It’s one question I keep coming back to. Should I do a degree in art?
I’ve said before, I stopped formal art study after my “A” levels. The experience was something of a trial. I hated spending 6-12 weeks on the same paintings. I was drawn to figures and portraits – we did none, except a few copying statues, not the same thing at all. I hated my art teacher, everything felt wrong!
Everything went wrong…
Discouraged from working as an artist, I began to wonder if I could ever be creative enough for a career or if I’d get bored. So I train and work successfully as an Occupational therapist! But that yearning to be an artist, study at art school never really went away. My problems was lack of discipline, I’d draw intermittently but was often disappointed with the results. I’d be discouraged and give up, telling myself I wasn’t cut out to be an artist!
It’s taken a looooonnng time to realise I needed the discipline. But much less to develop it once I admitted it to myself!
Fast forward many years and I’ve overcome many of my art demons, but one still lingers, should I go to art school? Why ask now, you may be wondering? Well, I’ve been looking at art opportunities and sooo many are for recent graduates.
In addition, there’s the public perception that a degree qualifies you as artist in ways that being self taught does not. I’ve done further education but not a degree – although I always maintain that my course was much harder than most of the degrees my friends were doing (Ironically, it’s now a degree course!) Something in me feels cheated, inferior, like there’s something missing in my education. Or maybe it’s something of me missing. The question is whether a degree would fill the void?
Degrees and professional qualifications are funny things. There’s a public perception that if you hold the degree/diploma you are qualified. But anyone who works in any profession knows. When you get the degree/diploma you may be qualified but you’re a nobody until you’re experienced! Experience trumps qualified most of the time. ( I include knowledge in experience) You want a doctor to be qualified but he needs to have experience using that knowledge if it is to be of any value.
Such is the case with art.
If you’ve seen graduate artists… I rest my case.
The 2 need to coexist. Which brings me back to the degree again. Truth is, I don’t know. I’d like to think if I do a degree my career will blossom. Do I believe that? Of course I don’t, too many years of being a cynic are not going to evaporate overnight!
When I decided to make art my career I had modest ambitions. But, you know what? I’ve discovered that I am ambitious, I want to succeed, I want to be innovative and I don’t think I’m over the hill and past doing it.
So what if it’s taken me nearly 30 years to reach that conclusion? Does that make it impossible?
Is a degree going to help that? At this stage in my career, possibly… but probably not!
What do you think?