Why should you study art


There is an ongoing discussion about studying an art degree - is it worth it or not? Studying a photography degree myself, I believe that thanks to university I gained some valuable knowledge I wouldn't be able to get without doing an art degree. I'd like to offer you my personal perspective on this.

You do your research and dig into challenging topics. Because the university is an academic institution, you will have to do your research, your readings and do your referencing. I understand this might not be the favorite part of your practice, however, it is a part of education that develops your critical thinking and your overall knowledge. You will learn how to do qualitative research and how to argue what you stand for. Moreover, this might open you the doors and be able to create about various topics you even didn't know you wanna talk about, because you haven't known about them before you did your readings... 

You learn the theory. Even though you're a contemporary artist, it's necessary to know the theory and history of your art field to be able to think in context and you should know what people have done before you, so you can get inspired or avoid doing the same things as someone did 50 years ago. With all the respect to "free expression" you should also know how to create ethical (art)work that rather helps society than causes damages.

You get the time to work on yourself. Ok, this is debatable. I feel like when being at university and being a student, no one really expects you to focus on anything else than your degree unless you want to or have to. The time at UNI is the time for your development and you should be fully focused on developing your skills. When being out of UNI, you will probably have to work. And that's also maybe my advice - focus on yourself, if you don't need to work. Do internships, but do not slave for free if you feel it's not giving you anything else than an one more line on your CV. 

You get your feedback. If you're self-taught, you probably won't receive feedback which is crucial for your practice. I am not saying that all the feedback your UNI  provides you will like and agree with. Art critiques will be always subjective. But it is also good to receive feedback and learn how to deal with it, in order to follow the brief you were given. Because as an artist who will touch the commerce world in order to earn money, you will be following briefs...

You meet the right people. University is a community. It could be said, the better university, the better community you're surrounded by... you can feel more challenged and that's what drives you forward. Inspiring tutors, talented classmates, after some time you realise you somehow built a network. This might be quite hard to achieve without studying at an art institution. Not talking about the fact that you will be surrounded by students who are probably very similar to you - open-minded art freaks. You will build friendships. Contacts. You can collaborate, share your passion and knowledge, support each other. Because you are all on the same boat. Without studying art school, I would never have that and I wouldn't meet such amazing and talented people like I did. I probably wouldn't make such progress either, because having talented classmates from all over the world, everyone focusing on different topics and everyone with a different approach or aesthetics, you learn and get inspired every day. 

You get more opportunities. Universities have often their own network and you will get to know about opportunities that are suitable for you in order to develop your practice, and some of these opportunities might be open only to the students studying at a certain institution.

You build your confidence. And finally, the university will help you to gain confidence. Not just because of all the knowledge you got, because you learned how to present and pitch your ideas, how to work in a team or some other transferable skills. For me personally, the university gave me confidence that I can change something. That people are willing to listen if I have to tell. That my inexperience and sometimes experimental approach can be viewed as something unseen and desirable. That if I work hard, it will pay off. University also allows you to compare yourself to your peers so you know, where you stand and if you need to work harder in order to be happy with your results. I believe that without studying university, this journey would take me way longer and I might not even be brave enough to keep going. 

To sum up - people are different. Someone prefers education, someone prefers to be self-taught. There are also different kinds of arts, and for every art, there is a different way to achieve success. It also depends on what you want to do in life if it's art or commerce or both. Personally, I am so happy I've decided to go and study art degree due to the benefits I mentioned above. For someone else, this wouldn't be the right path and that's fine too. Trust your guts and then decide.

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