attending school, any school) but so few art students do it.
rei-kaa Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Student Digital Artist
Been researching about digital art courses and I already have a few that I'm really interested in. 
I feel like self-taught is making slow progress so my last option will be going for these :>
The class schedule is really packed, classes 6 days a week and about 8-9 hours per day, but I feel like I can learn a lot there, just need to work on a part time job to get enough money for the course and living costs. But right now I need to finish my last year's art degree, still got time to plan ahead ^^
In between these time I'm doing artist alley too, and will just stick with the drawing routine everyday as much as I can. 
Thanks for the article!
nonanut Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2018  Professional General Artist
Thanks, I feel a lot better about this. I was told there's "no jobs" with art school degrees and wasn't allowed to transfer out- by my own community college's counselor no less, who is an art professor! It was, still is, embittering. However, I have never had a solid opportunity as an artist so I've been freelancing this entire time from home. It's all I've got.
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
Cheers! The only job you need an art degree for would be if you wanted to become a teacher at a traditional school ;) Otherwise, there are TONS of jobs for artists and none require degrees, only a good portfolio.
nonanut Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Professional General Artist
That's good news. :) I haven't found any art jobs yet, but here's to hoping at some point in the future.
Pramis Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2018  Student Filmographer

this is gonna be a long reply.

To star with I didnt go to art school but to animation school. And I also live in Norway so the student loan is'nt that bad as it can be or is other places.
And for my part it was the best years in school for me, not from an educationnal view as much as a personal view.

Yes there was a lot that I dident learn, but what I learn was structure, to ask for help when I needed and to look for info where ever I could.

As for the personal view, I suffer from social anxiety and depresion, and if I had stayed at home I don't know where I would be now or if I would still be alive.
So the school helped me alot and made me grow not just as an artist but as a person to.

And a few points.

1: A problem school has is that they can't teach you all you need, they can get you started but you have to do alot more your self, and school don't tell you that, and young people get foold in to thinking that they do.
And then gets upset when they understand that this is not gonna make you a professional in the time that you are there.

2: There isent any good way to judge if the school is any good for you. People either has a very positive experience or a very negative one so it's hard to find one that fits you.

3: Alot of people that write the " Should you go to () School", "Is () School worth it?" or "Don't go to () School", tend to have a one sided view on the subject, where school is the worst thing in the world and they just want money. Then at the end try to sell their own courses/classes.

To that I would say, your experience gonna differ fro school to school, teacher to teacher, year to year. And yes they would like to get your money they run a buisniss. And for plugging your own courses/classes everyoen need's to live and it's fine.
As for this post Marc did a real nice job not being all negative about schools and offer up more solutionens than other simelar post that I have seen, so well done.

4: About study groups, classes and meet up's etc...
it's not that easy for everyone, for me there is no one near me, I would have to drive for about 12 hours to the one closest to me. There where some after noon classes about 3-4 hours drive, I don't know if they are any more and I would need to find a place to stay for the days that I would be there.
Non of those are vaieble for me, it might be for someone else but not me.

About Google hangout and stream's, if you are like me and strugle with anxiety going in to a hangout/stream/discord is very scary it's a very ailen enviroment if you come in to it as a new person.
And it might discurage you from talking or shearing your work.

And the last bit.

To grow as an aritst you need feedback, you need to show other people what you do for them to be able to tell you how to improv.
As well meaning people are writen feedback might not conway what that person meant in a way that is helpful.

Having someone that can talk to you and give you a verbal feedback is better.

There are those that offer mentorship with assignment and verbal feedback as well as they show you where you can improve and where you did good, but they tend to be expencive.

As for now there is not solution that work for everyone and the best thing you could do is to find out what's best option for you, and remember that if you choose to go to a school or online courses you need to do work outside of that.
there isnt a single one that would give you all that you need.

That's it from me, hope it wasent that messy.
schlach-uffn-kopp Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Going to art school is probably my biggest regret ever. I did learn a lot, yes, but the degree hasn't helped me in finding a job in visdev or concept art so far and the school does exactly ZERO to support it's alumni networking-wise. All it got me is a lot of debt and sorrow.

