Conceptual vs. Technical Art schools?

I applied and got accepted to a handful of art schools last year (I’m taking a gap year at the moment because I’ve heard that continuing to pay for the freshman year when its online is far from worth the tuition) and i was having doubts about my choice.

I chose SAIC because i loved the freedom and the facilities, but now that i browse through more critical reviews of the school it seems like a lot of people are turned away by how conceptual the school is. Conceptual art isn’t really my strong suit, given I’ve only had experience in one art academy and the usual middle school level art classes. I tend towards intricate clay sculptures, which I’ve heard is way more technical than what SAIC usually encourages. All that is making me wonder whether SAIC is still worth it, or if any of the schools are, given what I’ve heard about them. I was accepted to SAIC, Pratt, MICA, and Otis.

Might want to post this in the Visual Arts forum.


In looking at art schools for my daughter (an 11th grader) who wants to gain traditional, representational art skills, a school that keeps rising to the top is Laguna College of Art & Design. If you google “LCAD sculpture” it will pull up information on that aspect of the school. If the west coast is an option (as it seems to be, given your application to Otis), that could be an interesting school to explore.


Look up some of the colleges on the visual arts forum like the discussion above. You’ll find a lot of impressions about many of the different colleges. Just reading through will give you some ideas of where you might fit in better with your particular interests.

Offhand SAIC is known to take more of a conceptual approach which students either love or totally hate. RISD, Ringling, SCAD, MICA are more technical based. I believe Pratt is more technical but not sure. I don’t know about any sculpture programs specifically but perhaps someone does.

One specific drawback to MICA is the crime rate of the area surrounding the school.

I always say to look for student work and see if it fits the style you want to emulate.

Most programs focus on a foundation year which is drawing, general ed requirements. And at SAIC this can be also just conceptual.

All that aside SAIC is ranked pretty high in sculpture but you’d have to look up what type of sculpture that might be. Also look to see if sculpture is only a graduate program at a college or if you have to be “re-accepted” after two years with another portfolio to actually pursue your first choice of major.

Ask away!

SAIC is ranked as a graduate program. But you’d have to check it out.
VCU is highly ranked but I’m not sure if that is graduate or undergraduate program.