There are many other less expensive academic art programs ranging from community colleges through the land grant institutions and private colleges to enterprises as elite as RISD. None, some, many, or all may provide good cost benefit return to a particular person.
As someone trained in an academic studio environment - four years at graduate level for architecture - I strongly disagree with the author's suggestion that an online community can provide the equivalent to a shared studio. Talking to other makers is not a replacement from working alongside them 60 - 80 hours a week.
None of this is to suggest that higher education in the US is not grossly exploitive of young people, or that any art school has value for every individual or that an artist cannot further their education on their own.
As someone trained in a studio art background, I totally agree. This is also why I don't think online learning will ever truly replace university. People always discount the effect other people have on their personal/professional growth.
Of course, some subset of students will want a university and will be able to afford it; but in the far future, that will be a very small fraction of the current college fairing crowd.
Plenty are as prepared creatively as art school graduates. Seems that it depends on what your peers appreciate, how good they are, how high their standards are. In some art schools you may end up in a less skilled group just like on some internet cliques/forums.
These are the required tools in order to become a superior traditional artist.
I think the primary mistake that the author makes is boiling art down into a collection of techniques. With this view they can easily argue that each of these techniques can be easily learned and replicated through online education. No reasonable artist would go to RISD and pay that much just to learn better techniques. If they wanted to do that they could just stay home and watch Bob Ross. Instead they to work with and be taught by the very good artists and students. And its these connections that make a RISD education worth 245k.
But to come to some kind of conclusion, art is not just a skill, at a very low level stops being about the artists technique and about its meaning, or communicative properties. Art education thrives on peer review, and the community around it. As a form of communication, you need to do and present art to other people, because without review, you can never understand how well you are communicating.
I think programming is very much an art and that the ideal forum for teaching people to program looks a lot like an art studio.
Manifesto: Take the computers out of the lab and put them into the programming studio.
All of my feedback was through the internet. There were entire genres of digital art fed by the internet and absent from art schools.
I also went to a cheap state art/design school after. Doing the same critique/feedback stuff I did online IRL is nothing special. Especially when people surrounding you are years behind making presentable work. It's probably harder to achieve aesthetic mastery with non-digital art, which some peers did in art high schools.
I've never been to a US art school, I am on my way to my second year in an Israeli school (Shenkar).
Although I do not think it is justified by ANY means that any education costs as much as the author mentioned the RISD program costs ($200K+), I do know that art school for me has been a challenging and amazing experience, and here is why I would recommend it even if you do not want to be a designer, but just want to get your creative bearings rolling for a few years:
1. Assuming that you make it to a competitive program, you will most likely be with high quality people who are hard workers. Its been an absolute pleasure for me to kick it with some of the coolest and most creative people in Israel at my school.
2. Design is an enormous field, and although you can expose yourself to many things on the internet, what some schools are able to bring you (not necessarily all) is experience, expertise, a social life, hands on practice with your friends at school, critique by your teachers and classmates, the ability to see how you fare in contrast to others among many more things.
3. To branch off from that last point, since design is such an enormous field, you might think you want to do one thing, but after talking to so many teachers who are deep in the heart of the field you might switch. I was sure I would study to be a web designer/web dev, but all I want to do now is motion design.
4. This is your time to be creative. Do it within the most creatively inclined framework possible, with as many people who are like-minded as possible. There are not many opportunities for this kind of thing--if you go to design school you can mess around and be creative until you dont feel like it anymore, and then continue doing the real world as you did before.
I highly recommend you go to Art School.
Just dont spend a ton of money on it, be sure of the reasons you are doing it, and research the environment in which you will be studying for the next four years because you had better like it if youre going to be there for four years.
In the post-war period the US spent a decent chunk of money via mechanisms like state sponsorship of universities and the GI-bill to ensure that university education was accessible to most Americans.
All of that spending took a downward turn somewhere in the 80s & 90s. As a consequence students must bear the vast majority of the cost of their university education starting somewhere in the 00s.
Universities began looking elsewhere for other sources of funding (since you can't actually run a university solely on the backs of students), and began reaching out for grants from the US government (NIH and NSF being two major funders). Now that gridlock in the Congress has forced the sequester on all of our federal institutions, we're seeing research dollars take a dive now too.
