I am Aiming to become a 3D Artist, should I drop out of Art school?
This is a question that I saw on an social website, and since it is my field of specialty, I decided to make this video to give my own opinion with reasons, in order to answer th given question: Should I Drop Out of Art School?
Should I Drop Out of Art School
If you go to art school or art university, you can expect to see different things depending on the school you are going to, and their approach of teaching.
Some of them let you get right into 3D software from day 1, which is great for a lot of people who want to dive right in, and start learning the tools to create stuff and work on projects. This can work well for those who came from a traditional art background, I mean they are already familiar with and have practiced painting or drawing for an extended period of time, which allowed them to have a solid understanding and a good foundation for diving right in to learn 3d software.
However, For others, This isn’t necessarily a good thing. Because sometimes, if the art school offers courses about the software only without enough foundation skill building, it can lead to a situation where beginner 3d artists can’t produce good quality art.
If the foundation period takes a long time to go through to complete successfully this might push a lot of new artists to think that the school is not worth it or is not going to teach them real 3d software skills that can lend them their dream job.
So some of them start thinking about following the self-taught artist’s route especially if the school coast them a considerable amount of money, and a lot of them do cost a ton of money. A lot of students find themselves in a situation where they have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt, which is not an ideal way to start your career.
A- Learning at an Art School
The majority of schools make you do foundations for 2 years before they let you touch a 3D program. This is a good and important thing for most people because the vast majority are not art practitioners from a young age. Some people are, and we call them talented or gifted artists but most people aren’t.
You will learn the basics like traditional drawing, sculpting, and principles of animation. This can make some people bored, out of their minds, and make them want to quit because they can’t see how this can possibly be related or has anything to do with creating cool character animations, VFX, or making video games. But the fact is that these skills can make you a better artist.
You can always learn software on your own. It’s just a program and not a basic artistic skill.
A lot of people misunderstand or don’t completely grasp what is the real role of school in the path of becoming a professional 3d artist.
Most of what you learn while you attend art school is in YOUR OWN TIME. You have to spend endless hours learning on your own because real learning comes when you start applying the knowledge on your own personal projects. School is there to teach you art basics and how to use 3D programs to a certain degree that allows you to be able, self-reliant, and a problem solver because they most importantly teach you how to learn.
To be honest, the real learning begins when you land your first job. To explain this better, imagine you went to the army to become a soldier that can join real battles and complete missions successfully. No matter how hard you train, you will find the real world situation harder and you will need to learn a lot more to survive because you have to take action quickly under a deadline and the consequences are real.
The foundation skills are extremely important in real situations when you are working in a studio that believes that you are going to deliver top quality work within the given deadline. Those skills allow you to be more creative, flexible, and a problem solver, not just a software user.
1- Life drawing
For example, one of the other skills that you can learn in school is Life drawing, which is an extremely useful skill. Even for 3D artists. A lot of the best 3D artists are excellent at life drawing. Drawing from life exercises, the part of your brain that identifies shapes and forms, which is invaluable to a 3D artist.
Also, a lot of animators, that are now working at the best studios or those who got well-paying jobs right out of school, focused on life drawing and studied it so much.
But this does not mean that you can’t be a good 3D artist without it because there are definitely a lot of 3D artists and animators that aren’t very good at it, or they did not study it at all but if you do study it you are going to increase your chances of becoming one of the most sought after artists that studios want to hire gladly.
Marketing is also a useful skill that a lot of schools teach because at some point You HAVE TO Learn how to sell and in this particular situation, they will teach you the art of selling yourself as an artist to your next employer because there are a lot of studios looking for talented artists but unfortunately they can’t get to them because they don’t know how to market themselves properly.
You have to make people want to invest money in you. Because they usually are paying a considerable amount of money to you as an artist and they want a return on their investment, since it’s a business, regardless of what it seems like on the surface. Marketing is probably one of the skills that can singlehandedly change your career path as an artist that’s why you need to be good at it whether you went to school or not.
Universities or schools force you to do a LOT of group projects, which, for an individual self-taught artist, will probably never experience.
No matter where you go, you will have to learn to deal with team members that will make your job easier and the work environment much better and sometimes you will find yourself working with difficult people that can create a toxic environment and you just wish they would just get out of the way.
The college experience gives you a crash course in handling difficult team-members, as well as, challenging you to produce your absolute best, when collaborating with other artists on your team.
The best-case scenario is when you, as a team player, work with other team players but this doesn’t mean that self-taught artists can’t be great in a team, also, it does not guarantee that artists that went to school will not be jerks when they join the workforce.
Although you will always meet people who don’t share your same drive and interests, you will find some that do sometimes. Just be a cool person who works on cool stuff and people will gravitate toward you and be nice around you.
Schools are great places for networking, which can be really important down the road in your career.
A lot of artists do find jobs through Friends that they studied with at school or through a recommendation from professors, especially, those who are still active in the industry. It is possible to be hired through Human Resources or a recruiter, just by going through an interview and showing them what you are capable of, but when a studio knows about you through one of their artists or professors that have some connections inside the industry, you will, probably, have higher chances of landing your first job or any other job down the road.
Some students create solid relationships with instructors, this later promises to take care of them when they graduate. In addition to that,friends can get you jobs or recommend you if they get approached by employers when their plate is already full.
Also, the importance of the foundational skills that schools teach and other advantages might not be important to you, until you spend many years in the industry, after probably, working as a junior artist, then becoming a lead and maybe, later, you start thinking about starting your own business or studio.
At this point, you will absolutely need those other skills, such as: selling your work, communicating with coworkers or employees, networking, history, current trends, and so on.
B- Learning on your own
Some people, while they are studying at art school, feel like they are running in circles and not actually getting much done. They believe that the progress or development that feels meaningful is creating art alone and on their own pace and terms, which is ok because art school is not for everybody.
You can actually master 3ds max, Maya, Blender, or cinema4d on your own because people manage to pull it off successfully all the time. As we said before, University only gives you the basics and an introduction to those 3d software skills compared to what you are going to do in an actual job, because university, basically, teaches you how to start to make animations, VFX, or video games but the heavy lifting is going to fall on your shoulders outside of their responsibility.
If your answer will be a Yes to the question: “Should I Drop Out of Art School?”, then you should know that you, definitely, are going to miss on a lot of important things but on the other hand, you are going to land a job if you have a solid portfolio that you worked on instead of going to school.
Also, one of the most important aspects of being a self-taught artist is not having to pay an insane amount of money because honestly sometimes, it is just too much for young people, even when they get a job right after graduating.
Some jobs won’t even look at those without degrees but for the most part, studios want to recruit talented artists with solid portfolios that can get the job done whether they went to school or not .
In my opinion, a degree is a piece of paper that says that you went through and completed your training. It makes it easier to land your first job but it does not guarantee for studios that you are constantly dealing with real problems that you are going to be good enough for the job so you still have to prove yourself.
C- Final thought
So the answer for the question: “Should I Drop Out of Art School?” is to stay and finish your university degree. It will teach you minor things that probably seem unimportant to you, right now. Also, having a degree after your name makes it a little bit easier to get your first job, also to boost your career later on.
But if you truly know that school is not for you or it is too expensive and you believe that you are a self-taught artist by nature and it is what you feel most comfortable with then drop off or don’t go in the first place, the most important thing is to make the right decision for you.
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