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Career focused art schools with strong Digital Media and Fashion/Textile majors

rpitermanrpiterman 11 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
My son will be applying to art colleges this fall as a transfer student. Please offer us suggestions as to art schools that are known for both Digital Media/Design and Technology, as well as fashion and textiles. His current interests are 3D modeling/creature design, but he also loves textile design.

He wants a school that has strong industry connections and feeds well into internships and post graduation jobs.

Current top choices are Parsons and Otis. Looking for help narrowing down our search.
TIA for any help you can offer.
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Replies to: Career focused art schools with strong Digital Media and Fashion/Textile majors

  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers 3351 replies77 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Hands down, check SUNY FIT -- it's a bargain esp if you're in-state.
    - Great industry connections.
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  • rpitermanrpiterman 11 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @Dustyfeathers thank you for responding. Is FIT a good choice even if he doesn't go into the fashion industry or mostly if we wants to go that direction?
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6750 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    SCAD - but I'd wait for a week or two because the school just announced they will be closed through at least 9/9 due to Hurricane Dorian. Was thinking RIT as well, but not sure they have anything in textiles/fashion.

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  • rpitermanrpiterman 11 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @JBStillFlying Those look like 2 great suggestions. Thank you. I'm going to take a close look at them.
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  • rpitermanrpiterman 11 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm the OP...just want to throw a comment on here requesting that anyone who has opinions/first hand experience with the schools mentioned, please comment. Thanks!
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  • snowbirdmomsnowbirdmom 14 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    We live in the LA area - my daughter is a 10th grader and has been taking summer and school year classes at Otis since elementary school. She will be applying for BFA programs in a couple of years and is in the process of narrowing down which majors she will apply to, but Otis will definitely be on that list. My experience with the school, while in that context and not the full time college context, has been excellent. The atmosphere is lively and warm, and they have a strong focus on career development and placement. When I read your son's two interests, I immediately thought of Otis as being ideal, and that was before I read that you were already interested in it. I also like that you can explore different things and do majors and minors there, rather than applying to a single program with no chance to minor or explore (although I know that for some people, the other approach is the right way to go). Good luck with the process and we'll be watching with interest to see how things develop!
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  • rpitermanrpiterman 11 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @snowbirdmom Thank you so much for replying. We are also from LA. My son spent 3 years taking Art Center Saturday High and Art Center at Night classes. Although he loved those programs, he couldn't see himself being a full time college student at Art Center. It was too hard core and cold. He completely fell for Otis when we visited. He is specifically interested in their toy design major. He also had a very good portfolio review there. Additionally, he likes that they have fashion if he wants to head in that direction. We weren't thrilled with the Digital Media department because the students with whom we spoke were generally not happy in that discipline. However, the toy design students were very happy.

    We just returned from NY and Boston. Parsons was the only school that we saw in NY because are time was so limited. He loved the school, had a great portfolio review and was super turned on by the Design and Technology major. In Boston we visited MassArt and SMFA. Even though he had very strong reviews at both, he ruled them out for different reasons.

    This trip gave him a new perspective on what he is looking for. As a result, we are looking at more schools now. Keep in touch.

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  • snowbirdmomsnowbirdmom 14 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks for that info! And so interesting to hear what you said about ArtCenter...this summer, she did a Saturday class at AC and then a Sunday class at Otis, and during the three-hour period I would hang out at each school, catching up on work for my job. Although ArtCenter is clearly a world-class institution, I had the same reaction - it felt "cold" to me, although I couldn't figure out if that was because the interiors were so monochromatic or because there was something deeper going on. She definitely wants to stay in SoCal, and the two schools she hasn't checked out yet are LCAD and Gnomon - she'll probably do Gnomon's two-week program next summer, along with an intensive somewhere. Their BFA is new, and it is more of an out-of-the-box strategy vs. a more traditional art school, but my feeling is that it will become clear over the next couple of years what the right path is for her. We did do a tour of Chapman, but she has decided that animation is not her thing, and that she definitely wants to go the art school route rather than the standard college route. I'm glad this community exists, because everything in the college prep world seems so much more geared to kids whose choices are being guided by admission to standard colleges (understandably). Thanks again! PS Did the Digital Media students express any particular areas of concern? That is definitely something she will want to be mindful of as our research continues. I also need to dig deeper into what percentage of kids get into their major of choice following the foundation year - it would be unfortunate to do that year and then not get into the major you want.
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  • rpitermanrpiterman 11 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @snowbirdmom LOL, my son is 20 now and driving. But, I used to spend 3 hours nearly every Saturday on my laptop at AC too. I can give you some insight on Gnomon because my son took one class there. Even though the school has a fantastic reputation as feeder school into Hollywood and it's close to home, he hated the class. The school is 100% a commuter school. If your daughter wants to experience the community feeling that you can only get at a school where people live on campus, then don't waste your money...a lot of money...on Gnomon. It is very cold and uninviting there. However, they do tout a very high placement rate after graduation and I was told by people working in the industry that they hire lots of Gnomon graduates.

