Art School

Traits of Great Art School Students

What are the personality traits of those who choose to study at an art school and pursue a career in the arts? Since the essence of art is expression, artists are usually people who need to express something, whether it be an aesthetic or a way of seeing. The following are a few of the personality traits shared by those who choose to make their living as professional artists. If you posses any of these characteristics, studying at an art school may be right for you.

High Awareness of Your Environment

‘I was writing about up in Michigan and since it was a wild, cold, blowing day, it was that sort of day in the story.’ – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

This is the perfect example of how porous an artist can be. Most artists are deeply penetrated by their surroundings. They are so highly aware of their environment that they are either deeply inspired by it or want to make it more beautiful. You may notice how different colors, proportions, and the relationship between the lines and shapes of a place affect your mood or behavior. Or maybe you immediately spot dead space and know how to enliven it, whether in a restaurant, on a photo shoot, or in someone’s home. If you’re often inspired to heighten the beauty of a place, you may be very successful as an artist.

Appreciation of Aesthetic Beauty

An aesthetic is based on relationships – the harmony of lines and colors, the way a chair is placed beside a table, the curves of your computer monitor. Appreciation of aesthetic beauty also extends to the mystical proportions of the human body, the arrangement of colors in a sunset, and the way forms are arranged within an entire city. Do these mean something to you? Do you want everything you create, from drawings and photos to the way you wrap gifts, to make an aesthetic statement? If so, with enough technical skill and artistic knowledge, you can share your aesthetic with the world, whether commercially or through the fine arts.

Admission to Art School
Choosing an Art School
Art School Accreditation
Art Degrees
Tests You May Need
Preparing for Tests
Paying for College
Art Programs
Careers and Related Average Salary
Preparing for Job Searches
Finding a Job in Art


To make what has never been made before. To say something differently. To shed light on an unseen angle. It is said that everything has been thought and everything has been created. Tell that to the makers of the iPhone and the founders of Google. Tell that to Pablo Picasso. In almost any artistic career, originality keeps you in business, and in the Internet age, when new machines and software programs that change our daily lives are being created every year, originality is the word of the day. If you long to forge a new territory, living on the edge of what already exists and getting a thrill from creating what did not exist before, you have the raw material to make your way in an artistic career.


Does conforming to the ordinary get boring for you? It can be hard to be different when you live within set standards and never question them. Artists intuitively know how hard it is to express original concepts or tap into interior sources of invention when you are stuck in the mundane patterns of life that everyone else accepts. Maybe you dress differently, think differently, walk at a different pace. Don’t feel strange about it. Don’t explain. Being out of step with the norm can help you stay within your own natural artistic rhythms and allow you to offer something special to the world. Forging a career in the arts will help you rely on your natural way of doing things, your genius.

Need for Space and Freedom

Some people need to be told what to do, especially on the job. They need another person to give them tasks and assignments. Artists are more likely to need the space to listen to their own inner urgings that tell them what to do and how to do it. Are you someone who cannot be micromanaged? Do you prefer to work in your own environment or in different places where you can get fresh inspiration? If so, not only might you be an art career shoe-in, but you also should consider freelance work.

If any of the above pertains to you, if you are highly imaginative and long to hone your technical skills in the visual arts, you may very well be the perfect candidate for an art school program and a career in art.

Art School vs. ‘Do It Yourself’

Art School vs. Do It YourselfGoing to the right art school can give you the tools you need to express your vision and get professional work doing what you love. As the commercial art world begins to depend more on computer-generated art, there is more need for artists to be professionally rather than self- trained. Having an art school degree says to an employer or client that you possess the technical training necessary to get the job done.

Along with proof of technical know-how, here’s what you can gain by going to art school:

  • Time
    Art school gives you the time, tools, and resources – things that aren’t so easy to come by in the ‘real world’ – to actually make art. In art school you’ll have many opportunities to experiment with different techniques and media, along with valuable studio time. You’ll also spend a few years in a safe environment where you can develop a deep relationship with your art, not to mention with teachers/mentors and other talented students.
  • Access to Equipment and Materials
    Art schools can provide you with lighting and photography equipment, potter wheels, jigsaws, and other similar necessities. For those studying such technical commercial arts as graphic design and illustration, animation, and interior design, your art school usually provides you with the highest-technology computers and software, along with access to computer labs. On your own, this equipment could cost well into the thousands of dollars.
  • Studio Space
    The amount of studio time offered at an art school – and artists need a lot of studio time – could run you a very high hourly bill if you pay for it on your own. In your art school’s studio space, you can spend more time discovering how to use new techniques learned in class. For computer arts students, this translates as time spent in the computer lab learning the ins and outs of complex software programs and interfaces.
  • Expert Instruction
    There is no substitute for getting feedback directly from instructors who have mastered various techniques. Of course, no one can give you talent or take it away, but the technical skills you need to express your talent can be gained far faster by having interaction with seasoned instructors in an art school environment.
  • Shortened Learning Curve
    There’s no arguing that you learn faster when experts are there to guide and redirect you away from sloppy habits. Alone, you may continue using poor technical skills for years with no one to correct you. Even though you may show your artwork to friends and family members, appreciation of your talents will not get you where you want to be as fast as sound technical advice from experienced art professionals.
  • Built-in Community
    Art school allows you to immerse yourself in a community that believes in art. It can be a powerful confidence-building experience to live and study among those who are striving for the same types of skills, lifestyle, and expression that you’re after. Going to art school also enables you to learn from and discuss art with your peers, which makes you grow as a person and an artist.
  • Exposure
    Attending art school is a great way to get responses to your work. A built-in audience of teachers and students will give you helpful feedback. Also, most art schools have galleries that show student art. Some also have online galleries that have reach beyond the school’s community.
  • Networking Opportunities
    Your art instructors may have connections in the gallery scene or in the business side of the art world. They may know art dealers or art directors who are searching for fresh talent. Teachers familiar with your art can also write important job referrals. And don’t forget that the friendships you form with other students may provide excellent networking possibilities once you graduate.
  • Recruiters and Internships
    Reputable art schools are often visited by big names in the art world looking to recruit talent. Many art schools also connect students with internships and possible jobs after graduation, although the jobs are often limited to the city where the art school is located.
  • Business Skills
    Instructors at art schools can teach you how to put together your portfolio, professionally photograph your work, and start to submit your portfolio to agencies, businesses, and galleries. You will also be able to acquire interviewing skills and may gain experience presenting yourself as an artist by talking to recruiters who visit your art school.
  • Art Degrees
    An art degree shows that you completed a course of study. It doesn’t promise success in the gallery scene or even on the job, but it does prove to an employer or gallery owner that you have been taught by art professionals in a reputable environment and that you’ve worked hard for a chance to show your work.

Art Journals and MagazinesThere are many reasons to be inspired by art journals, whether you’re still in art school or have already graduated. Art journals are forums for other artists to share ideas, current issues, techniques, and information about new artists, as well as offering displays of current, modern, and ancient art. They are a place to read interviews with well-known artists and learn about the dynamics of the art business, such as selling work and getting into galleries. Art journals inform artists about contests, grants, scholarships, craft fairs, and other venues where they can sell their art; they also give you the chance to be published while you’re still in art school or after graduating.

Forum for Scholarships
Besides informative articles and visuals of new art, many journals also offer avenues that you can take to gain exposure by showing and selling your art. Art Calendar ( is one example of a publication that features call-outs to artists. It also features scholarships, residencies, juried shows, grants, jobs, and galleries reviewing portfolios.

Exploration of the Visual Arts
Visually exploring the work of other artists is a guaranteed way to get your creative juices flowing. The following are art journals that can take you beyond your own area of expertise to explore a broader range of the visual arts:

  • Aperture (, a publication founded by such photography greats as Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange, is a visual exploration of fine arts photography.
  • ART News, an influential New York – based magazine founded in 1902, contains articles about ancient to modern art, investigative art reporting, analysis, critique, and articles about artists and trends that are shaping international art.
  • Art Focus Magazine ( connects you with work from modern artists in photography, painting, drawing, and film, and offers tutorials and resources in these areas.

Peer-Reviewed Journals
In peer-reviewed journals, the content and quality is mediated not by just one or two editors but by other art professionals, who keep the standard of articles high and are continually improving to meet the constantly evolving needs of the journal’s readers. With peer-reviewed journals, the group has a larger pool of expertise and knowledge than just a few editors might have; errors are spotted more easily because, with a larger group, editing is not such a burden; and there is a large diversity of tastes and opinions regarding the content. One peer-reviewed journal is American Art (, which focuses on the fine arts while also exploring popular culture, public art, film, and arts and crafts.

Publication Opportunities
Very often, articles about art are written by those who have studied art history, buy and sell art, run museums, and appreciate art without necessarily creating it.

Though we can get the artist’s direct perspective and language through in-depth interviews, an article written by the artist, who has spent years at the center of his or her own creative process, can deeply inform the art world and new artists who need to hear from their predecessors. You may have a lot to say about art from the perspective of the artist. You may have already written articles or are collecting notes that you’d like to share later. Art journals are an excellent forum for artists to share their voices. Being published is also an excellent addition to your resume.

There are as many topics to write about as there are journals. With a little research, you can find a place for your voice.