Private schools are part of the problem, but the real problem is that American politics has abdicated its responsibility to educate its people.
As a percentage of the total, yes, but I wrote this in another comment a few days ago:
Why Does College Cost So Much? is the most comprehensive treatment of the issue I've seen, and it argues that the main driver of college costs is Baumol's Cost Disease.
Universities like the University of Washington are also in a spending arms race: universities are increasing their per-student spending, even in the face of falling state spending: http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/06/04/public_univer...
Universities are in something of a prestige arms race, and that arms race is in part being enabled by subsidized loans that can't be discharged in bankruptcy. It's not clear that greater support from states would change this basic dynamic.
I'm most familiar with the University of California, where the state's willingness to fund it has massively decreased, not only as a percentage subsidy but in terms of actual contribution. In 1975, the state contributed $29k towards each UC student; in 1985 it was $31k; in 1995 it was $23k; in 2005 it was $20k; and today it's a mere $13k (all figures in 2012 dollars). That's a decrease of about 55% in per-student funding: http://www.kmjn.org/misc/uc_funding.txt
Overall cost of the UC system, on the other hand, has actually slightly decreased on a per-student basis, but not nearly enough to cover that 55% funding cut. Therefore, tuition has gone up to cover it.
If you want to factor out the confounding factor that a larger percentage of students go to college, you can also look at it on the macro-level and ask, what percentage of the state's resources do Californians choose to devote to funding higher education? That gives an indication of higher education as a public priority. And there it's again a drop of a little over half: in 1975 the UC system's funding equalled 0.3% of state GDP; today it equals 0.12% of state GDP. If funding were put back to 0.3% of state GDP (or even 0.25% or so), tuition could be cut almost to zero, so there is no real cost problem, just a no-longer-willing-to-fund problem.
Er, being a bit hyperbolic there aren't we?
It's a double-sided resource crunch. Funding is drying up, yes, but meanwhile costs as academic institutions are ballooning. Administrative costs have rocketed, while other changes such as increasingly generous tenure arrangements sap away resources from the cutting edge of education. It's not unusual for Tenured professors to get a sabbatical every three years, rather than the more traditions one in seven. In 2011, 20 of Harvard's 48 History professors were on sabbatical.
But in any case how much Ivy Leagues cost is hardly the main question of public interest; they could cost $80k for all I care. It's the decreasing affordability of systems like the University of California that is the major problem from a public-education standpoint, and that is mainly due to decreased funding.
Then by supply and demand, prices would have imploded since 2000. Either that or most schools went our of business. Right?
I think universities are like libraries: they are becoming obsolete in the age of the Internet. Knowledge is easy and cheap to access now.
That's a very good thing for an art school. Mediocre artists shouldn't be taking up the limit spaces.
Art is a skill arguably best learned through apprenticeship; to be honest this as a system works better for a lot of things.
Relevant report on wages:
Accordingly art majors make $35k coming out of college and top out at $57k. At that salary it is very hard to pay off $100k let alone $200k. In short, there is an upper bound for when going to school becomes a bad financial decision. Perhaps we have found it. Perhaps not, but I think that is the point of the article.
For the interested more numbers:
Art $34,400; Graphic Design $35,500; Fashion Design $36,300; Art History $36,400; Industrial Design (ID) $43,600.
Clearly these are averages and many people make more then this.
I am so very very very thankful of publications such as the following listed at Stackoverflow:
Maybe you meant something other than difficult, maybe you meant "easy" instead.
Having enough money to survive on for the rest of your life doesn't mean a life devoid of challenges, but to claim that such a life is difficult is probably a misunderstanding of what difficulty actually is for the vast majority of humans living on the planet.
For a lazy analysis also see: Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
I am now nice-dinner rich. I can buy good stuff from a local restaurant and not feel the sting.
But I am not business-class-RTW-ticket rich. I can, in theory, afford it, but I have to think about whether I think it's worth the money.
So, when you're deciding between food and rent, that is a different kind of difficulty than whether you have to decide between private and public school for your kids, and all together a different thing compared to whether you have to spend your time flying coach or business class.
As a sidebar, I think it's reprehensible that we (Americans) conflate having sufficient capital to guarantee one's basic needs with having sufficient access to capital to do interesting things (say create a startup) and also with having sufficient personal wealth to slake one's desires/whims.
