An Art School Survival Guide

So you’ve chosen your school, paid your tuition, and are headed off to art school. Well, there’s no turning back now. No matter what type of school you plan to attend, whether it be film, animation, or 3d; here are some things you should really know before you get there.art school tips

Art School Costs Money

You may be paying per semester or in one lump sum, but your tuition will be the last of your worries. Here’s a list of other financial demands that you should plan for.

  • Cost of living: Many of you will be moving to another location to study. Living with roommates will probably offset some of the bills you will have to pay, i.e rent, hydro, cable, but the cost of living in Vancouver is extremely high. Be ready to sacrifice some of the things you may be accustomed to while living in another city.
  • Equipment: Although many programs include equipment in the tuition, it could be that you are renting instead of owning. If that is the case, you will be sharing equipment with the rest of your class, and possibly the entire school. There will be strict schedules to abide by and fees for those who do not return equipment on time. One of the better options is to purchase the most essential equipment for yourself. If you’re serious about your trade; animation tables or high end computers will eventually pay for themselves. The amount of extra time you will have to work on your skills will be evident compared to your peers.
  • Student loans: A student loan may be easy to get, but it’s incredibly hard to get rid of. For those that have opted to take out student loans, know the consequences beforehand. It could take years, even decades for you to pay off. Often students will forget about their loans during the school year, as there is no interest or payments that need to be made. However once you graduate, get ready to start making monthly payments on a regular basis. If you’re under the age of 18, chances are you will have to co-sign with your guardian which holds them liable for repayment. We cannot urge parents and students enough to do their due diligence and research if a student loan is really best option. It is a huge obligation, and for many they’re not ready for it.

Learning on your own is the key to being successful in the art industry. It is the key to being successful in anything.

Learn Your Craft Beforehand

What art students really pay for is time. For many, that time is spent learning Photoshop, Illustrator, or After Effects. Imagine the one student who has learned the programs on his own; not every minute detail, but enough so that he feels comfortable. Instead of constantly trying to find the brush tool on the toolbar, he’s working on an amazing portfolio piece. Learning on your own is the key to being successful in the art industry. It is the key to being successful in anything. And it isn’t all just technical. If you’re going into film, watch a movie every day. Dissect it scene by scene, frame by frame. The same goes for animation students. Draw something, anything. Don’t go to art school just to learn, go there to create. Have amazing ideas, and when you’re in school make them come into fruition. There will be few chances in your life that you will have the same amount of time to be creative.

People Are Going To Get On Your Nerves

There is something about art school students that will irk you. They are critical, in your face, and sometimes just plain weird. Get used to it; you are going to be spending a lot of time with them. The first thing you should do when you get to art school is find out who’s good at what they do. Although, this may seem quite difficult; it will prove invaluable in your student career. Sooner or later, you are going to work in groups. And when you are stuck with people who don’t even know why they are in art school, you’d wish you took this advice. If you do, you will be a part of a core group of students who always produces good work. The old adage rings true, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

Such tours are invaluable in the sense that it will give you first hand knowledge of what you’re getting yourself into.

Get to Know Your School

If you live in the same city as your school, you already have an advantage. It takes some time to get acclimated to your new environment and there are two things that you should really do before attending the school: take a tour and audit a class. All schools should provide tours either at the beginning of each school semester or when specifically asked. Such tours are invaluable in the sense that it will give you first hand knowledge of what you’re getting yourself into. Any questions answered there will be much more relevant than any email or phone conversations you will have.

If you’re persistent enough, some schools will even allow you to audit a class. Maybe not the entire class, but long enough for you to see the standard of teaching involved. For some universities, their first year classes will have two to three hundred students. We can’t condone what we would say next, but I’m sure you can guess what it is, sneak in. Nonetheless, if you are able to get to the school, take the time to speak with teachers and students. Ask them what the school does well, and what you can expect to learn from it. More often then not, they will be glad to share their experiences.

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