TEN MYTHS ABOUT ARTISTS#10: You Have to Go to Art School to Be a Real Artist

MYTH: You need an MFA to be a real artist!
REALITY: The real proof is in the work.

I couldn’t get into the art school at the university of my choice (The University of Michigan.) So maybe my attitude about art school is pure sour grapes.

On the other hand, the reasons I chose U of M seem pretty silly in 40 years in hindsight. My best friend, my first boy friend and my first crush all went there, and they said it was the best school in the world.

So I wanted to go there, too. I gave up going to other schools with art programs that had accepted me, just to be with the boy who dumped me four months later.

I hope I’m a little more sophisticated about my choices now. (But I’m probably not.)

I’ve come to believe it’s a good thing I didn’t go to art school there (or anywhere.) I may have been an artist sooner.

But I would not be the artist I am today.

Getting a degree from an art school has its advantages.

Credentials, for one. A degree says you completed a course of study. It says somebody deemed you good enough to complete it successfully.

Art school gives you other precious gifts: Time, tools and resources to actually make art. You have many opportunities to experiment with different media and different techniques. Many students develop important relationships with teachers who become mentors, and with other talented students.

Art school also allows you to immerse yourself in a community that supports art. If you come from a family or environment that’s baffled (or even threatened) by your artistic attempts, this immersion can be powerful stuff. You may feel like you’ve finally found “your people”.

And of course, there is the confidence and validation you gain from holding a degree that proclaims you an artist.

But there is a downside to art school.

You spend a huge amount of time making work that fits someone else’s agenda and criteria, not your own.

You may find it hard to develop your own style. You are surrounded by the vision of other teachers and other students, and it can be hard to figure out what your particular vision is.

Or conversely, it’s all too easy to be influenced by the vision of others.

Or your vision doesn’t get the “strokes” from the group you desire, so you unconsciously begin to modify it so it does.

Or you don’t modify your style, and suffer the consequences We’ve all heard the appalling stories of vicious group “critiques” and the lasting emotional damage they can cause. We’ve all heard of the nasty teacher who never missed an opportunity to denigrate someone’s work.

You may fall for the tendency to make high-falutin’, theoretical, worldly/academic “statements” with your art. Read almost any art statement, preferably one you barely understand, and you’ll know what I mean. The actual approach to your art may be taught as a purely intellectual or academic exercise. There is value to understanding and practicing art this way, of course. But I personally feel something is lost when art is made only to provoke, or satirize, or insult, with no real emotional connection, personal experience, or “heart” in the effort. IMHO, of course.

And the biggest drawback–you may not ever actually encounter any working artists.

I once spent a day giving five high-school art classes a presentation of the business of art. I opened the first class with this question: “How many of you believe it is impossible to make a living by selling your art?”

The teacher raised her hand.

Some people who teach art do so because they don’t believe they can be successful selling it. (Though many teach so they can have the freedom to create the art they want, without worrying about having selling it.)

You can often tell which teachers are working artists and which ones aren’t. The working ones are making their art, at some level–entering exhibitions with new work, selling, taking commissions, whatever. The ones who gave up are telling you why it’s impossible to sell your work. These are the ones who make terrible role models.

Almost as bad are the teachers who convince their students that the art world is out there just waiting for them to graduate. Instant success is within their grasp. Famous galleries in New York City are eager for their work, and the party starts as soon as you walk out the door. Then, when it doesn’t happen in six months, or a year, or three, the new grad begins to think she doesn’t have what it takes–and gives up.

Some art schools now incorporate business skills for artists in their curriculum. Yay!

Either way, the art school experience can make the issue black-and-white. There are “artists” and there are “non-artists”. There are “rich/famous/successful” artists, and there are “failed artists”. No gray. No spectrum. No range.

Know that there are many “levels” of keeping art in our lives.

There are as many ways of making that work as there are artists.

Some will make good money with their pursuits. Others will cobble together different ventures and venues that makes them happy. Some will go into fine art. Some will go into design, or graphic arts. Some may teach. Some may do the show circuit. Some may find gallery representation. Others may find ways of using the internet to market directly to customers.

Some may find other work that is rewarding and makes them happy, and keep their art practice solely for their own enjoyment. And some will run up against life’s hard walls all too soon, and have to carve out tiny chunks of time to keep their vision alive.

Maybe we can’t all be rich and famous. But there are many ways to create a life that includes art as a daily practice. And there many ways of sharing our vision with others.

