3 answers

Self Taught or College/Uni for art

Asked Irvine, Scotland

Hi, i was curious to those who are illustrators and Graphics designers, what would be the best approach to learning how to draw, paint and design effectively. I have moderate skills in art but not enough to get me in the professional field just yet, Was curious what peoples opinions are on learning art. Also potentially how to set up a good portfolio for art schools or college courses for future reference too would be kool.

Thank you for reading. #art

3 answers

Marca’s Answer

Updated Berkeley, California

Hi Lewis, great question! I have a bit of experience with this, though I didn't end up pursuing a career in design. I did get an art studio degree in undergrad, and put together a small portfolio. A family friend set up an informational interview with an Art Director at a magazine, and she made a big deal about the portfolio. So you do need to be able to show a body of work to get into more selective schools, to get internships, and to get a job in design.

The good news now is that there are many options for building your portfolio, including online courses and design bootcamps. I think the 4 year degree is not as essential as having a professional portfolio.

If you want to get more experience beyond school and do have some mad skills already, non profit organizations are always looking for help with posters, flyers, websites, etc.

Marca recommends the following next steps:

  • Look online for design bootcamps.
  • Talk to a local non-profit and offer up your design services to build your portfolio
Hey thanks for the support and feed back !!

Katy’s Answer

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:

  1. Unless you are trying to showcase your coding abilities, save time by using a website builder like Squarspace or Wix.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Elijah’s Answer

Updated Minsk, Minsk Region, Belarus

Ultimately it's your design skills that are going to get you the job, and you can practice your design skills whenever and wherever as long as you have your equipment.

That said, this is competitive field, and having a degree can put you ahead of some people trying out for the same job.

Also, while studying in uni you get a head start on making professional connections with fellow artists who are just entering the field and those connections tend to last.