Art journals to write for. (

Current Issues Related to Art
Reading about issues and trends in art helps you know where you stand and what issues you might face in today’s art world. It’s important to know if art education is being cut back or strengthened in schools, or if certain forms of art or artists are being banned or censored, whether inside or outside of your country. With the blending of technology and traditional arts, new genres of art are being created all the time. It’s important to keep abreast of new developments that may both inspire and educate you.

Art History

Art History Art history is a chronicle of visual arts (painting, sculpture, and architecture) that begins with the prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux and ends roughly around the 1970s with Postmodernism and Deconstructionism.

The following is a timeline of major artistic periods and discoveries studied at most art schools:

Lascaux Cave Paintings: Prehistory
Lascaux, in southwestern France, is the site of a cave discovered in 1940 with Paleolithic paintings on its walls. The nearly 2,000 images are of humans, animals, and abstract signs, painted with mineral pigments or etched into the cave walls.

The Geometric Period (8th century BCE) of Greek art began with repeated angular patterns decorating ceramic vessels used to mark graves. These soon evolved into stick figures, often of people attending a funeral. Around 700 BCE, the images evolved from geometric patterns into well-known mythic scenes.

During the Archaic Period (700 to 500 BCE) of Greek art, realism and narrative began to flourish in two major forms of art: sculpture and black-figure vase painting.

The Classical Period, or ‘Golden Age,’ of Greece (5th century BCE) focused on form, proportion, and balance in architecture and the human figure. The Parthenon of Athens was created during this time, and mathematical principles, such as Euclid’s Golden Section, a ratio that during the Renaissance Leonardo da Vinci called the ‘Divine Proportion,’ influenced art. Red-figure vase painting and bronze sculpture flourished.

Hellenistic Period began around 330 BCE, when Greek culture spread through Alexander the Great’s conquests. Rather than depict static poses, sculptures began to display movement within famous mythical scenes. Two famous sculptures show Athena gripping a rebellious Giant by the hair and Artemis’s dog biting another Giant.

In Ancient Roman Art around 200 BCE, painting, mosaic, sculpture, and architecture borrowed styles from Greek, Etruscan, and Egyptian cultures, to name a few. Art in Rome was more widely distributed and more functional than in Greek city-states. Romans were less ‘Spartan’ than Greeks, so more art decorated their walls and more jewelry decorated their bodies.

During Rome’s Christian Era (350 to 500 CE), full-sized sculpture and panel painting stopped, while wall painting, mosaic ceiling and floor work, and funerary sculpture increased. When Constantine moved to Byzantium (renamed Constantinople), Roman art began to include Eastern influences, which led to Byzantine art. In the 5th century, Rome was plundered and most artists migrated east to Constantinople. Thousands were hired by the Church of Hagia Sophia, leading to one last burst of Roman art.

Medieval Art, which lasted for over 1,000 years in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, glorified the Holy Scriptures, saints, and other biblical figures. Features of Medieval art are flat, two-dimensional figures, body parts painted out of proportion, and visual tales depicting religious or war scenes. Pieces that survive from this period are mainly sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork, and mosaics.

Baroque Art (late-16th- to early-18th-century Europe) includes ornate detail and emotionality. Dynamic mythological and religious scenes are portrayed with drama and movement. Famous Baroque artists include painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640) and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598 – 1680), who left behind stunningly realistic narrative works.

Neoclassicism (mid-18th to late-19th century) echoes the restrained elegance of the Classical period, lost during Baroque art’s lean toward emotion and ornate detail. The Death of Socrates by French painter Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825) depicts subjects posed similarly to those of classical Greece.

Romanticism reacted against the strictness and formality of Neoclassicism by capturing emotion and drama. Eugene Delacroix (1798 – 1863) painted two famously intense moments in Liberty Leading the People and The Barque of Dante, in which the author crosses the River Styx with the poet Virgil.

Impressionism (1870s to1880s) is characterized by small brush strokes that are less visible as the distance between viewer and painting grows. The painters’ focus was on light’s behavior in depicted scenes. Some famous Impressionist painters are Claude Monet (1840 – 1926), Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917), and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919).

The driving principle of Modernism (1860 to 1970) is new perspectives – fresh ways of seeing. Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec were at the essential beginnings of modern art with their use of color and perspective. Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Andre Derain provoked the term Fauvism with color-filled canvases. Matisse gave a revolutionary nod to hedonism with color experiments and depiction of primal rhythms. Pablo Picasso and Braque presented Cubism to the world.

Modernism also includes Dadaism, Surrealism, Bauhaus, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art as, later, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Gustav Klimt, and Andy Warhol brought their own new perspectives to painting.