Introduction to Art Schools: Directions and Choices for the Student Artist

by Frederick H. Carlson
Directions and Choices for the Student Artist

Finding the right art education is a very individual process and decision.

Curriculum priorities within each art department, the look and feel of a particular art school, and one's own extracurricular plans are all crucial in making your own individually correct decision. Your seriousness of commitment is probably the most important variable, and your research and discussion with particular art faculty are sometimes the final piece of the college puzzle.

You have to decide if you want to emphasize managing and directing others eventually, or doing your own art forever. Remember, keeping the long view on artists' careers means being adaptable to change, creating trusting and long-lived relationships with people who can support your vision and work, and being honest with yourself about whether the art or money is more important. Usually, artistic AND monetary considerations play into life decisions in almost anyone at anytime, so be ready for those opportunities and challenges as you consider your future as a working artist.

Demanding training with excellent faculty is almost always required if you wish to have a specific career in the art world. World-class programs and highly recognized faculty can be found in art schools, universities, and maybe in your own back yard at an art academy. But once you are out in the field, credentials are highly secondary and the work has to speak for itself. If you are interested in just expanding your basic learning and general education in the arts, a looser structure with a more basic university curriculum should be considered.

Some of the basic considerations in choosing a school are listed in What Type of Art School Do You Want to Attend and Choosing an Art School, should be thought through and discussed with not only your family, counselors, and other confidants, but hopefully someone working in the field!

  1. What Is Art?
  2. Professional Overview in the Arts
  3. Working as an Artist  
  4. The Challenges for the Artist
  5. What is a Portfolio?
  6. The Long View is Necessary
  7. Art Education
  8. Directions and Choices
  9. What Type of Art School Do You Want to Attend?
  10. When is the Art Major Important?
  11. Costs and Financial Aid >>
  12. Choosing an Art School
  13. Conclusion

About the Author

Frederick H. Carlson is one of the most well-known artist/illustrators in the mid-Atlantic region. No venue is too large or too small for his incisively drawn and lucidly painted pieces. He has executed everything from room-sized murals to LP covers. He drew over 150 portraits for National Review between 1990-1999.

Carlson is a 1977 Carnegie-Mellon University alumnus, and has been a freelancer for over 30 years. He has exhibited his art at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, the New York Society of Illustrators Cegep-St. Foy (Quebec), Dubendorf (Switzerland), the Manchester Craftsmens Guild, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and at Daystar/One World Gallery.

Fred was the National President of the Graphic Artists Guild from 1991-1993, the first non-NYC based artist to be so elected. He served on the Guild's Executive Committee for 8 years. He has written extensively and has been published in national publications such as The Artist's Magazine, Communication Arts, GAG News, Artists Market, and his work was featured in ART DIRECTION. He was one of the speakers addressing the Illustration Conference (ICON3) in Philadelphia in June 2003, and he served as a juror the same month at the 44th annual Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, PA.

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