Hi Lewis, I studied Art in college and then went to graduate school for Interaction Design. Clearly I went the college route for art, but I know many people who were self-taught. Ultimately, it really comes down to your portfolio and how strong your work is. If you are generally a self-starter and are easily motivated to develop your skills, you can likely achieve similar results.
That being said, I do think school was useful in many ways. It helped me develop a strong network of creatives for feedback and advice and gave me access to a broader alumni network for mentorship, job connections and beyond. The structure also helped accelerate progress for me. I developed projects at a more consistent pace and learned the best ways through those who are more experienced (rather than experiencing, failing, and learning on my own).
In terms of a portfolio, here are a few recommendations I have:
- Unless you are trying to showcase your coding abilities, save time by using a website builder like Squarspace or Wix.
- Be crisp on the story you're trying to tell and the skills you want to showcase. Focus on your best work and make sure it shines.
- Get lots of feedback from people you trust along the way. You won't always be around to explain your work to people, so make sure people can navigate your site on their own.
- Show, don't tell. And of course, it's an art/design portfolio so make sure you're not writing too much and the images can do most of the talking.
Katy recommends the following next steps:
- The best way to get better is through practice, so find ways to make that happen! Dream up projects for yourself, take classes, etc. -- you'll make time for it if you're passionate about it. :)
- If you're interested in going the college route, look up programs that would be a good fit early. They all have specific requirements so be sure to get on top of those early, and try to connect with students that are already in those programs. They are probably your best resource to getting in and figuring out if it's the program for you.