View Full Version : accepted to AI LA , Art Center, Otis

05 May 2010, 12:55 AM
so I have been accepted to all three of these Areas within my home town of LA: AI, art center, otis..
my goal is to become a concept artist/ illustrator for video games, movies, entertainment in general.
Now upon visiting both art institute of california - los angeles and art center.
my choice was far more to art center but the cost of tuition is overwhelming. due to special circumstances I basically will recieve a large amount of financial aid but not until the next year. meaning i would be paying a full years worth of tuition at art center. now I've heard alot of negatives about AI but its much much much cheaper than art center and if its going to lead me to a more secure chance of getting a job that could be better for me. Anyone have any info/ advice for me. Otis is another choice but for being the same price as art center basically id rather go to art center.

05 May 2010, 03:40 AM
Ai doesn't really have any programs geared towards concept art or illustration. Doesn't mean you won't have some traditional classes, but if that's what you're looking to do, it's not going to be a good choice.

05 May 2010, 05:56 AM
Art Center is the strongest for entertainment design, Otis is good for general digital art (their strength is in motion graphics, but they also have concentrations in concept art and 3d). Otis' concept art program (more of a concentration) is relatively new - there are some very good concept art teachers at Otis (the entire God of War team teaches there). That said, Art Center is more of an established program. If it's down to money, I'd go with Otis over AI any day. I never recommend students to AI.

If you only have to pay for a year of Art Center, I'd say it's worth it...they just have a really strong entertainment design program. Be sure however that you know you are accepted into the Entertainment Design program before you go into the school, however, as it's possible to be accepted into the Illustration program, but never be accepted into the ED program.

Edit - if you wanted to bolster your portfolio, you could take classes at the community college level and then apply for scholarship money. It's possible to build up your portfolio on the cheap at the cc level and save a lot of money if you get a scholarship. You have to have an exceptional portfolio and be exceptionally hard working.

As an example, my star high school student who is graduating this year, with whom I worked on a weekly basis privately for 2 years (sophomore to senior year) received several scholarships:

$21,600 Per Year Scholarship from CCA (California College of the Arts) in San Francisco
$46,000 Scholarship ($11,500 per year) from Otis College of Art
$32,006 / year to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design)
$46,228 / year to USC (University of Southern California)

Work smarter, not harder (or more expensively).

05 May 2010, 08:32 PM
Thank you both for responding to me.

maybe I should provide more information.
I got accepted to the illustration program at art center but i was told by a counselor there that entertainment design is limited to the very elite few and my portfolio showed stronger aspects of that in illustration. With this being said he also mentioned that if you take the entertainment track in illustration you end up building your skills up for something rather similar to the entertainment major.

with this being said, the school wowed me, the student work was killer and it felt right.

The financial issue is this. My father lost his job and was forced into retirement. his pension pay was given out to him last year but it just so happens that FAFSA and Cal Grant use last years financial information to decide the amount they will grant to you. we worked out the figures with what he currently receives and then with what he did receive so if i was to go to art center I would end up paying pretty much full tuition the first year and then if the figures are similar to that at ai half tuition each year thereafter.

I guess my question is kind of boiling down to this.
Is it worth going straight to art center paying nearly 50 thousand dollars the first year with no financial aid or going to say Gnomon or Community college and then re applying the next year with the financial information that should receive much more aid.

As another note I have no experience with digital art. I want to learn as It's my passion to become an entertainment artist. I was told I had impressive illustrating abilities would this change your recommendation at all.

05 May 2010, 08:35 PM
Reapply next year and save yourself 50k. Go to a cc in the meantime and save yourself 40 years of paying off debt. It's as simple as that.

Edit - Art Center will lure you in thinking eventually you'll get into entertainment. I've known kids who've gone through ACCD's illustration program and not gotten into ED. So if you go this year, you're out 50K, and your ED classmates, who will have the edge over you, will be in competition with you while you're in 50K of debt. In metaphorical terms, you'll be rowing against Olympians with a broken paddle and a whale tied to your canoe.

05 May 2010, 09:11 PM
thank you very much for that advice. Do you know anything about gnomon? I just discovered the site and it looks appealing but i'm thinking the entertainment course they teach there is for people who already have skills using digital media.

the tuition there for a year is something like 18k, also does a cc like smc teach concept art/ digital design (for beginners) etc.

