Today's Question: Is art school a must?
School is always a must and I don't really think it matters much what sort of schooling (a night course, 4 years of college or at technical school). It just matters that you are driven and you get new ideas in your head (your career may just move slower, like mine, if you're self taught). I'm sure a prestigious art school would do wonders for your career but I don't have the luxury of that experience to tell. Such as in Stockholm, everyone who graduates from Beckmans design college goes on to major success (seriously everyone, I swear!). Because I don't have a degree from that specific school or one of the other top Swedish art and design schools most people won't give me the time of day in Stockholm (this statement is of course a bit harsh and not entirely true, hehe). I would say Parsons is the American equivalent.
Went applying to University I applied to two schools, one State school and one good art school. I was accepted into both but chose the State school over art school because I got a 100% scholarship and the thought of having no debt after University was just too good to pass up. The State school of course had an art program but my 4 years there in no way prepared me for a career in art. (It almost put me off actually, with teachers constantly telling us that most of us won't go on to careers in art.) I of course fine tuned my creativity and techniques in drawing and painting but I didn't learn anything about digital techniques, branding or marketing. (I actually took one computer art class which was a serious disappointment and a complete joke... our teacher could hardly turn on a computer.)
Everything I learned about digital illustration or working a freelance business I learned from trail and error by myself on my own time. I'm sure if I had gone to the art school which had a specific illustration program I would have been more knowledgable after graduating and would have been able to work directly as an illustrator but who knows. (I probably would have had to keep waitressing just to pay off my student loans, blah.)
It may have taken me a longer time to establish my business and skills but the experience (and lack of debt) is worth it to me. I also love that I'm not restricted to the design rules etc that one would learn in design/art school. I've definitely learned to do my own thing. But if you have the opportunity (and major talent) to get into a well known great art/design school I would definitely take it!
Photoshop isn't that hard to master if you take the time to really work with it. Running an Etsy business is rather easy too, with all of their great insightful newsletters, interviews and help for freelance artists Etsy provides. Managing your taxes, book-keeping, and finances is easy too, there are many online resources (though I have help from family members who work in banking thankfully.) Plus you can always put yourself out there and ask for help from someone you admire. (This is something I need to work on... asking for help.)
I would say the point of this rant is that even if you don't get into a top design art school it is still possible to work a career in art. Happiness!
p.s. Getting accepted into Beckmans is insanely difficult and competitive. Going to their student exhibitions is extremely inspiring though. I try to go every year to gain some major inspiration and to see what is new and fresh in the art and design world. (Almost like a free course, hehe)