Is a formal education better than learning on your own? This discussion seems to appear quite often on creative blogs. One headline even reads: “Don’t Go To Art School.” Sure, there are plenty of valid arguments to either side with the cost of tuition being a hot topic. But I’m going to focus on what seems to matter the most in our creative industry: your portfolio.
When I a high school student researching lists of college that’d suit me, I can recall an important cliche: You get out of your education what you put into it. That’s good advice no matter regardless of what type of eduction you choose. If you go read all the books you’re supposed to read, watch tutorials and spend your time learning on your own, you could argue that your skills as an artist could rival anyone who attends the top schools: the Pratt and Juilliard students who never paid any attention at all.
In our creative industry, you portfolio and demo reel can weigh more than your education. You can create a strong portfolio on your own, but a classroom can give you that added motivation of working amongst peers. From my personal experience, life gets in the way of my portfolio projects. But classes and coursework feel like priorities.
Going to school doesn’t have to mean “getting a degree.” Maybe you already have solid graphic design skills, and you want to learn motion graphics or animation. Look for classes at local colleges and just take the one or two that you need. It’s what I’ll be doing soon. Learning skills logically instead of bouncing around YouTube tutorials is the path I’ve chosen.
So it comes down to you. The individual artist. I strongly believe that a motivated person will make it without a formal education. Someone who needs a deadline to get things done may be better off taking classes.
Image source: Luckymanpress.com