Going to art school

Adrienne C. Fowler is a recent graduate of Rhode Island School of Design where she majored in Film/Animation/Video. She is an animator, performance artist, amateur musician, and an advocate of personal liberation. She enjoys reading things on paper and asking peoples’ zodiac signs. For more information on her work, please visit her portfolio website at http://www.adriennecfowler.com/.

1. They say, “Everything you make as a student will suck, especially during your freshman year”.

I say, “Be a slave to your work, so that once you graduate, you have a solid, presentable portfolio”.

For freshly graduated high school students, college is a liberating 4 years worth of new experiences—and distractions. While it is important to savor this time, remember that you’re here to work and improve your craft. For aspiring artists, art school is a time to experiment within the safety blanket of an institution and take risks. Adopting a schedule in which you dedicate studio time to producing work is recommended. Time in the studio can also be a hotbed for inspiration and potential friendships. Working the night away might mean you’ll miss out on some of the parties, but your time spent working will grant you with an impressive portfolio for employers once you graduate.

2. They say, “You’re a film student and you’ve seen only a few, if any, of the filmic classics? How can you make something great?”

I say, “The key to an abundance of quality production is the fine line between over and under consumption.”

During my sophomore year at art school, I found myself amongst an intelligent, exciting group of eager film students. From Ingmar Bergman to David Lynch, these students’ knowledge of film history vastly exceeded my own. At first I believed I had to consume every historically esteemed film from Citizen Cane to 2001: A Space Odyssey to catch up, but that merely resulted in vapid reproductions of preexisting concepts. Instead, I created, created, created in order to develop a personal narrative and understanding of the medium. From this method, I quickly learned and grew in technique, and I ended the semester with a series of works that I was proud of.

You can only learn so much from studying; application and practice result in real practical understanding. Justifiably, knowing art history and the history of your medium of choice (I have since expanded my repertoire of watched films) is a crucial responsibly for any artist because all art created within the context of art history. However, finding the balance between your media intake and medium output is of foremost importance.

3. They say, “Art School is just for hipsters who want to goof off, socialize, and talk about art instead of making it”.

I say, “The friends you make during school will be your future co-workers, bosses, and employers”.

Socialization, especially that regarding art, contributes to an art student’s development in countless ways. For once, you’re surrounded by likeminded (and not so likeminded) individuals that you can learn from, teach, and collaborate with. In this refreshing pit of inspiration, so much more than friendship can grow: future design partners, business co-founders, television show co-creators, and band mates lay in wait on the thriving art school campus. Even for shy types like myself, going out and conversing with professors at exhibition openings, are paths to potential job opportunities. I obtained my first internship during my sophomore year by staying after class and talking with my teacher sometimes.

4. They say, “Art School is full of competitive students trying to one up each other?

I say, “You’re not competing against other students, you’re competing against yourself”.

At Art School, you will be at a loss if you’re lazy and do not put your all into your work. You will fail if you do not turn in your final on time. That being said, do not be your own worst enemy. Like I’ve said before, the goal of being in a safe, institution for 4 years is to produce as much presentable work as possible. Instead of focusing your energy on outshining your peers, it’s more important to figure out what you want to say and how you can say it in the way that only you can. Yes the art world is competitive, but it’s not other artists you’re competing against. There are more than hundreds of thousands of artists in America alone, but instead of thinking about that formidable figure, realize that none of those artists can create work like you. Dreamy as it may sound, it’s vital to realize your strengths and weakness and do what you do best. Always listen to your gut, and always do you.

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