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Is art school worth the investment?

aarondelleaarondelle Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
Im planning attending LCAD in the future and tuition is a little under 30k yearly. Im from a middle class family and just bringing up the cost of college brings dread to my parents. I know that the school will offer aid to help pay for tuition but I doubt that i'll be able to get it under 20k. Is art school worth the investment? I want to work as a game concept artist but im unsure if it'll be worth it in the end.

Replies to: Is art school worth the investment?

  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,824 Senior Member
    So you're interested in an illustration degree.
    Art school is very expensive. LCAD is 28K for tuition and another 12 K for boarding. So 40K per year. Then add supplies.
    You should probably be looking very hard at public schools with a lesser price tag. It doesn't mean you sacrifice quality. There are many good schools out there which will help you achieve your goals. Do the research. Ask on these forums for school suggestions that would be more fitting for your pocket book.
    The last thing you want is to graduate with huge debt. Nor put your parents in a position where they can't retire comfortably.
    On these forums you'll find that parents encourage the "money talk" with their kids when it comes to school selection--you have one with your parents and find out the number that they ARE comfortable with.
  • samsamgsamsamg Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
    I suggest you submit your portfolio to the art schools you are thinking about attending. You may be offered a scholarship to help pay for your education. Each college has different requirements about what type of work to submit. If you are able to go to a portfolio review at LCAD (or other schools) take advantage of this opportunity to get help with your portfolio. The better the portfolio work you submit, the higher the scholarship offers you'll receive.
  • ArtAngstArtAngst Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    Also chiming in to add to @samsamg 's good advice. How are your grades? Obviously your art is a major component of your application, BUT if your grades are strong there is often merit aid offered too. Art schools play the same game as all the other colleges, if you have high grades they want you because you'll up their statistics on the various ranking sites.

    So definitely look at your state's schools & which have art majors, but don't hesitate to apply to art schools you're also interested in.
  • moonpiemoonpie Registered User Posts: 486 Member
    @aarondelle My daughter was accepted there with academic and artistic merit scholarships. It is now the most affordable of all the schools she's been accepted to (so far). They called her in person on a Saturday and offered admission ans scholarships, and then followed up with email. They have been very responsive, and it seems like a little gem of a school!
  • atlascentauratlascentaur Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    I think the fundamental question of "is it worth it" is a very valid one.

    In part, art school isn't usually about learning to make art. What it IS about depends on which school you go to.

    Many schools create programs that are about articulating theories about art. Others make it about creating statements through their specialties. Some are more like schools that train skills for industries like graphic design, advertising, film and video. Some want intellectuals to come out of their program (SAIC) and focus only on very narrow definitions of art. Others have alternative focuses.

    What's intriguing to me is this: From what I hear if you want to become an artist you have to train yourself. Art schools have wandered far off the path of helping you become an artist. That said, being in an environment with artists and where art is talked about is important to developing your own skills and path.

    A graphic designer I know who does NOT have a degree (but succeeded) told me they always felt at a loss because they didn't have the training to engage a lot of the arcane discussions the rest of the art staff wanted to have.

    And that leads to, perhaps, the most critical question: What value is an art degree on your resume'? It depends. A friend of mine who is a highly successful artist yet found art school disappointing observes that he wouldn't have received the award he received (like NEA grants, etc) without the letters after his name (BFA, MFA).

    And, if you are applying for employment as an art director or animator or... then a degree has value as a talking point or may even be a mandatory for getting the job.

    All this to say, though, that the exact value of an art degree is fuzzy. Don't go to art school thinking that the school is where you learn to make art. The school does a lot of things - but only you can learn to make art.
  • ArtAngstArtAngst Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    @atlascentaur All great points above. Plus I need to copy your last paragraph and send to my kid ASAP! We had a marathon phone call this weekend where she is extremely frustrated in what she's NOT learning. Thankfully it's only in one class. And when I looked up the profs own art, I immediately understood why they're not going to click (and also gave her some tough love of this is one of those 'learning experiences').

    And yes, she wants to enter a field where having those letters after her name will matter.

    Also to add to the above, the networking you do with profs, other students and staff is also critical. So much of the creative arts fields are collaborative, by word of mouth etc and view art school (or any college) through that future lens of how you plan to conduct yourself in the professional world afterwards.
  • shoot4moonshoot4moon Registered User Posts: 1,157 Senior Member
    So, I am a nonartist trying to help my artist kid pick a university. The more I research this, the more I realize that many, many art schools are focused on the concept of art vs the techniques. In terms of LCAD, it is very, very, very much based in figurative art. Look at the art on their site. There is a minimal amount of strings hanging from the ceiling, people in glass jars, etc. Many people think this is art - more power to them. I have a hard time visualizing how this type of art would get my daughter a job. For us, the ability to effectively represent a concept using art = terrific drawing skills, ability to do perspective and visualization of concepts, etc. OP, is that what you are into? I would think that a game concept person would need those skills. If so, I would look at LCAD seriously.
  • shoot4moonshoot4moon Registered User Posts: 1,157 Senior Member
  • evergreen5evergreen5 Registered User Posts: 298 Junior Member
    Along these lines of what is taught, can anyone discuss whether studio art departments at regular, 4-year universities are likely to have the same issues as art schools?
  • ArtAngstArtAngst Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    edited March 6
    Yep @shoot4moon I do a lot of the same critical observation since while I enjoy lots of mediums including fine arts, modern, performance etc in museums and galleries...that's not the field I work in & teach nor the kind of art my kids want to do professionally.

    My oldest at RISD just needs to survive foundation year since she's going into their Illustration major and next year it's much more skill based. However, in the meantime she's got a drawing prof this semester who's got her doing projects blindfolded and who's own art involves...well string AND coffee thrown at the wall. ;)
  • ArtAngstArtAngst Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    edited March 6
    @evergreen5 I teach in an art dept within a liberal arts university and yes you will find these same issues. I can't remember if it was said in this thread or not but pay attention to the student art on display...that will tell you alot about what's encouraged/fostered by various teachers.

    HOWEVER, understand the different aims of each type of art and department. I teach in a commercial arts field so our student work is going to be a lot different than another floor of our building that's more fine arts. And that's as it should be, since there's different skills and types of creativity we're trying to impart.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,824 Senior Member
    edited March 7
    "HOWEVER, understand the different aims of each type of art and department."

    In my very limited experience the Illustration major seems much more commercially focused--skill based, representational art, "get a job" focus. The fine arts major appears to be more "conceptual" (installation, performance art) and "do your own thing" focused.

    Is that perception correct? Or is it more dependent on the school's direction as a whole?
  • ArtAngstArtAngst Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    @gouf78 that is generally the case re those fields. If your child is looking to go into fine arts ask what workshops, mentoring etc they give to help graduates navigate that world too and make a living. That should hopefully be provided in all schools to some extent.

    In RISD's case they have programs on submitting work for shows, working with galleries, pricing, getting grants, corporate art programs etc and have their own separate portfolio day program and mentoring/networking track for the fine arts students.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,956 Senior Member
    edited March 8
    I'd say it depends on it much money your parents have saved. Don't let them take on debt for you. As an artist, your first years will inevitably be lean. If you want to take the federal loans, you must be aware it'll be tough to pay them back when when you have art inside if you, ready to burst out, you do what needs to be done and you take on those loans (5.5k freshman year.) But make sure you don't ask your parents to take on debt for you.
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