If you tell people that you’re going to get a graphic art & design degree, they’ll likely tell you to save your money, that you don’t need a degree to work in those fields. What these people are missing out on though is that a graphic art and design degree isn’t there to work as a meal ticket in and of itself. A medical degree or a legal degree is something that you need in order to work in those fields. In art and design, you don’t need the degree, you need what the degree implies.
A lot of finding work in art and design has to do with who you know, and one of the greatest things you’ll get from art and design school is a long list of connections, “ins” to the world of design, art, animation, 3D modeling and so on. This is vital. While many studios do put out open calls for job seekers, the truth is that you kind of have to know somebody in order to get the job you want. It’s very difficult to find work in this field without knowing the right people.
Through Facebook and other social media, you can build up a list of contacts over several years, but these contacts can’t hold a candle to the people you’ll meet almost overnight if you attend a school of art and design.
Learning to Fly
Then, of course, there’s the actual education that comes with the degree. There are some people who enter into art school not to learn anything useful, but to buy the credibility that comes with an art degree. This isn’t what you get with an actual art and design degree. If you take classes in design, you’re going to learn design. You’re not going to these schools to have somebody pat you on the head and tell you that your abstract finger painting is wonderful. You’re going to have serious, hard working professors turn you into a serious, hard working artist.
If you’re not willing to learn the actual science and craft of composition, perspective and lighting, then you’re free to look into art schools that charge tens of thousands in tuition each semester without teaching you anything useful. Art and design degrees are for practical people who perhaps don’t have six and seven figure trust funds and who are looking into art as a serious way to make a living. This is somewhere that you can actually get to with a degree in art and design.
Is Art and Design School for You?
The truth is that not everyone is equipped for art and design school. While it’s realistic to expect to make a living in art and design as long as you put in the work, it’s also a very long path that you’re traveling. In accounting you need only put your business card out there and find someone who needs an accountant. Making it as an artist means establishing a brand and getting your name out there, becoming a celebrity, at least within your own particular corner of the arts community.
If you can see yourself suffering, really suffering for your work, working menial jobs to pay the bills in between freelance clients, then you may just have a future in art and design. As a way to make a living, there are more efficient and more effective ways to do it, but if you are somebody who simply won’t be happy doing anything else, well then, you only live once, so you might as well live the life that you want to live.