So go to art school, if that is your dream. Squeeze every drop of experience and knowledge you can from it. Revel in your freedom to immerse yourself in an art community. Learn to protect yourself against the nay-sayers.

But if you didn’t go to art school, know that you simply found your life’s work by another path. It may have wound around in the woods for awhile, it may have taken you longer to get here….

But you simply had a different experience. That’s all.

And those unique experiences are what made you the artist you are today.

UPDATE: See what Canadian painter Robert Genn says about artist credentials in his well-known Painters Keys newsletter.

ANOTHER UPDATE: So embarrassed that I missed this for YEARS, but I just found a powerful video/poem by Beth Murch, who says she was inspired by this article! So, proof positive that when we share the work of our heart, our unique vision, with the world, it will cross the path of someone who needs/wants to see it. It’s like tossing a pebble into a great lake. We may not see where the ripples go, but they are there. Thank you, Beth!

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

46 thoughts on “TEN MYTHS ABOUT ARTISTS#10: You Have to Go to Art School to Be a Real Artist”

  1. Oh. My. Goodness.
    Luann, you have really spoken directly to my heart today. I used to rail against the notion that I was an artist. After all I had all the classic symptoms of believing every single one of your myths. An artist friend of mine insisted on it. I balked. After all, I didn’t starve, have addiction problems, go to a fancy art school, get represented in large art markets. I was simply someone who saw things with an artistic eye, but I would insist that I wasn’t an artist. As if that were a bad thing.
    “I’ve come to believe it’s a good thing I didn’t go to art school there (or anywhere.) I may have been an artist sooner.

    But I would not be the artist I am today.”

    I may have been an artist sooner, but not the artist that I am today. Thank you for that insightful statement! Perhaps finding my art so late has been the exact thing that I needed. I am more confident and sure of myself, and not bound by what I supposedly can and can’t do. I am inventing my own concepts of art and that is what an artist does.

    Again, I thank you for all these articles. I will come back to them frequently to remind myself of the silliness of the myths and how they do not apply to me!

    Enjoy the day!


    1. Hi, I know this post was written a long time ago, but I truly agree with 100%!! My talent as an artist was singing and I was truly excited the day I was accepted into a performing arts high school for my talent. It was an exciting day when I got there, but suddenly everything turned upside down. My vocal teacher RUINED my voice by making me sing the way “he” wanted me to sing. My vocal cords were those of soul and beautifully put together, but ever since I attended that school I lost all soul from my voice and was stripped of what made my voice “me.” Of course everyone went on to attend big music schools while I went to the local university to study something completely different which was pre-med. Those same people that went to their big music schools now hates them while I finally come back to the place where I have found my voice back. To those reading this, you don’t have to go to some art school to be an artist. Being inspired to do your own thing on your own terms is the beginning to making a way for yourself! 🙂 Thanks for this post!!


  2. Well, Erin & Kathleen, I’m just at a point in my life where I realize, if something has sidetracked me, it’s probably sidetracked someone else, too.

    And if I’ve found a way around it or through it that’s helped me, it could perhaps help someone else, too. :^)

    As always, if there’s something you think is not helpful, let me know. And if there’s something you think IS helpful, let everyone else know! :^D

    Thank you both for writing, much appreciated!


  3. Good stuff Luann!

    As another artist-who-didn’t-go-to-art-school, I’ve found the biggest issue it causes me is the sense I get that I’m viewed almost as an “outsider” when I go to shows, conferences, etc. A lot of the “art world” seems to be arranged around the academic community. What school you went to, who you studied under, who you might have apprenticed with, as well as the social connections that start in art school seem to be the “passwords” that let you into the “real” art world.

    Without these connections one is not as likely to find out about invitational shows, contests, conferences, and the like. This is certainly not a complete barrier, but in my experience the non-art-school-graduate has to work much harder.

    Or maybe I just have an inferiority complex ;›


  4. Luann – this is great! As parents of an artist who is preparing to go to art school, we have encountered teachers for K that run the gamut of your descriptions. Her current teacher is an unhappy person who seems to have settled for teaching and has been telling the students (and especially K) that “being talented is not enough to be an artist”. We have had lots of conversations at home about her and what students gain and lose having her as a teacher. K has always been an artist and always will be – whether she chooses art school, an art career, or whether her art remains always and only her own.