    Regarding the digital media students at Otis, we spoke to 2 or 3 of them...they complained that the industry is moving so fast that their teachers weren't keeping up on the new technology/trends. They would teach them the foundation, then give an assignment. Because the students are so competitive with each other in this particular major, they would go home and teach themselves the new stuff using YouTube and the like in order to compete in the classes. The students generally felt that they didn't know what they were paying for and they were frustrated. I didn't think to ask if the digital media teachers were not currently working in their fields. That might explain this phenomenon.

    That being said, the toy design students felt very supported and loved their program.

    My son loves Oits, but I'm a little concerned that if he doesn't enjoy toy design and wants digital media, then he may not ultimately be happy. I do love that it's close to home though.

    HTH!
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6750 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^ Teaching to industry standard is crucial; however, do keep in mind that a decent BFA program is supposed to help you develop professional skills and talents over and above the specific tools and techniques of the trade, whatever they may currently be. Designers are problem solvers, so they are used to switching out and even upgrading their tools as needed in order to solve the problem.

    Also, be careful about degree programs at the bachelor's level that are highly specific to one particular industry (auto, toys, etc.). You want a program that is general enough to allow you to apply those design skills to a variety of practices and industries. For instance, a well-prepared graphic designer should be able to work in advertising, entertainment, publishing or tech (to name just a few industries) and apply a variety of basic and digital talents to any of those. They should be hirable to work in-house somewhere, or at a stand-alone practice. So lots of options, which means lots of opportunity and lifetime employability. However, if someone graduates in "advertising art" alone, they may be quite skilled at logos but unable to think like the type of designer that Google or MGM or Random House is looking for. As long as Leo Burnett is hiring, all may go well. If Leo Burnett ISN'T hiring, different story.

    That being said, your schools of interest need to be employing the current set of tools. This may be harder to achieve for some industries than others, but if the instructors are also working practitioners, that will help keep the techniques fresh. Also, check to see how easy it is for the school to change out their equipment. SCAD's animation lab, for instance, leases everything so they can switch up as needed to stay current. Given the trends in so many design fields now, I'd be very concerned if a school had old equipment or refused to assign projects that made use of digital media. But I'd also be concerned if their primary goal was teaching you procedure and not concept.
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  • snowbirdmomsnowbirdmom 14 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @rpiterman Thanks, that was indeed really helpful! Did you look at LCAD at all? And do you find that other parents look at you like you're crazy when you say your son is heading the art school route? People are astonished my daughter focuses so much time on art and isn't, for example, trying to max out on AP maths and sciences like everyone else (doing a solid academic program but nothing crazy). I've learned to ignore it, but I never thought I would feel like such a rebel in supporting her in this life path!
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  • rpitermanrpiterman 11 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 5
    @JBStillFlying
    ^ Also, be careful about degree programs at the bachelor's level that are highly specific to one particular industry (auto, toys, etc.).

    That's an interesting point. We will have to give it some deeper thought. The flip side of an industry-specific discipline is that the school is a feeder school into that industry. The Toy Design program at Otis is one of only two in the country. So, the toy companies are looking for their graduates.

    Do you have the same concern for a degree in Game Art? We are looking at that discipline at LCAD.

    Thank you for bringing up the industry standard equipment/software point. I never would have thought to ask that.

    edited September 5
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  • rpitermanrpiterman 11 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @snowbirdmom I used to be more concerned about what others thought about my son wanting to go to art school. I can't blame them. First of all, we homeschooled, so we are used to people questioning our decisions. LOL. That being said, I believe with all of my mommy gut that my son belongs in art school. Art classes are the only classes that he loves and feels comfortable in. However, I did stress to him that art school is expensive and that he must choose a discipline that will offer him employability when he graduates. He sees my logic and totally agrees. I gave him my blessing to minor or double major in any fine art of his choice, if he wants to. I told him to fill his soul with painting or printmaking, but get a job that will offer him the financial flexibility to indulge in his passion.

