Updated: Apr 20, 2020
One of the greatest perks of this platform is getting to watch and interact with so many different art students, watching them create, prosper and grow into the next generation of artists. But as the summer comes to a close I had a really harsh realization; I’ve hardly seen any work made by the students I follow. I’ve always been pretty vocal about my likes and dislikes of the current art school system but I think this one falls on the students, most notably the undergrads. It’s really easy to fall into the schedule of what school asks you to do, classes make you crit every five weeks or so, so you make a new piece every five weeks, no more no less. But in the real world there’s no strict schedule of when your work is going to be seen, there’s certainly no crits and I think the summer is a time where you see potential flourish of falter.
Motivation is crucial in everyone’s making process, we followed art as a career path because we’re passionate about it after all. Art making can’t become a chore or work or just something that you do because you have to. Now, I understand that there are ebbs and flows in the creative process, we’re not constantly producing work at maximum capacity, but there’s a big difference between a slow down in production and not producing at all because you don’t have to. It’s a harsh reality in the professional art world, but you don’t have to make work because if you don’t care to make it, no one will care to see it.
This is why I mentioned the undergrads especially at the beginning, because you’re the small fish in the really big pond and if you get caught just making because you have to make then when you get into the real world, you’re likely going to stop making. It’s the time of year where school picks back up and it’s always a bit disheartening to see students have to turn on their creativity after a 3 month hibernation. Their work suffers because of it. Art isn’t like math or reading, you can not read or do math for a little while and quickly pick it back up, but if you stop thinking creatively for long periods then you’re going to lose a lot of potential. I’m not saying that you have to be cranking out full on masterpieces in your spare time, art school is certainly a lot of work, but what I’m saying is don’t lose that creative passion. Keep a sketchbook, start a side project, challenge yourself to make outside of what the curriculum of your school requires. One step further, start marketing your work, try to sell something, apply to a show, anything. It’s easy to be the “big dawg” on campus as a senior over some inexperienced freshman but the professional world is a hell of a lot more harsh than that, so try to get an advantage and don’t go in blind. Take the time in school to try and launch your professional art career because when you’re the hot shot in school and then you get to the real world and suddenly no one gives a shit about your work, it’s a real shock. You can get a jump, you can show as a student, you can build a career as a student, it’s not easy but if you make the steps to at least try, you’re going to be far more ready for the professional world.
I don’t mean to sound harsh or mean as I’m writing this but I’ve suffered from these issues myself and I’ve seen a lot of talent fade into nothingness because the person’s creative drive just gave out. Art school is hard work but it applies something that we can often rely too much on; structure. The professional art world isn’t nearly as structured as the academic world is, so don’t become a victim of the student making schedule. If you just fill in the critique gaps with one work every few weeks, you’re likely going to become a statistic and not a good one. Take chances, be adventurous, do more, do every possible thing that you can, and never let that creativity of yours turn off.