Art School... or Regular University?

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  08 August 2013
Art School... or Regular University?

As a rising senior, something I've been struggling with is whether to go to art school and receive the specific training I want to become a concept artist, or to go to a "regular" university and learn art there, albeit probably traditional studio art, while also getting education in different subjects.

My GPA and SAT scores are good (4.2 and 2200-2300 respectively) and my parents would prefer if I attend a good public university, or an Ivy League school if I make it in. While I'm not opposed to attending a good university, I'm afraid that I won't get the training or the opportunities to work as an artist in the entertainment industry. No matter what school I end up attending, I intend on getting a BFA, so a public school is appealing to my parents because they want me to have a backup option and a second degree, seeing as how art careers are rarely prolific. RISD is a strong option I've been considering because of its connections to Brown, but I'm not sure if it's worth its tremendous price tag.

With all of this in mind, I would love some advice as to which path to take in order to achieve my dream of working in the film/video game industry. An help would be greatly appreciated; thank you!

my gallery is here, for those that are interested:
  08 August 2013

1) I understand your Asian parents want you to get a backup degree or go to an ivy league, but if you are sure you want to be a concept artist and that it is a realistic goal (judging from your current work, it's certainly possible) then you should go for it 100%. Don't make compromises that might hurt your chances of being the most successful artist you can be.

Personally, I went to Carnegie Mellon because they had an art program and my parents liked that it was a solid overall University. It turned out that their animation program was undeveloped and I didn't get the kind of training I wanted. I still think I'd be further along in my career if i had gone to a school that specialized in 3d/animation. So don't make a decision you'll regret like me.

2) Most college "fine art" programs nowadays focus on conceptual/abstract art (Damien Hirst, Marina Abramovic, etc...). These programs are not going to help you become a better concept artist, so make sure you do your research and avoid art programs like that.

3) Look for programs geared towards "illustration" or "entertainment design" and apply for schools that are specifically geared towards the entertainment industry: Calarts, Ringling, AAU, BYU etc... They will give you the connections that you will need to break into the industry.
"You do modeling? ...but you're too ugly."
  08 August 2013
Thanks for the help!
Would it be viable to attend a more specialized school after getting a degree at a standard art school or university? (I'm worried that might be too needless and expensive)
And how much merit do online courses have? I know Gnomon and some other entertainment design schools offer them.
  08 August 2013
There are some general universities with very good entertainment art programs, though only a handful. Check out San Jose State, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Herfordshire (if you're willing to go overseas), Texas A&M (though they focus more on the technical side of 3d), and Brigham Young (if you don't mind a super conservative atmosphere). I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting about.

That being said, I definitely would not recommend perusing a second degree while in any of those programs, unless it is something that closely relates to art (say, computer graphics with an emphasis on graphics). You won't have time to devote the effort you need to be a successful artist while pursuing an entirely different course of study.

Last edited by Meloncov : 08 August 2013 at 08:53 AM.
  08 August 2013
Before you go into any kind of University make sure it is something you REALLY want to do. I cannot emphasize this enough. Do a few things:

1.) Look into the course descriptions. See if it is something you think will help you when it comes to your desired future profession. Also, see if the university has an open house or some kind of event that includes current students or alumni representing their work or giving presentations.

2.) See if you can contact any alumni from that specific degree. The degree I am currently taking has a lot of alumni that are either jobless or are in a career that they did not want, but had no choice. Unfortunately I found this out during an IGDA meeting. I was in my sophomore year in college so I didn't really have a choice but to continue.

3.) This sorta ties in with #2. Contact the administrator or any kind of representative to see if they can give you a list of successful alumni. If they can't even do that, then there's a chance that the degree is probably something you don't want. Also, if they do give a list, that is something you can show off to your parents. I'm trying to convince my parents to help me enter a Masters Degree and this is one of the things that definitely raised eyebrows.

4.) This is unrelated, but good work on your portfolio! I have been told that spending time outside of class can be a lot more helpful than only doing work in class. A lot of companies like to hear that. Try to enter a game jam if you can. I entered one last year and had the best time of my life.

Sorry this is so long. I hope it will help you out!
  08 August 2013
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