  5. Hi Luann!
    You echo my sentiments (I so agree!), and your post was very encouraging! I have been a legitimate, credible artist since I first picked up a pencil, without having earned a degree (: I have recently considered, at age 40 (41 as of Oct 14), going back to school for a Bachelors in Graphic Design, having gone one year of art school (for Fine Art) back in 1986. Two years ago, I started using Inkscape Scalable Vector Graphics editor, an Open Source competitor to Adobe Illustrator, essentially my first experience with digital art. I have gained some notoriety among the Inkscape and Open Source developers and users, won a contest, test their developer versions and promote their software (even switched to Ubuntu/Linux OS, Inkscape’s native environment), and feeling like I have gotten pretty good at it, I decided to look into freelance work. Given Inkscape is Open Source, still rather new and innovative, and not the industry standard (Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape’s proprietary competitor somewhat- Adobe Illustrator is the print/pre-press standard, Scalable Vector Graphics a web standard, still in it’s early stages as an accepted print format), I have had a frustrating time finding jobs either that are worth my while financially (they are either for “chump change” or for less than the median base line hourly rate), and then there is the problem of finding jobs that I qualify for since most of the jobs require knowledge/use of Adobe Illustrator (a $3000 program!), and most often require a degree, not to mention experience (they mean finished examples of paid jobs), so I find myself having to pursue a degree, and learn the proprietary software just to get some credibility and a foot in the door. Looking into schools, just today I spoke with an Admissions person telling her about my two years of doing Open Source Graphic Design, and asked her about whether they required, or wanted to see my portfolio. She replied “no” and explained that students would develop a “professional” portfolio while in school, which was very invalidating, as if my self-taught, natural artistic abilities and experience learning Inkscape were of no account, and I couldn’t possibly have produced any “professional” work without having earned a degree, or by using an Open Source software. My husband, lovable quick-wit asked, “How would that be a ‘professional portfolio’? Wouldn’t that be an ‘academic portfolio’ since it would be assignments from school, and not actual jobs?” I received a decent scholarship out of high school from my portfolio, a requirement in applying to Memphis College of Art years ago (and still is a requirement at most art schools). Obviously MCA took into consideration and acknowledged that I had some ability, talent, skills, etc., prior to art school. It was that snobbery that kept me from going back to art school for years.

    While much of the attitude seems to come from the art business world and academia, I have found that among artists (the DeviantART community on the web is a good example), whatever medium, there is less of that exclusivity, peers, a camaraderie, appreciation for one anothers’ talent and skills, whether self-taught or degreed, which is encouraging.


  6. Gary, I don’t know how someone who makes work as beautiful as yours, can possibly have an inferiority complex, but yeah. :^)

    You make a good point about networks, but there are many ways to create our own. In fact, even the original definition of “outsider artist” has grown to include artists who simply did not go to art school. Check out this Wiki def: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outsider_art

    So go forth, newly-made, trendy Outsider Artist, and make more furniture!


  7. Lorraine, your story made my jaw drop. And to quote a more famous member of my family, “…the Lorraine Bairds of the world are really onto
    something. And the academic world, deep down, knows that and is afraid.”

    And Gary, that means you, too! :^)


  8. Hi Luann,
    How wonderful to read what I have always felt but could never muster the courage to overcome, until now…..thank you, thank you and thank you!! I don’t feel like an artist, I never went to art school and having just recently become divorced as a woman almost fifty, I followed my dream, opened an etsy shop and put my “art” jewelry out there for everyone to see. I can’t tell anyone why or how I create my “art”, I just know I have too……it makes me happy. I am scared to death of the critics, but you validated what I was feeling. I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me what I am or am not. Your insight was just what I needed to “hear” today. Thanks for your encouragement! And here’s a big, big “atta boy/girl” to all those great artists out there without the piece of paper. 🙂 Keep it going!!


  9. Thank you so much for this article. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I’m not really an artist.” or “I’m trying to be an artist.” simply because I didn’t go to art school. I’ve only in the last month worked up the courage to try to do something with my art, and this article was very encouraging. Thanks again!


  10. While I agree that many “talented” people exist and create wonderful “pieces” that didn’t attend art school as a former gallery owner for over 25 years I’ve found the vast difference between those that attended art school vs. those that didn’t is perhaps more in “mindset” in that they show a genuine appreciation of all art mediums/forms vs. an appreciation of only their own medium/form. My gallery was close to an art school and we exhibited students work. We continued to represent some of the graduates who found their “niche” in school. Those students/graduates were among my best customers and were always in awe of the talent, craftsmanship and ingenuity it took to create various art forms. A self taught potter was once in my gallery when a large shipment of glass sculptures arrived for an exhibit. He asked; “Why are you doing a glass exhibit? No-one likes glass.”

