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Going to School to Become a Professional Artist Well Spent Money or Well Known Waste?



Becoming an artist is easy, just draw a picture, play a note on your musical instrument, turn the clay into your hand into a shape, write out a short story regardless of quality if you can do any of that you are qualified to be an artist. Becoming a good artist, well that's just a matter of learning to produce good quality art. Becoming a professional artist that's just a matter of selling your artwork. If you've sold one single piece than you can be called a professional artist, regardless of the quality of that art.

As I was going through high school almost everyone talked about going to college and getting four year degree as the minimum to make a living that would fully pay for food, rent, cloths, and transportation. The irony of which is that there are plenty college graduates that are homeless, and yet we've all heard stories of people who dropped out of school in high school, or even younger who are rich. But it didn't stop our college educated teachers who's education did little if anything to enhance their performance as teachers from telling us that we should all go and get degrees that in at least some if not most lines of work will cost us $10 dollars for every $5 dollars we make in our lives, and in other lines of work, among which are the arts, won't make us increase our income in any way.

So to be an artist is going to school really worth it? Well any artist can benefit from learning new techniques, different creativity exorcises, and getting a little constructive criticism. One way to do this is to go to school, a person could also take a workshop completely independent of the school system, read or watch a tutorial on a website I've been learning from tutorials other people have written online long before I was writing tutorials on my website which are freely available from many websites. Going to school to be an artist, well I won't say that you can't learn something useful, but I will go as far as to suggest that at least some of that is stuff that might be useful you can learn for free online, or learn at a lesser cost from other sources, or while having a better experience at a work shop.

Over all improving your skills can increase the quality of your artwork, but that is no guarantee that your art will sell better. To become a professional artist the level of quality needed is a matter of how much it will sell. Making money as a professional artist is about selling your artwork to someone who is willing to pay for it, which can be done in a verity of ways both online and offline. Better quality art is a good thing but one look through a modern art museum and you'll see proof that poor quality can still sell.

What does an degree in the gain really gain an artist?

To answer this I am going to tell you about two artists one is a woman I know, and the other is myself. She and I made two very different choices about how to pursue our careers.

One woman I know who has dreamed for years of writing books for a living since she was a preteen (if not younger) when she started college she was an English, major and as far as I know has seriously considered double majoring with her other major being in the sciences because she realized an that English degree wasn't going to help her get very far ahead as in the world. In her case her parents were willing to pick up the tab so that's between them and her, but here's the thing, if she were serious about being a writer then what's stopping her from sitting down and writing something? It's fine if she feels she needs to take a class because she thinks she needs to learn something she doesn't know well that's understandable. But in all honest what will that degree really get her, the quick answer is a lot less than the value of the money that was paid for it.

On the other hand I graduated high school planning to go into the computer IT field, I will openly admit that college was never an option for me, my entire education had been such a terrible situation for me in, I decided that pursing spending any time in the classroom beyond high school in the was essentially a form of masochism. Don't get me wrong if on the job training, or some kind of apprenticeship or internship program were an option in the for a job I could actually learn to do without having to pursue some kind of college degree I would have been happy to pursue it, I would have flourished in a situation like that, as a matter of fact I looked for one. But I couldn't find anything that would give training unless going back to school was an option, so with no degree, no training beyond the art classes I took in middle and high school, no certifications, no formal credentials of any kind I simply started drawing, learned about how I could sell my artwork online, and if you are reading this than you can guess the end of that story. Having a formal education in the arts would not have made me a better artist, but constantly working at improving my existing skills can make me a better artist.

So is that art degree money well spent or just a well know waste of money?

The bottom line when deciding how best to pursue a career in the arts is that while training on techniques that help you increase the quality of your artwork in general is a good thing, the bottom line is that any education of any kind is an investment like and in that regard no different than buying stocks, bonds, real-estate, commodities, and precious metals if you paid $500 total and it only ever results in you making $495 more than you would have if you didn't make that $500 investment it's a bad investment, on the other hand if that same $500 total only ever results in you making $505 more than you would have otherwise it was a good investment. As a business investment an art degree very likely to end up being bad business, on the other hand taking individual classes focused on improving the skills they are using as part of their vocation (for example a painter taking only about painting classes) have a better chance of being good investment as long as what they are producing sells.

If people want to spend their own time and their own money for to get a degree in English, or literature, or history, or the arts just for no other reason than they want to learn more about those subjects, well then it's their money, it's their time I'm not going to tell them how to spend it, and they should by all means go for it. But if you are getting a degree with your own money and taking out tens of thousands or worse yet hundreds thousands of dollars in student loans that you might never be able to pay back while somebody else (such as the tax payers) pick up the tab, well that is a very wasteful form of theft.
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