Gnomon straight after high school? HELP?


To start it all off, i live on the far east coast, and Im currently 17.

I wanted to apply to Gnomon school of visual effects and take the two year program but a lot of people have been telling me to go to a “real” college and get a degree first.

I thought concept art was about skill and connections, but apparently some people think otherwise? I understand that a degree helps with jobs but is it necessary, and how far will you get with it? I’d hate to waste time and money in an overly expensive college and end up in debt afterwards…

Any advice would help A LOT, thank you guys!

(I had an interview with admissions and they said that my portfolio good and i should take two year program, but i honestly… i dont know what to do. :c its 60k and no degree… )



First of all, congrats on making such a strong portfolio while still in high school! That’s seriously impressive.

The vast majority of employers in the entertainment industry won’t care if you have a degree. However, if you ever want to work outside the country (and, especially for VFX, not being willing to work outside the country will limit your options a lot) having a degree makes it much, much easier to get a visa.

My advice is to apply to a couple four year colleges, see how much they’re willing to give you in financial aid, and then make your decision from there.


I’d like to see it too but the link doesn’t work for me. “Page cannot be found” is all I get.


Oops! Sorry about that.


Thank you, i really appreciate that (;u;)~

I see, do a lot of VFX workers work outside of the united states? Do they actually go overseas to work? (Also thank you for your insight on this topic, I was not aware of this until now.)


You have a strong portfolio. If concept art is your ultimate goal though, then why Gnomon? I’d say you’d probably benefit far more from a more traditional arts course at a university.


QFA. Save the money, spend it on living and try to get a job, shouldn’t be too hard with an impressive portfolio like yours.


Thank you. Well, concept art is my dream job but I currently don’t see that many openings for a concept art jobs popping up, (perhaps this is untrue, I am still inexperienced) I am afraid that if a concept art job is not available, I can still do modeling and do concept art on the side. Also, I want to move to california since there are many more VFX jobs on the east coast, and my parents wish for me to attend some sort of institution rather than just trying to teach myself through videos.
Are there any universities that you recommend?

The ones in my area are completely fine arts based, or have a bad curriculum and cost more than gnomon… :C I fear that I will not be able to make connections and find a job.

Thanks for your advice!


Thank you, I still fear the future though, unemployment and no degree is a dangerous route :C


Wow! Your portfolio looks great! Congrats on that.

I know your all about VFX right now, but have you looked into medical illustration? You’ll need an undergrad in anatomy and a masters in medial illustration, but after you graduate, you should have good job options. I know even in Indiana, you can make around 70K per year if your good and fast. That’s probably close to or over 100K in Cali or the east coast. Plus I’m sure the hours would be better.



strong portfolio! you’ve gotten so far on your own, it would be wise to avoid expensive schools when choosing college or uni…If I were you, I’d try and get as much exposure as possible…ask about internships from your schools career services or companies that are in your area, most likely you’ll be given college credit for it but there are a few good companies that might even pay you…but your main goal now is to get their contacts on your resume and to get exposure in the industry, so that you can build a strong portfolio and an equally strong resume at an early stage in your career.

again, I would avoid attending expensive schools, think of ways of how to earn money with your skills instead of spending more. if possible, apply for scholarships! i’m sure you’re more than qualified for one. you’re almost there. good luck!



Yeah, it’s pretty common. When a bunch of new studios open up where ever the newest big subsidy is, they need to bring in talent from overseas.


Like the others have said, you’ve got a great portfolio.

I think the advice here has been smart. As has been mentioned, I don’t think anyone looking to hire an artist in VFX is in the slightest bit interested in a degree, but the visa thing is something worth considering.

I’d echo what Leigh says about suggesting the fine art route, if concept is your focus. You’re right to value networking, it’s vitally important, but much more important is to get your skills to the highest level that you can. It’s a tough industry of course, but if your skills are right, you’ll be able to get your foot in the door, and once you’re in, networking is easy - and free.

If you’re headed to California, it’s maybe worth taking a look at the Golden Gate Atelier. You still have the problem of it not being accredited, and I’m sure it’s hella expensive, but it’ll be a great environment to hone your skills. Andrew Ameral, one of the founders, came from the concept art route before focusing full time on fine art. As such constructive drawing forms a part of their curriculum, rather than the solely sight size approach that predominates in other ateliers, which is less useful when it comes to drawing/painting from imagination.