    While I don’t mean to categorize; maybe art school differentiates “artists” from “hobbyists” or maybe it’s nothing more than some “artists” just aren’t very “artsy.”


  11. This is a excellent post. Lately I’ve been wondering if I should go to art school, but the cost and the idea of structure always turns me away each time I start to think of it.

    I couldn’t imagine doing art that is the vision of others and not myself. This is something very hard for me to do naturally. Because I believe that everyone will have their own unique expression of art and being subjugated to the vision of others begins to strangle that natural expression that occurs.

    I was always afraid of that by going there my art style would either be accepted or rejected by art critics and people who have deemed a certain expression the “ideal” art. So you confirmed what I’ve already seen the entire time. And its a shame, I don’t think a art school should be that way. The teachers should be helping students to come into their own and find their unique expression of art. Not confining them to what a group of people considers the idea. That is terrible!

    As for the world of art outside of school. I always imagined it would be difficult. Though I wish it wasn’t that way.


    1. Actually, Aza, I recently had an experience that made me see the value of a good art school education. And that is the connections and opportunities that are made possible. I attended a workshop presented by a young woman who just finished post-graduate degree studies at a prestigious art school. In the course of her studies, she visited the studios of many well-known artists; gained access to facilities (museums, galleries) beyond the reach of most people, even allowed access to their “backstage”, so to speak.

      It was enough to make me wish I’d gone to art school, too! :^D

      I think everyone has their own needs and desires re: art school. If you feel drawn to it, go. Explore. Take what you need and leave the rest. Take advantage of every opportunity to connect, network, and experiment.

      And then, be sure to come back and tell us what you learned.


      1. Connections are always a good thing. I never doubted that could happen, but do you think paying the cost just to possibly gain connections to other artists is worth it? It not a guarantee that it could happen right?

        I’m not trying to negate the possible strengths for attending art school. My main concern is that I’d be confined to doing expressing others visions and not my own. For me that would make art lose its purpose entirely and I wouldn’t want to do it anymore.

        Anyhow, I wasn’t expecting a response from a thread that is pretty old. So thanks a lot! Though now it makes me want to ask you a ton of things. Hah

        Thanks again


  12. I attended an art college at the age of thirty six, a mature student. When I started my four year journey I believed that I would learn my trade and come out at the end a well rounded artist, but that didn’t happen, well not quite the way I had hoped. I thought that the school would give me a good grounding in the technical aspects of my chosen field, which is painting, but the school was into Do Your Own Thing which is great if you knew what your own thing was, at the time I didn’t, which to me made the school experience a failure.

    But, there is always a but, the school made me more aware of the ART world by involving me in it 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days /year for four years, which ingrained this thing called ART in my being.

    So, the art school idea was not a total failure.


  13. I’m not sure I should have gone to uni at all. But I did and I did a BA in japanese language and history. I consider that to be more useful for me than a fine arts degree because it has provided different influences for my art and because I can learn the technical stuff from books.


  14. Wonderful post! It’s nice to hear that someone else sees it this way, that not everyone thinks that being a self-taught artist is wrong.


  15. Luann, Thank you for this!
    Im a self taught career “artist” I heald out actually calling myself an “artist” well after my first year of getting paid work, I had been flown out to Utah and put up in a 4 star hotel with a car and perdiem with a 20,000 dollar set of allocated funds to complete the comission for a broadcasting company ,I was to airbrush 5 remote vans for radio stations ….I was at that time finally abile to accept the possabily that yes I may answer “Im an artist”
    Ive always considered it a very high calling and the fact that I could draw or do artist things did not make me an ” artist” but maybe just artistic.
    Im about 17 years in to a career and have starved,strived to continue in art as a means of support .
    I reciently decided on changing my direction to fine art and success as my goal (business wise) and my one feeling of complete stone polarizing fear is that i don not have a degree !
    (or spell check)
    This article is both encouraging and inspiring as Ive develouped a very unique and yet unseen medium that borders on the 3 dimensional and is highly aesthetic . I came about this way as my own isolated creative invention. I can step forward now knowing that I would not trade the artist I am today for a stack of degrees. thank you for equiping me with a very valid answer for those places that cant see art with out looking at the paper work first. I prefer my art to be appreciated for the value one can see on its face.


    1. James, you have made my day. No–my YEAR!! :^)
      I think creative people often have a stone-cold fear lurking around. I’m delighted I had a little part in melting yours.