I guess I notice this because I can still remember planning how to make a $20 note last until payday while not being hungry at bedtime. It mostly involved thinly-spread peanut butter on slices of bread.
If you don't have to worry about money then by all means go to art school, or do whatever you want to challenge yourself.
In the UK, overseas students pay a tuition fee + a bond to cover living expenses (which could be large in London) for a 3 year fine art degree.
If a student was interested in acquiring the craft skills and mixing in with other fine art students for three years, then the credentials of the university department matter less. A middle ranking university in UK would charge around £50K over the three years, plus guarantee of income to cover living costs (no cost to UK taxpayer). That income level is something like £13K per year depending on location, so call it £45K total. At current exchange rates that translates into $150K.
It strikes me that Italy and Greece might be very economical at present, given some application to the languages. The OA's 'style' seemed to me (as a non expert) to be fairly conservative, drawing based, heavy emphasis on craft, which I gather would match the teaching style in Italy.
I also wrote a long post on the value of formal education vs. other methods that maybe some people will find useful who are trying to find their way: http://blog.benturner.com/2013/06/08/graduation-from-formal-...
Have gone through the Army, public school, private grad schools, online self-learning, so it's been an expensive look (thank you GI Bill, to some degree) at the state of US education.
I am wondering if there is an opportunity for a local institution here to facilitate face to face networking for local artists? Perhaps mediated via a Web site?
Granted, I didn't have to pay as much for college as the average kid, they helped me out a lot. But I wasn't devoid of student loans and I didn't have endless money. It ended up that I would become a programmer after I began doing freelance web dev on the side to make extra beer money during college. Since there are few well-paying jobs in the market of singers and other jazz musicians, I started programming full-time.
I still believe that, if you can, you should take courses in college that are meaningful to you. You don't need a comp sci degree to be a programmer. The fact that you have a bachelor's (in ANYTHING) qualifies you for the job.
† though preferably one less expensive than RISD
‡ on your own time, not in a college setting
Sure, you don't get to stay in a dorm or play hockey with the Nads, but the courses are taught by RISD instructors, and at the end -- as far as RISD is concerned -- you are an alumnus (insofar as you get access to alumni resources and they hit you up for donations each year).
This is the most useful piece of advice in the article.
>An online debt repayment calculator recommended a salary exceeding $400,000 in order to pay off a RISD education within 10 years.
... If you made $400k and had $250k in debt, why wouldn't you live like you made $100k for a year and then be done with it forever?
To the self study program, you might want to add a weekly 2hr Life drawing group, supported by any of the excellent anatomy books by Beverley Hale [ Art Students League ], Bridgeman or even Loomis.
I'll add in that you can find all the Loomis books on PDF floating around the internet, and certain instructors at the Art Student's League in NY are amazing.
On the flip side, continuing ed courses at SVA are AWFUL.
Harvard's policy: http://www.fao.fas.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k51861&pag...
Median income: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_...
Firstly, it's subjective which means you can't necessarily be taught it and then be graded accordingly. Secondly, it's something which comes with only practice. Cramming it in a set time period in a degree/course utterly fails to consider the individual. Also, none of it is formal or deterministic. Art history perhaps, but that's not art.
My grandfather did terribly in art at school and was graded as an utter failure and his teacher told him he was totally hopeless. A few years later, driven by this, he made an absolute fortune selling his work and has illustrated many well known books as well. He's now dead, but in his last will and testament there was "fuck you Mr Brickett", directed at his art teacher :-)
Of course you don't need to be taught art, any more than you need to be taught engineering.
There's no reason an aspiring young engineer couldn't just discover Maxwell's equations for himself, and then continue to derive the rest of physical law. It will just take him a little bit longer, is all.
When I failed high school art (thanks to the mechanics of the International Baccalaureate, it's a long story), I was surprised and upset. But in fairness, I knew very little about the science and craft that supports art. I was an overgrown doodler.
My art teacher tried to console me by saying that many of history's greatest artists had failed out of art schools. He was unamused when I brought up a Godwinning counterexample of art school dropouts.
Art is subjective, that doesn't mean there isn't valuable knowledge to be learnt.
Canada is just north.