    Keep advocating for your daughter and her passions. I'm sure you know her best! Besides, who really cares what others think!
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6750 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @rpiterman - not well versed on the specifics of game design; however, my hunch is that those skills are transferable to several fields, including animation. BTW, same goes for an illustration major, as long as you have enough technical proficiency to pick up whatever proprietary design program the studio is using.

    Toy design is a subset of product design/ID so if your student feels they can branch out a bit due to the skill set (which will include design, material selection, and possibly market analysis skills) then it should be ok. One thing to check on would be how many toy design majors at Otis go on to graduate with this specialty (vs. transferring to another major or school) and then how many of those tend to start in the industry. Another would be to find out from Otis how transferable those skills are to another field in the event of a downturn (toys tend to be discretionary expenditures).
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  • snowbirdmomsnowbirdmom 14 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @rpiterman “Art classes are the only classes he loves and feels comfortable in” —-> I so identify with this! While she definitely tries hard in everything, and enjoys classes focusing on social studies types of topics, it is only when she is engaged in visually-oriented activities that she gets into the “zone” and is in a flow state. I like your approach of being mindful of employability while also taking some classes in aspects of the arts that may not have quite the immediate career application. That sounds like a great balance. And agreed - advocating for her and ignoring those who judge sets an example for her that peer pressure - even amongst adults - can be resisted!
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  • stones3stones3 929 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    VCUARTS has a very good fashion design /merchandising program. Its a very highly regarded school and in fact maintains the #2 spot overall in the usnwr grad mfa program on behind Yale. Worth a look. And Richmond Va is a very cool arts community/city.
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  • BrooklynRyeBrooklynRye 709 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    USNWR Fine Arts rankings are: (i) for Graduate programs; (ii) outdated by more than 5 years, and (iii) generated by very suspect metrics. Also, fashion design/merchandising was not even a ranking category for those.

    In addition to intelligent, unbiased suggestions made by others above, consider RISD. Know the rap about expense and competitiveness, but the school is strong in most departments and, for the toy-designer, is tied in to Hasbro, among others, in Providence/New England.
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  • stones3stones3 929 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    as stated very clearly for those who can read, I said "VCUARTS maintains the #2 spot overall in the usnwr GRAD MFA program only behind YALE". Why repeat the accurate message as if it was other? Please, for your own benefit disregard the disillusioned poster above as she is heck bent on disparaging this fine program and is very transparent. I am sure she awaits the day they drop one spot in the rankings as she will be the first to post. As I said very transparent she should really move on already and stop embarrassing herself.
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  • ArtAngstArtAngst 334 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited October 9
    Kid2 is currently a first year at Parsons and so far very happy in the program. Kid1 is a senior at RISD so can share perspectives on both schools. Both are illustration majors but with different career goals.

    RISD is a great school but one of the cons for kid2 (who also got accepted, probably to prove they could ;) ) is that RISD's academic structure is much more rigid. BUT with that said, kid1 is getting an amazing education AND also even though is an illustration major, is doing a lot of 3D work/character design (both sculpted and digital) instead for projects and the profs seem fine with it & encouraged her at junior portfolio review etc.

    Kid2 picked Parsons because they wanted a LOT more flexibility in classes pursuing concept art as a career (ie wants to take creative writing, stage design etc) and the environment of NYC was a big draw too.

    BUT I know at both schools the art majors become VERY segregated when it comes to fashion. To be fair, it's because there is a much different sub-set of skills to be taught. So if your student is pursuing fashion, I'd have them talk with a college rep from each school and see how easy it is (or not!) to move between the disciplines. But Parsons/New School in particular seems to encourage that kind of cross-disciplinary approach so it may be much easier to do so at that school.
    edited October 9
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6750 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 9
    ^ Good point above about the fashion majors being segregated. Pratt goes further by having a separate foundation program for fashion, even though you are in the School of Design along with ComD, ID, and interior. Those latter three majors take the same foundation year with one anothe and with the School of Art (fine arts, animation, film, etc.). But fashion has separate first year courses. Another reason might be that the major is at capacity and/or piority registration is given to major; thus, no one outside of it can take those courses. A lot depends on how the particular school is run.

    OP and son might also look into SAIC as they have a LOT of areas of focus: fibers, fashion, designed objects, etc. SAIC is a lot more fluid in its curricula. A studio degree can involve study of one discipline, or several.

    http://www.saic.edu/t4/academics/areasofstudy/#saic
    edited October 9
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