I took a look at your curriculum and it is absolutely amazing and really affordable. It is currently no option for me though, but I wish you all the success with that programm, I really think it is a good thing. :heart:
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Gahh sorry to hear about it but thanks a lot for sharing - it's super important that information gets out there.

And thanks for checking out the course and for the nice comment!
schlach-uffn-kopp Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you :heart: You're very welcome.
superpower-pnut Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2018
This was rather helpful.  I've always wanted to have an art degree, but paying off my loans for my BA has made me gun-shy to say the least.  
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
superpower-pnut Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2018
Yeah, it's a real shame - if only I could go to one of the colleges and enroll into the art classes w/o all the rigmarole of it all.  
SylveriaDreams Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for sharing this! I graduated from college where I studied fine art and game design. However, my college education did not help me grow as an artist. I was unaware of how my bad portfolio was when I graduated and I didn't know how to improve or if it was even possible! At the time that I graduated, there wasn't a lot of information out there on game art, so learning how to create stylized game art was a mystery.

I've been focusing heavily on my art the past four years and have levelled up a lot thanks to professional artists such as yourself - who have taken the time to share their knowledge and workflows on the internet. I haven't "made it" yet but your tutorials and videos have helped me the most. :) 
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for sharing Leigh-Ann, and sorry to hear yet another story like this :(

(also thanks for the kind words 😊!!)

And you did level up significantly, your latest props look awesome. I don't know if you do already but I'd try working from existing concepts like In a studio environment, that's likely how it's gonna go so might as well start early! If you can add about a dozen more to your portfolio, I wouldn't be surprised if you landed a job soon. 
SylveriaDreams Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome! :)

Thanks for the encouraging words about my art! :) I have been coming up with my own designs to try to help my portfolio stand out. It does take a little longer to finish projects since I am trying to come up with my own designs. I saved the artstation portfolio you linked. It might be nice to take a break from designing my own concepts and work from an existing concept between my personal art projects. At the moment, I'm focusing on creating art to fill my portfolio so that I have a better chance at landing job. I did get super close recently and almost landed a gig at an AAA studio. I'll add a dozen more to my portfolio like you suggested before I try to apply again. 
Fox-Candy Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
In the UK going to university doesn't teach you art skills, it teaches you how to get into the industry, and without skills or a strong portfolio its not very good Sweating a little... 
Si3art Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2018  Student Traditional Artist
Reading this just makes me sad that the main reason why artists are encouraging not to go to art school are the cost and loans... Or more precisely, that it costs so much that students have to take a loan... I'm... not sure if this is an Europe thing or just the country where I'm at, but here you don't have to pay any tuition fees for art school/colleges if you get accepted. The only thing to worry about are the living costs and art supplies. ... the same costs if one chose to be just self taught...

I've only been to art schools, currently getting a masters degree. Overall all the courses, critiques and different views have helped a ton to improve and involve quite a lot of projects, techniques, materials and machines I wouldn't have access to otherwise plus it's motivating to put more effort in a small like minded group. The only thing I regret is that there hasn't been enough about how to be sufficient self employed artist and make a legit business. :/ 
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
What's worse is student debt in the US never goes away, not even after bankruptcy - it's a massive problem here.
Ssyrie Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2018
For those prices you might as well get an art degree at a real college. Then if the art thing doesn't work out you at least have a legit bachelors degree that can help get non art jobs. There are plenty of jobs out there that won't even give you an interview if you don't have at least a bachelors degree in something. And the crazy part is that plenty of those jobs will still have to train you for the job in question, so previous experience might not even be a consideration.
wesker991 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lillendandie Featured By Owner Edited Apr 13, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for telling people the truth. When I was 18, I made the mistake in thinking it's the schools that make you into an artist. I was wrong. You would think some of these online programs are shady, but truly you can learn so much from a successful working artist. Just from YouTube you might learn more than from a brick and mortar school.

Aside from placement expectations, this is probably the biggest lie/misconception floating around. You do not need a degree to get hired, ever. At this point you might have realized it based on the fact most pros don't have any like I just mentioned, but it's something art schools and misinformed parents keep repeating to students and it couldn't be further from the truth, and it actually ruins the lives of many as a result.

