Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is Art School Worth it?

In case you haven't seen my post over on Muddy Colors. I think this is an important issue to consider. There are also some great comments to read. Would love to hear your thoughts.

First off, I'm not downing formal education. I'm just asking if it's worth getting into $120 thousand dollars worth of debt not to mention the interest for four to six years of college. Especially in our current economic state.

So what does school offer us? Hopefully, teachers and peers who can assist in pushing us to be better than we are(ultimately we have to be our hardest critic). There's also access to facilities and opportunities to produce and experiment in. But these are really just opportunities the student can take advantage of not. You can't force someone to get better. It's a choice to pursue, a decision to push ourselves, to be on time with assignments, to stay after class to finish the still life or do extra reading etc. There's an intrinsic incentive for us to master the craft of our choice. We all know of self trained painters, illustrators, and musicians who are amazing at what they do.

Today we have more access to information than ever before. Let's list some:

- illustration tutorials on dvd that deal with technique process, business aspects etc
- illustration workshops like "Illustration Masters Class" where you may pay a fee for a professional ass kicking and intensely constructive experience.
- art books, the library is free
- video demos online( learned a lot about Photoshop from CMYKilla)
- all types of online art forums where one can get critical feedback from the art community of the world(take everything with a grain of salt}
- art blogs, personal and collective... I'd list some but I'm blanking out right now.
- attending conventions, lectures, and demos to observe, ask questions, and get feed back from professionals
- taking advantage of museums and galleries to view original works
- online classes such as "Schoolism"
- private internships
- You can also find the contact information of your favorite artist and ask some specific questions. I try to answer as many as I can fit into my schedule as well as email others for advice.

Thankfully, there are scholarships to help kids with paying for school. I could be wrong but I would assume the kids who get the scholarships are the same kids who are drawing and producing art even when they don't have to because they want to get better.

Even if you were interested in a Masters Program you could look up the list of professors that you would be learning from and read up on literature written by said professors.

My point is there is an abundance of information out there. You have the same options you have in art school. You can take it or leave it. The choice is yours. We all know people in school who didn't take the time to do the work. School is only as good as you make it. Going to the best art school doesn't make the best artist.

Is staying at home or even with some of your art buddies and learning/practicing via these alternative methods(the same methods artists use even after graduating college)as good as going to an art school? Maybe not. Maybe so and it's just a different learning experience minus the debt. Again, it depends on how much the individual is putting into mastering their craft. The art school environment is great and if art school wasn't so expensive I wouldn't be writing this blog post. Can you get educated for a lot less than it cost to attend art school? What are your personal school experiences/regrets? Would you do it differently if you could?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Question About Rates...X Rated

Hi Eric,

My name is X and I'm a recent XXX grad working in X. We've met a couple times before and I was wondering if you might be able to answer a question for me. Since graduating I've mostly been doing work for various collectible card games and board games which tend to dictate up front just how much they're going to pay you. But I have a sci-fi publisher (XXX Books) asking how much I charge for cover work, and the question has thrown me off a bit. If you don't mind my asking, what do you charge for cover work? I'm certainly not looking to compare my work to yours, but I don't want to lowball myself or undercut the market either. In any case, any light you could shed on the subject would be extremely helpful. Thanks in advance and have a great day!


Professional Artist and Illustrator
123 X St., Apt X
X, X 43202

Hi X,

Publishers usually pay somewhere between $1500-4000 for a cover. Depending on how interested you are in the job, how much artistic freedom you get, how quick the turn around is, or how much exposure you'll get(is this a well known publisher?), you may feel inclined to charge more or be willing to do it for less. I'm usually willing to work with a lower budget if I get the opportunity to have some freedom and do a really strong piece for myself. Hopefully, you can do the good work and get paid top dollar.

An art director will usually give you the info when they inquire about your availability ie budget, deadline, size etc. If they don't give you any of the info don't be afraid to ask.

"Hi Art Dir X,
Thanks for contacting me. I'm looking forward to working with you on this project. Could you please provide the synopsis, deadline, size, and budget for this job?"

Something simple like that or however you want to address it. But getting the information is a must before signing on to a job. That way you can make the most informed decision.
Also, I would take the "Professional" out of your title. It is assumed that you are already a professional. You don't want it to look as if you're overcompensating for lack of work. I'm not sure you need to give your addy or phone # either unless asked. I like it nice and simple. Just my opinion. You should also make your website a live link so it's easy for anyone to just click on it as opposed to copying and pasting.

Hope that helps,


Any other tips? please post them:)