Thanks! :C Perhaps I shall look into college, I mean I could get into an ivy league with grades but I would prefer not to… It just seems like a waste of four years but perhaps I am wrong…

Thats very true! Wow thanks for the link, thats helpful and I will definitely look into attending. Thank you for all your help.


Thanks AJ!
I have looked into medical illustration actually, but a lot of medical illustrators have to go through lots of traditional schooling first so 4 years +2 years of grad school… anatomy and medial are the fun parts of illustration, I think also basic chem and other sciences are involved and degrees in the sciences are preferred… Many medical illustrators are freelance, but I personally just dont enjoy drawing golgi aparattuses all day haha… Thanks for the advice though!

  If your an Ivy League quality applicant, have you looked at any of the elite California schools like Stanford, UC Berkeley, or UCLA? 
  I could be wrong, but I've got a feeling Stanford and UC Berkeley would be pretty well connected with Pixar and ILM. 
  One of the nice things about going to a 4 year school is the people you meet, and the new experiences and ideas your opened up to.  Keep in mind the number of companies that were formed from relationships that started in college. I know Gnomom is in Hollywood and that seems like the cool place to be, but Westwood, Palo Alto, and Berkeley are pretty happening places to be as well. 

As others have said, if you ever want to work in Europe, NZ, or Australia, having a BS degree or higher from a good school could be vital in getting a work visa. 

Assuming you’ve taken a full load of AP or IB classes, and maybe even some college classes already, you can probably start as an academic sophomore at some places. If you take summer classes, you could get your BS in under 3 years.



There computer science departments certain are, but not their art departments. Anyone who wants to be a concept artist is not going to be happy with either Stanford or UC Berkeley’s art programs. They’re not terrible, but they’re very, very fine-artsy.

If you want a general university in the Bay Area with a good program for concept artists, look at San Jose State University.


In a forum like this one, many people zero in on the best path to a career. That’s certainly a worthwhile perspective, but when it comes to education it isn’t the whole story. While you’re considering your options, please also keep your mind open to the value of the general education and liberal arts coursework that comes with a traditional college education.

I hold a degree in visual effects and made it through about 25% each of programs in electrical engineering and computer science. All of the technical and career-oriented courses I took were certainly useful, but the classes that have had the most significant impact on my life—the way I think about things and my ability to interact with people—were my courses in history, anthropology, literature and philosophy, among others.

And if your goal is concept art, then that segment of your education is even more valuable because it will give you a richer understanding of culture, history and the world to draw upon while you develop ideas.

That all said, be wise about how you go about getting that education. If you head for a trade school like Gnomon, you can put off the general education stuff until a little while later, taking night and weekend courses while you’re working. If you go for a degree program, think about getting an associates degree from a cheaper community college or state university first—most general education credits should transfer to a more specialized school.

Finally, avoid going into too much debt for your education, no matter the direction you take. Having huge monthly debt payments on top of struggling with basic living expenses can seriously limit your flexibility. There have been a few potentially great opportunities I’ve had to turn down because I couldn’t afford to take a risk thanks to the student loan debt I’m carrying.

Best of luck!


I’m in my final semester at a 4-year school in California studying 3D for Film/Commercials. We have programs for concept art, cg, and motion graphics and I have to say that while we all get a good basis in our areas of interest and the classes certainly generate a lot of good projects for our portfolio/reels, the thing that you’re really going to school for is the network. All of my professors are working professionals at some of the top commercial, film and game companies in LA and all of my classmates are also entering the industry, giving me a good starting network. I think it’ll be hard for you at 17 trying to enter the workplace for concept art, considering that concept art is a very small and close-knit side of our industry. I have friends that go to Gnomon and a few professors that also teach there and I think it is a really smart choice and I wish I had known about Gnomon when I graduated high-school, but I ended up a really expensive private four-year art school. The guys coming out of Gnomon are always top-notch. They get worked really really hard there and at the end of their two years they are completely ready to enter the industry. I think going to Gnomon for two years at $60,000 is way smarter than attending a four-year college for more than $150,000.

Also, your concept art is really strong for a 17-year old, looks a lot better than some of the stuff coming out of other college-level programs. Congratulations. Also, from my experience and the things I’ve heard from my peers, no one in the states gives a damn if you have a degree or not. They just want you to make great art and not be a jackass.

PS. I’m from the East Coast and moved to LA to get into this industry, too. Moving to LA is a great experience in itself and you’re going to have a blast out here (if you can ever get out of the labs at school, that is). Best of luck.

TLDR; The people Gnomon is chugging out are great and it’s well worth your money if you are willing and mature enough to put in the work.


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