Art School - Do What You Want
I’m at a community college prepping for transfer to a University next year. Being a student of Graphic Design I have had to deal with a wide array of teaching styles, input levels, and suggestions that border on control. Most teachers do not realize their level of influence and what pressure they are putting on art students.
That being said, teachers are humans. They are fallible and can make mistakes regardless of how long they have been a teacher. I’m sure many other art students have had to deal with teachers who want students to do work the way they would have done it. And if your situation is anything like mine you have likely been told that your style just is ‘wrong’. Recently a teacher informed me that my work is too ‘melodramatic’ and ‘not expressive enough’. He also told me my work needed to be ‘edgier’. What this teacher fails to realize is that ‘melodramatic’ and ‘edgy’ mean exactly the same thing to me. I am a product of modern culture. My influences are comic books, modern illustration, graphic design, digital painting, and animation. These are art work styles heavily dependent on fine and precise line work. This is my style and what I have been pressing myself to do more of since I started the whole art thing nearly two years ago.
It has been continually frustrating to feel as though I am not gaining any valuable skills from my classes. The feedback I’m getting has not been to direct me on better application of my medium, or perhaps changing a composition to have a different focal point, etc. The feedback has been frustration with my personal style. Granted, if I were given an assignment by a client and they wanted a particular art style I would have to make myself do that. But when a class like ‘drawing 2’ which does not have a defined medium OR style, and is heavily directed by the students interest, I am not going to sacrifice my personal style or interests for the sake of a teacher that does not understand modern art.
I feel as though you can not truly understand modern art without a heavy investment of time in the internet. The digital age is truly upon us. We can share art with people around the world the instant we are finished with a piece. We have created creative communities that discuss and view each others’s work, comment on approach, and watch each other’s processes. We have created a space where art is ever changing and personal styles are appreciated and admired. This is truly an inspirational community of people to me. That influence is carried with me through all of my work. And I can not deny it.
So what do you do? Do you force yourself to do ambiguous assignments defined only by the word ‘edgy’? Do you draw sad looking faces to discuss depression because your teacher doesn’t like how you communicated it?
If you’re me – no. There is a difference between ‘learn color theory with this assignment’ and ‘do something edgy’. If the teacher is trying to demand you go a certain way by degrading you or your personal style it is your choice to not listen. Do what you want to do.
I understand this can be frustrating or frightening given that these people affect your grade. But sacrificing your art – one of the most true and honest things about you – for a grade and a teacher that will pass in time? Not worth it in my opinion.
Take every critique with a grain of salt and only take away from it what you find worth while. Otherwise – smile and nod and say ‘yes teach’. Then do what you want.