We all are a little guilty of judging others based on their majors – the classic example is hating on philosophy majors by not-so-secretly thinking, “what are they going to do with that?” Art students face the same issues, but don’t have the same mainstream outlet to vent about it. Here’s their chance to rant.
1. Introduce yourself – specific major, name, class.
Alexandra Tults, Communications Design, Class of 2017
Delaney Kuric, Computer Art/Illustration, Class of 2017.
2. What stereotypes surround art students?
Alex: People tend to think art students are weird kids who like anime, drugs, and looking at naked people. Guess which ones are true.
3. Did your parents support your decision to make art a career?
Delaney: My parents were skeptical about me becoming an art student since it seemed like they were giving their blessing as I pranced into poverty but in the end they wanted me to do whatever made me happy. Even so my mom always asks if I wouldn’t rather be a business major.
Alex: My parents have always been supportive of my ambitions to pursue art. In third grade I decided that I wanted to become a famous painter (I can still dream) and my parents saw absolutely nothing wrong with that. I come from a family of artists, with my mom majoring in Illustration, my dad majoring in Advertising Design, and my sister studying printmaking and sculpture. The last thing they could do is doubt my decision to do the same.
4. What types of anxiety surround your decision?
Alex: Though making money is the obvious answer, my greatest anxieties have always been caused by my perpetual indecision, in every aspect of my life. I went through a particularly challenging period where I questioned my decision to pursue art. I wanted to be sure that I was pursuing what I loved the most, and I was worried there could be another option out there that I hadn’t explored yet. Then, I realized that the only thing I had ever really enjoyed was art and that my anxieties were stupid and just another reason to avoid making real life decisions. I’m still anxious about money, though.
Delaney: Money, money, monaaaaaaaay. The term “starving artist” is far too common for anyone to believe that an art career is super secure and cushy. You’re on such a strict budget in school that you’re always trying to find ways to save money as a student, but what if you graduate then don’t have a job that pays well. You’ll be in debt and still living in a way that you’re constantly trying to find deals just to have enough to make ends meet. Plus I’ve always been unsure of what my true passion is, and although art is definitely at the top right now, it’s hard to be successful in this field if you don’t want it 110%. Overall it’s just a lot of uncertainty and stress and it’s the reason I curl up under my blanket to cry at night.
5. What are daily struggles that are unique to art students?
Delaney: Scavenging for dismembered babydoll parts, losing precious brain cells when painting for too long, and looking at a lot of naked people (for business and pleasure) to name a few.
Alex: Changing my project ideas 100 times, having to walk to campus every evening to do assignments because I don’t have my own studio space yet, and when people use open studio as a time to blast their terrible music. I’m on the fence about whether or not looking at naked people is actually a struggle.
6. Describe the logistics of art programs.
Alex: The application process for most art programs is pretty rigorous. In addition to the application itself as well as supplementary essays, you must include a portfolio. This is a collection of usually 10-20 examples of your best work, and every school has different requirements so your portfolio has to be tailored differently for each application. Additionally, a lot of the explicitly “Art” schools like RISD, Parsons, and The Cooper Union have additional projects that must be completed during the application process to include in your portfolio.
Once I finally escaped the prison of college applications, studio classes came in and took over my life. Studio classes are typically 4.5 hours in length (some standing), though students often stay much longer than that. Most teachers require just as much time spent working outside of class, as well. I remember my first trip to the Warehouse (the design building) when one of the students told me that their studios were often drawn out 7-8 hours. People keep pillows and blankets under their desks. I’ve seen hell (my future), and it’s terrifying.
7. What parts of art classes are more similar to typical academic classes?
Delaney: Contrary to popular belief we still have to buy textbooks, write essays, and do a lot of typical academic activities. And we have to do it on top of mounds of art homework. So next time you say you wish you could do “arts and crafts” for homework, kindly step off.
Alex: In addition to what Delaney said, we have to spend a ton of money on art supplies. “How much could pencils and paper cost?” Let’s just say I spent nearly $300 for my photography class alone, and that was after the student discount.
8. Can you describe how people tend to “put you in a box” based on your major?
Delaney: People always assume that art is a last resort option because we aren’t good at more traditional disciplines. Although sometimes that’s true, most art majors have talents and interests outside of art that supplement their work. For example, I am a baller at english and physics. Boom. That was the sound of your mind being blown.
Alex: I originally went into college with the goal of dual majoring in Fine Arts and either Journalism or Environmental Science. I only decided against it because I realized I simply didn’t have the time.
9. What are some of the ridiculous comments people make that demonstrate the lack of appreciation and ignorance regarding art students?
“But it’s just drawing so it shouldn’t be that hard.” “You’re so lucky your homework is fun.” “ So what do you want to do with that degree? Teach?” “Oh, you’re an art major? Are you good at it?” (Well I’d hope so.) “What is figure drawing? NAKED PEOPLE?! Is that required? No? Ew.” “Can you draw this for me?” (No, I will not be exploited.) “Did you draw that?” (It’s in my sketchbook, my pencil is touching the paper, you literally watched me draw it. YES I DREW IT.)
10. What are your favorite parts of being an art major?
Delaney: It’s what I want to do with my life so I have to take the good with the bad, and honestly the good often outweighs the bad. There’s nothing quite like seeing yourself improve so that you can better bring your vision to life. Plus I’ll admit it is also fun to have “arts and crafts” homeworks. Also naked people.
Alex: My favorite part is definitely imagining the future of my art education and career. Almost nothing excites me more than thinking about having my own studio/desk space to really get into my work. The dream of moving to New York City to be a graphic designer for a music or arts publication is what gets me up in the morning. Layouts, man.
The Bottom Line: An art major is no joke and nothing to belittle. It takes talent and dedication and, admirably, it takes courage to pursue what one loves. I’m so proud to call these girls my friends and I’m equally excited to see what they’ll do in life – in and outside of art.