If you’re the creative type, art school is a great way to expand your knowledge and meet similarly minded friends and mentors.
Not only will you have the opportunity to do what you love every day, you’ll be able to build a community who “gets” your passion for paint, clay, glass, metal or your medium of choice.
Attending a top art school can be the opportunity of a lifetime, but it’s not always easy to get in. You’ll be competing with many students who are exceptionally skilled, and you’ve got to make sure you stand out in order to peak your admissions officer’s interest.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Build an extensive portfolio
Your portfolio is your resume. It shows your past experience as an artist and your potential for future growth and achievement. Even though you’re going to art school to improve on your talents, you’ve got to be able to show some pre-existing talent when you apply.
Do much more than is required in your art class. If art is your passion, then you should already be doing it on your own time. But make sure you’re spending some weekends and evenings drawing, painting, sculpting, etc. Even better, create a website and make this work easily viewable online.
My brother is in film school in Southern California. All throughout my childhood I remember him creating films, acting and editing special effects. He already had a decent set of skills when he applied and (yay!) got in. Now that he’s in film school he has the opportunity to improve his skills drastically, but he already had years of experience that he was able to mention in his application.
2. Figure out why you want to be an artist.
Art is paint on canvas or blobs of clay, but it’s the story or the idea behind the work that makes it special. Brilliant artists sell ideas and stories, and you need to think like this in order to get your college excited about letting you attend.
What is the message you want to send with your art? Why does that align with the college and why will they be proud to list you as one of their alumni in 10 years? An impressive portfolio is important, but accompanying that portfolio with something like “I dunno… I just like to paint.” won’t help you stand out at all.
3. Don’t fall behind in your other classes.
Have you heard of the caricature of the starving artist? It’s someone who loves painting so much that they devote all of their time to their brushes and canvas and neglect to put time into other important activities… like earning money for food. (Hence the “starving” bit.)
You’re still living with your parents so focusing entirely on your art won’t leave you hungry, but it can lead to you neglecting other things, like studying for your non-art classes. This can lead to bad grades, poor letters of recommendation from teachers, and even dropped courses!