I can attest this is absolutely true. If you are looking at schools, please remember, not all schools are created equal. Many US schools are diploma mills pretending to be respectable institutions.
sa-ryong Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018
There's a lot of people sharing their stories here already, but I'll add mine to the pile as well. I went to art school, for the whole shebang. The art program was so poorly organised that I ended up needing to take summer classes on top of an extra semester to graduate. They required specific classes to qualify for graduation, but didn't offer enough of those classes a semester to cater to all of the students that needed them. I wasn't the only one that had to put in extra time, despite having good grades and working my butt off.

After graduation I figured it was time to start making my way as a professional. Since I had the degree and a boat load of student loans to pay I didn't want to waste any time. Eventually I managed to get my work in front of some professionals, and the result was brutal. I've never had my work so savagely torn apart, piece by piece it seemed like everything I did was wrong. It was both extremely harsh and depressing, but after a couple of days of wallowing, I also realised that it was the most comprehensive and helpful critique I ever received. The twenty minutes those two took to destroy months of hard work was worth more than all the time I spent in school, and it was completely free. After that critique I knew what I needed to do to be better, and how much harder I needed to work. It also made me realise how much time I had wasted, and how worthless my degree was.
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for sharing! One important aspect that schools often completely overlook is portfolio direction. If you're applying somewhere, that studio expects you to have portfolio pieces that are relevant to them. For example if you're applying to Blizzard, you're obviously expected to have some Blizzard fanart, and a ton of art in the Blizzard style, or similar. I always recommend to look at portfolios from actual artists working there, and try emulating them as best as possible. They got the job thanks to theirs after all.

Your art is really good, I don't know what portfolio you use/used to apply with but just make sure you adjust/tweak it depending on where you apply ;)
sa-ryong Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018
Haha, you are too kind. That portfolio was years ago, it's taken a lot of time and effort to get to where I am now from then. If your program was up and running back when I was fresh out of art school I would have signed up in a heartbeat. That portfolio review session proved to me how valuable direct feedback is from people in the field you're interested is. It also gave me a view of what real constructive criticism is like, and how much is should be cherished. It might be something that was specific to my particular art school, but all of the critique sessions were terrible. The teachers were too disengaged to really give any feedback and the other students were't confident enough to say anything that might be come off as too harsh. It's really obvious now, but I wish someone would have just told me how important fundamental figure drawing was back then.
TwistedFaeri Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I had wanted to go to art school originally when I was straight out of high school. However, my old folks had talked me out of it because they didn't see art as a job. Last year I start going back to school for accounting, because it was an actual career choice, but now that video games and cartoons are becoming more popular, my old folks had tried to get me to go to art school. Haha. I'm happy I didn't though, even without the education, my skills have gotten better for both traditional and digital art, and you're right! There are so many books and platforms that can help you improve you art on your own without spending all of that money. But now that I know you don't need a degree for art, and you can still apply, I may do that. I think it would be nice to know where my art stands in the industries eyes. That's literally the only thing that has stopped my from applying, was that degree haha!
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Even before applying, try opening commissions here on DA, see the kind of interest your art gets when money is involved, this is a super good indication of how well your applications will go. Plus that alone can be quite lucrative as the demand increases and you're able to charge more. This was really the spark for me and as my popularity on DA went from 20k views to 30-40-50-100k I was able to charge more and more and made really good money with that alone. From there it only gets better, with bigger opportunities.

It's a great soft transition to doing this full time if that's what you want eventually :)
Drizzerey Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018  Professional General Artist
So I got a job as a lead Graphics Coordinator to make lapel pin designs. I beat out others with degrees in this field and I had 0 experience using the art program they used(I had to be trained)

Reason I was chosen out of those guys? Cause I had artistic nudes in my portfolio and I worked dirty jobs in my previous employment history. The guy hiring didn't want a diva who would refuse to do artwork and we do our own cleaning so he also didn't want someone who would scoff at cleaning a toilet (we rotate chores and we are a small company but still) 

These are things to keep in mind. I honestly had no business getting this job as compared to people who trained with the art program and had the schooling to back it up. I got chosen because they had bad experiences with art school kids causing drama in the work place and having a bad work ethic.
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Lol, awesome. Well except cleaning the toilet part!
Drizzerey Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2018  Professional General Artist
ain't so bad lol, it's like once a month cause of how we rotate.
foxwafflesdraws Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018
Head's up, I'm American, a lot of this does not apply to those outside of the US. Long rant incoming after seeing this happen to way too many of my friends. Please don't be them, seeing their struggles breaks my heart.

