Monday, August 9, 2010

“Did you know that you wanted to go to art school?”

Me with my Basic Design students, RISD PC Illustration Majors

Even though it’s been a while since I last posted, it’s not due to a lack of things to talk about. Five RISD pre-college classes and 71 students brought a lot of great projects, silly moments, and a few heart to heart talks with unsure young artists who are trying to answer that all important question that is dominating their existence at the moment: what do I study in college?? Many assumed the six week program would answer that question crystal clear… and for some that did happen. For others, however, the whirlwind and intensity of the semester just confused them even more. It’s amazing how often I heard the same question thrown my way:

“Did you know that you wanted to go to art school?”

Yes, I did. I didn’t know what major I wanted to choose (odd fact: I thought I was going to go into Apparel), but I knew I wanted to go to art school and later chose RISD. Now, let me stress that I knew I wanted to go to art school. Meaning I wanted to learn…meaning I knew I had potential but still sucked to high heavens when it came to specific areas in art. Whenever you decide to pursue something in higher education, it’s because you usually have a deep interest and passion for it. ‘Nuff said. People who love learning French in high school know more than the average bear (or me), but that doesn't mean they are experts. Twelve-year-olds interested in Medical school aren’t taking small reptiles and performing kidney transplants in the family garage (we hope). However, when it comes to art school I find my students and many others think you have to be already amazing to get in. It’s true that you have to draw more than a stick figure, but obviously if you already knew everything about art than you wouldn’t have to go to an art college in the first place, so don’t stress it if you’re a little rough around the edges.

There was also another important factor with my decision to go to art school. First of all, let me say that I did not think I was amazing at the age of 17. Yes, I thought I had a knack for art and enjoyed making it. Going to art school just “made sense”, but more importantly, I had no doubts about pursuing a higher education in art because I truly felt like I had faith in myself no matter what I pursued. I could have been a chef, a meteorologist, or a DJ and I think I would have approached it with the same positive attitude- that with hard work, time, and patience I could be successful. With something like art, It’s easy to romanticize it into some sort of magical ability…either you have “it” or you don’t, but in the end it’s about those values that Mom and Dad tried to drill into us when we were in elementary school: study, do your homework (well), and apply yourself 100%. No pixie dust needed.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you are now…it’s how hard you push to be where you want to be in the future.