Sunday, February 16, 2014
Are Visual Arts Degrees Valuable?
Question: Why don't companies like: Disney, Pixar, Sony, Blizzard, Microsoft, Blue Sky, Mattel, Hasbro, Random House, Harper Collins, and Scholastic hire artists based on whether or not they have a college degree? Lets cut to the chase - it's because colleges and Universities routinely give degrees to students who haven't mastered their craft. This really isn't news but I thought I'd briefly write about this so I have a link to copy and paste to artists who ask me for advice on what degree they should get? The other day an artist wrote to me asking what colleges look the best on a resume for animation studios.
If a bachelors degree in visual arts said anything about the quality of students pumped out each year companies would require and interview applicants with BA's and BFA's. The truth is that these companies couldn't care less that you have a degree. They want to see what you can do. They want to look at your portfolio. They also want you to be semi normal but that's another discussion.
BUT - most professional illustrators DID go through a University or art school program. Most artists aren't motivated enough to impose the rigorous hours of practice necessary or even know what to practice to become professional. Schools provide an exposure and immersion to mentors, professionals, markets, networking, methods & techniques, history, standards, and philosophies. These introductions can unlock hidden desires and passions the beginning student never knew they had. So ironically you should probably go to school (and that could mean everything from University to art school to online classes and tutorials - one or a mixture of them) to get good at your craft but don't think too much about the certificate you get - nobody is going to ask for it.
*The bachelors degree is really only valuable if you want to teach at a public or private school, institution, or college and then you will need a masters degree to top it off. Oh yeah - and getting a degree will make your parents happy.