That's a very good question to ask. There have been quite a few famous, self-taught artists throughout history. Other successful or professional artists had the opportunity to learn by apprenticing for artists who had patrons. Some had the opportunity to learn from the best art schools. In the twenty first century, there are many more opportunities to study art and perform work as an artist. A lot depends on the type of art you want to create, how you want to make a living with art, and how quickly you want to learn. If you choose to study art through college, you will be exposed to a broad range of concepts, history, mediums and techniques. You will also receive guidance and feedback. You can do this on your own by taking fairly inexpensive in person and online classes, studying art history and artist's work that you are attracted to, and joining artist groups in order to learn from others, along with possible internships. In choosing a path, keep in mind that it takes a great deal of dedication, commitment, and persistence whether you go to school or do it on your own. Best wishes for defining and following the path that is right for you!
Absolutely not, while art school will most definitely help you refine your skill true passion will make you an art nerd. Think of all the famous artist that didn't go to art school (a couple of my favorites listed below). Although I have seen friends go to art school and come out with a very refined skill, this was due to all the time art school allowed them to work on their craft. It's tough to find time and capital, to know who to turn to, or how to value your work, and art school can teach you all of it.... but if affording art school is what could potentially stop you from becoming an artist, don't let that stop you!
- Frida Kahlo