05 May 2010, 09:30 PM
I think Gnomon is a great place for a post-undergraduate student (someone already with an undergraduate degree) - Gnomon won't give you an undergraduate degree, nor an undergraduate experience (you'd get a certificate, and take all of your classes in an industrial building in a gritty area of Hollywood). (Note that the founder of Gnomon has a couple of degrees himself). If you are a totally mature person ready to go straight into the workforce after 2 years (assuming you would start working right away - no guarantee there), then Gnomon could be good for you. If you need some time to have fun, mature, get a broad based experience, etc., Gnomon won't provide that. There are long discussions on the board about the pros and cons of degrees. I am personally pro-degree, but many others will swear that only your portfolio matters for your job. Something that also matters for the job (but before that, for you as a person) is the experience that you would get over 4 years at an art school. You'll have more time to develop your skills and creativity. You'll also develop crucial friendships and connections that are based on living with or near one another, etc. (Neither Gnomon nor Art Center provide housing, incidentally - Otis doesn't officially, either, but there are apartments right across the street from the school that many students live in as unofficial dorms. It's a huge advantage, I think, of Otis over Art Center, as a community feeling exists at Otis that does not at Art Center or Gnomon).

Said that, Art Center is not your traditional, 4 year school. (I attended for illustration years back). It's not a feel good / have a great time university environment, it's a school in a cold industrial building that churns out good artists in a somewhat industrial manner. If you are extremely driven and focused, it's the school for you. It tends to turn out a very 'me' oriented kind of person - Otis fosters a more community based kind of feeling.

Both Gnomon and Art Center are finishing schools. They're not the places to develop basics - Art Center has deliberately scaled back its foundation program and its counselors advise students that they should get their foundations at the cc level or elsewhere. It really should advertise itself as a graduate school - were you to go through the entire program without breaks, it would only take 2.5 years, as opposed to the traditional 4 of a university or other undergraduate art school.

Gnomon would likely accept you, they advertise that they look for traditional work in portfolios. They want you to pay them to teach you the digital stuff so they are mainly looking for perceptual abilities.

I don't advise high school students to go straight into Gnomon or Art Center unless they are very mature and know exactly what they want. Personally I spent 1 1/2 years at a university prior to Art Center and it was definitely worth the experience.

Given your personal financial situation, you're far better off waiting. SMC (Santa Monica College) has a well regarded program where you could get some basics + computer training. For painting, Nathan Ota is a great teacher who teaches at Otis and SMC, also David Simon (an amazing sculptor) teaches sculpture at SMC. I've heard for years that they have a good digital program which would at least act as a primer and allow you to quiz your fellow students as to what their advice would be. There are a ridiculous number of avenues to study art in LA. I'd advise you not to hit the 50K button too soon but to consider a broader range of options, which, if pursued over a year, would allow you to develop a better portfolio to resubmit for more scholarship $ at your dream school.

As a general note, whether or not a school will accept you is not always a good indicator of whether or not you are ready to go there. If your classmate has spent a year or more bolstering their portfolio and raising their skill level, and you start off as a complete beginner in the same program, you'll both have been accepted, but the other person will still be starting stronger. Schools will always take your $, you have to be smart enough to be the one in charge of your education.

05 May 2010, 04:41 AM
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05 May 2010, 04:32 AM
hello, thought I would give an update for those who were helping me out here.

I recently visited Otis and lucky for me it was the student showcase setup so I got to see what kind of work was coming out of the digital media classes and wow was I impressed. The work was awesome.

so basically otis is cheaper than Art center, 10 minutes from my home ( im living at home to save money), and maybe doesn't have as well of an established name in media arts as art center but from what I saw, Name is not everything. If everything goes right financially it looks like Otis is my choice.

05 May 2010, 05:39 PM
hello, thought I would give an update for those who were helping me out here.

I recently visited Otis and lucky for me it was the student showcase setup so I got to see what kind of work was coming out of the digital media classes and wow was I impressed. The work was awesome.

so basically otis is cheaper than Art center, 10 minutes from my home ( im living at home to save money), and maybe doesn't have as well of an established name in media arts as art center but from what I saw, Name is not everything. If everything goes right financially it looks like Otis is my choice.That sounds like a good solution. Feel free to drop by the class I teach at Otis if you're there in the Fall, it's a Figure Drawing Workshop on Mondays, 3:15-6:15 pm in Room 605. There are many wonderful Foundation Life Drawing teachers at Otis - Foundation and Digital Media are definitely Otis' strengths.

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