  16. Thank you, that was exactly the encouragement that I needed at this moment. Even if I’ve heard it from my friends and family before. I’ve made a commitment to keep art in my life because it is who I am, and I do plan to make it profitable, but I’ve always worried I am truly and ‘artist’ without the proper degree.


  17. Thank you for this article!
    I’m currently at an art school, and must admit i am not enjoying it much. It has only been little over a couple of weeks, but I find myself almost held back by being there. Not able to do what I enjoy most, and not really having the time out of college.
    I have been thinking about leaving it and going it alone as it were. This article (and comments), is making me feel more enthusiastic and confident about people before who have made it without an art degree of any kind.

    Thank you again, now time to weigh up my options!!!! x


  18. This is so true. Art school (not all are the same, however) can kill your creative talent if you are not careful. Keep your wits about you. Are you willing to give up your real authentic talent to attempt to fit into the ‘image’ of being an artist or to meet other people’s approval?? The thing about fitting in with other people’s criteria is absolute truth. It has taken me a long while to work through major blocks in my creativity (‘The Artist Way’ written by Julia Cameron has been a great help!) due to my art school experience and only now just getting back into the original flow that I readily experienced in my teens. I am one of those who believed in this myth of having to go to art school in order to be a ‘real’ artist. My mistake… I now realise I was real before I had even enrolled. I am just beginning to paint again – it has been way too long. Thanks for your amazingly inspired blog!


    1. I’m so glad you’ve picked up your journey again. Sometimes I regret I didn’t ‘get with the program’ sooner. But then I realize my journey–and my art–would have been so very, very different. I hope you find that, too. Blessings, Angel!


  19. SO happy i read this. I get out of the navy in 8 Months. and Im an artist as well. it drives me mad. Because my family like my art but don’t support me going to an art school.(They feel its a waste of time. and i will be a “Starving artist”.) Lately I feel like i should Go to something that interestt me but Will still give me time to DO my art.I’m just nervous abotu doing 4 years in the navy and going to school and not going anywhere with my life.. this really helped me.


  20. Hi, everyone. I have just read this blog, and like so many of you, it was I needed to hear or nead. Because I have been wrestling with the idea that even if I could afford to go to art school, would or should I go. I am a self taught artist, or just talented at drawing.When I left comprihensive school at 16 I didn’t want to be an artist even though I had won the school Shield for twelve month’s for my art in the final year,and won a competition along the way.I went to the local college art department on a 12 month course 10 years on,but didn’t pick up much from that experience, and then at another college for 12 month’s in 2010, same again. So I decided, I am going it alone. I heard a critic say ,on looking at a painting that the artist is self taught talanted amature, because there is no real structure to the work. This is making me think how else can I develope academic structure without going to university, or should I need to.


  21. Hi, I just came upon this post and glad to see that so many people are discussing it. As a teenager I wanted to go to art school but my parents did not allow it, so I went and got a business degree and worked in a corporate job, but I was so unhappy that I started losing my hair! After I quit, I have been making art, taking night courses etc but when I think of approaching galleries, I get a cold fear in my stomach that ( inferiority complex, I guess) they will not let me into their “circle” since I do not have the credentials. Well, I must get over it though!
    I have considered applying to an art school, but But how do people go to art school and even try to become artists when they have a huge loan to pay off? I don’t know how that works out…


    1. Believe in yourself and have faith. Life will guide you where you need to go. Be prepared to go your own way as an artist – not as society dictates, ie must have degree, must have credentials, etc. You are yourself and if you know you need to do art, go to it. Best of luck!


  22. I believe everyone is an artist.

    Most people think you have to be an artist to have imagination. That is not true at all. The thing is everyone is an artist. Whether your a student, teacher, athlete, scientist, doctor, the average Joe, etc. You are all artist. Everyone is. Every person on this planet is born with imagination.


  23. I just stumbled across this article.
    Thank you very much for writing this.
    I just graduated from high school this past June and I don’t particularly see it as mandatory to go to college/uni just to study art, though my parents disagree.
    It’s never really been my intention on making a living off of my art. Art is just something I happen to be good at that I do that makes me happy. I think that somewhere in the back of my mind, my plan has always been to hopefully be able to move out, find a steady job with good pay, and just better my art for myself without needing to go to an art school to do it.
    I may not have won any awards for my art in high school (which, I will admit made me depressed and lose hope in my abilities) and I may have gotten a 2 on my portfolio by the freaking CollegeBoard for the second year in a row, but I do believe that my art is worth something, even if I don’t have some award as “solid proof”.
    So again, thank you.


