Is Art School Worth it? Is it a Waste of Money?

Art school is a major investment in both time and money but does having an art degree enhance your career? Is art school worth it and will it pay back your investment? Or are you just hoping for the best? The answer in short…

crocodile pencil drawing by wildlife artist Kevin Hayler

Art School vs. Traditional College: Which One Is Right for Me?

Choosing which college to attend can be one of the most overwhelming decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. From the location to offered degree programs to extracurricular activities, there are many factors that must be considered when deciding which school to attend. For those with an interested in the arts, your decision will also entail taking a close look at art school vs. traditional college.

While many traditional colleges and universities do offer art degrees, for those who are interested only in the arts, a dedicated art school, such as Hussian College, can be a great option. However, there are benefits and drawbacks to each path. Here’s what you need to know to help you decide which path is best for your unique goals and interests.

What Can You Expect to Learn in Art School?

Few students realize that art college is not like an apprenticeship. A Bachelor of Arts degree is mostly academic and involves studying art history, literature, psychology etc, and is not the creative experience they might’ve imagined.

an art student graduating from art school

Either way, a student can end up spending a great deal of time and money studying things that are irrelevant, and with little to no value to them. There are only a few top colleges out there, most are mediocre with teachers who are themselves mediocre.

One successful American artist I follow who has had formal training is Stephen Bauman. He trained at the Florence Academy of Art. Consequently, his style is very classical, not always to my taste in subject matter, but flawless in application and technique.

I admire his talent very much but what does he do for a living after all that expense? He teaches, first at the academy and now online. He learned his craft in Florence, undoubtedly for a considerable amount of money, but why would you?

Realistic portrait drawing by Stephen Bauman. A drawing course on

How can you learn your craft from teachers who have less talent than their students? Who needs to be taught by a professional critic? Tutors have enormous influence and power over their students but their opinions are all subjective.

That’s all very well if you are mature enough to have a sense of direction and purpose, but the irony of finding your own way is that unless you follow your tutor’s bias you might fail your degree. What freedom is that?

Choosing the Right Place to Learn

In an art school, it all depends on the person teaching the class and if can they explain what they know. A phenomenal artist does not always make for a phenomenal teacher. And on the other side, there are people out there who are not very good artists, but who understand how it’s done.

These individuals, from a technical standpoint, know exactly what they are doing. But they can’t seem to apply it, though they explain it beautifully. So when choosing where to learn, you have to find someone who can both apply and explain what you want to learn.

Make a wise choice when you choose your school. Rather than a popular local school, if you want to study animation, attend a school like Gnomon. Find a school that is immersed in the job field that you want. A school that sits across from Hollywood movie houses will most likely rocket your career much further than one across the country with no affiliations.

So rather than trusting a college experience to help you succeed in your chosen art field, consider a specialized school or studying hands-on with a professional. This will help you to take your education into your own hands and know that you will be in contact with successful, industry professionals.


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