I went through the animation program at my state's public university. Tuition was about 10K a year since I was a commuter student.

The university's Design college was said to be on par with many private universities, and I can see where it gets its name. But even though I paid less than one year of tuition at private school for 3.5 years of my education, what a waste of fucking money. The only things I got out of it were meeting TWO instructors that I got along well with, not having to be in a long-distance relationship with my fiance, and meeting one friend who we are basically friends for life. It killed my creativity, taught me nothing about actual technique, just constant "you need to learn the design process and use the design process and learn design thinking". What about actually learning how to draw and paint on a tablet in Photoshop? None of that. Probably because it was a state university and animation was a new program but knowing that the core curriculum was still a pretty good curriculum in a nutshell it's not worth it to go private unless you get a full ride or an extremely substantial scholarship.

Hell, Kansas City Arts Institute gave me 85,000 dollars of financial aid but their annual tuition is about 65K. That would still leave me with over 30K a year for me and my parents to foot. NO. With the exploding costs of college tuition and stagnating wages, plus the courseload making it difficult to work part-time, don't go private!!! If you do aim for it, try to get as much financial aid as you can. DO NOT TAKE LOANS. FOR GOD'S SAKE, I have seen them RUIN my classmates. DO. NOT. TAKE. LOANS.

A community college is far cheaper and in the meantime you can subscribe to programs like Schoolism for the same price as Netflix and learn that way. Attend workshops and go to local conventions and attend panels there. Just draw A LOT. It's not the quality of the drawings that you practice that matter, it's sheer quantity. The class I took at school where I most improved as taught by an industrial designer and he focused on improving through rote repetition. We did over 100 quick sketches each class and homework was equally staggering. But holy hell it worked. Seek out work opportunities. For example you could find indie game studios on your area or that offer work remote opportunities. There's a high chance it will be unpaid but resume + portfolio > degree. Or you could work with local art museums, the possibilities really are endless.

If your public state university has some sort of design program but it's "state funded so what if it isn't as good"? It's not the quality of the program, it's you. If the program itself isn't going to teach you every little thing you need then you will need to make it a priority to find those resources on the internet and teach yourself. Again I personally love Schoolism, I also frequently look at ConceptCookie's stuff, Ctrl+Paint provides bite-sized videos plus affordable curriculum you can buy and own yourself, the possibilities are endless.

This is just me ranting about colleges in general...less art-school related but still relevant right now.

But yeah. The state of education in America right now is a fucking pitiful dumpster fire. It doesn't matter how good your education is, college is becoming more and more worthless these days overall because of how much debt it drops you into and how little starting salaries are tending towards, combined with ever-increasing rent and health insurance prices. Ever heard of people getting ruined by their credit card debt? Yeah. That'll be you. I'm sorry but "Education is worth the money" is no longer true in this country. It is not ever worth the amount of debt you will take on. Not. Ever. Don't do that to yourself or your family. One friend of mine went to community college, paid very little. Then he transferred to a public state university and majored in computer science. Every summer he applied with furor for internships. In the end, he graduated with a job and no debt. A lot of his family made fun of him for going to "stupid people school" when he was in community college, but now he's got the last laugh, his cousin has student debt and the family is having to swoop in and save him. 

Seek out public state institutions or community colleges. Or go to a trade school and learn on the side. My friend's fiance just got apprenticed under an electrician. He's on the fast track to making more than many of my college graduate friends without paying a dime except his toolkit, and he already knows enough that he is our house fixer-upper meaning he makes additional side income. In a decade if he remains committed he won't even have to work a full 40 hours a week for a fully liveable income.
Lillendandie Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
MarcBrunet Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
This. Thanks for sharing!
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