  24. Although i agree with everything you’ve said, ive been to 2 different schools and the curriculum for both focused almost entirely on the certain techniques, history, and basically the marketing of your art. I believe you should know the basics of color, composition etc obviously thats kind of important for ne artist. its a double edge sword though because your constantantly being influenced by assignments examples lessons and your peers its almost impossible to be soley creative in your output. Maybe its just me but i even hate my inner monologue saying artist it just wierds me out for some reason, i find myself borrowing schemes and patterns when i think about artists rather than just going with my gut. The point of art for me is to be original and appealing to my own eye and i found that difficult at school, So you cant ever let finances influence your art.. and art school can heighten your expectations of that. Arts gotta flow with your schedule because you love it…some get lucky and are able to drop everything and go for it and some have to do what they can after working 8 hour shifts, but whichever you are the love and tenacity has to be original.


    1. Drew, I’m delighted schools are having more conversations about marketing art. I agree with you, the line between passion and money is a hard one to walk. We can spend our entire lives navigating that one, and everyone will do it differently.

      Another tricky line to walk is the one between being inspired and influenced by other artists, and bringing forth the one true vision in our own hearts. You’ll find that path. Some days you’ll walk closer to one or the other, but your own gut will guide you to the best way for you.

      Re: calling yourself an artist, a wise woman once told me, “If you’ve been told you’re NOT “something” a million times, then you have to say you ARE “something” a million times for it to take.” So I told myself every day for a year, “I’m an artist” until it just rolled off my tongue. Try it! :^)




  26. I’m a high school drop out.
    I chose to learn about love instead of being educated on it ha.

    I hit the “ceiling” one day. And I knew what I had inside, was ripe for the canvas… Yadda yadda.

    I am
    glad I read your post. :^>


  27. I went to NSCAD in the 70s. I wasn’t able to finish my degree in my last year. It wore heavy on my heart for thirty years. I continued with my art work and supported myself with various jobs, namely as a Youth Care Worker. I finally was able to return as a mature student to finish my BFA at the age of 56. When I was in my 20s, I was no where ready to attend University, but I do not regret it for a minute. NSCAD was quite a remarkable experience in the 70s.

    When I returned to University, I did three years at Mount Allison Fine Art program and graduated in 2012. It was a wonderful experience, but you need to be able to think for yourself, keep and open mind, believe in yourself, and do the work.
    Going to art school is very stimulating. You learn a discourse, to interact with other artists, build confidence, learn so many skills, and network.

    I would highly recommend anyone to go get themselves into a Fine Art program and get a degree, if you can afford it, and you are really ready.

    If a person wants to be a teacher, doctor, lawyer, or any other profession, no one would ever think that not going to University to get a degree is a good idea. So why would we entertain the idea it is ok not to bother getting a degree in the study of art?

    Of course a degree does not make or a guarantee good artist, nor a good doctor etc., but it sets a standard of professionalism that I believe is crucial.


    1. Hi,
      Just read your comment about to be an artist you need to studie in university,
      Well! Is not true because I can give you an example of famous artiste who made it to become successful and popular for example ” Francis Bacon ” who never studie art college and even said ” it was foulishe to studie in art schools ”
      If you are gifted in Artist, and can draw, paint, sculpt or any ect … You can make it by working hard, you can make it !
      Studying in university or art schools is bullshit! I studies in art school foundation and it was enough for me but a degree is to make university rich and yourself poor artist with no money!


    2. I don’t think that is a fair comparison, the professions you named are academical and follow a set pattern and function. Art is the opposite, its a expression of one’s self into tangible form. How can a degree help one to draw out what is already within them?


  28. Fantastic article, earning a degree is for many not achievable and I have never believed that creativity is necessarily tied to having a piece of paper that says you are. If you want to go to art school and can do so by all means do it, but inability to do so should not be a barrier to a career or interest in art if you have the motivation, desire and vision. Some of the best artists throughout history never saw the inside of an art college.


  29. Most excellent article. I went to a professional art school, which benefited me in so many ways. It was jailbreak from home. It was so fantastic to be surrounded by people who believed in the importance of art, which was a great antidote to being told otherwise. It also set up great work habits. I can’t really remember horrific critiques. Done well, they are feedback for improvement. In the 70s this was a 5 year program so in the last year we had a chance to grow more into our own. In retrospect, art school just scratched the surface. I got a degree in enameling with a minor in silversmithing, but it was just the beginning before working in stores and designing my own jewelry. Now that I am painting, that education began with the workshops I’ve taken with painters who make a living as artists.


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