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Is Art a hobby or a job for you?

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I very much enjoyed our last art discussion so I thought I'd start another one. :)


As I have been working on getting better with my art the last few months, one thing continually pops into my head. Do I want to do this for a hobby or do I want to take it further? The subject of art school has come up a time or two between my husband and I as well. I very much enjoy sketching as a hobby and the thought of making things for other people that makes them happy makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. "Who wouldn't like to supplement their income, though?" That is what my husband started to say when bringing up the topic of art school.


I know there are many fields out there for those that are artistically inclined, though I would say that I lean more towards the illustration side of things rather than say, graphic design. Perhaps a concept or character artist, but I am not sure how abundant those type of jobs are, and I have to wonder if they wouldn't end up wanting someone younger than myself, being in my late 30's. It makes me wonder if it would make sense to rack up a student loan bill that I'd have to pay for the next decade. Especially when there is so much out there now with the internet, books, video tutorials, skillshare classes, etc. I do want to be the best that *I* can be, but at this point I am just enjoying the journey. I have no delusions of grandeur about being a millionaire artist lol (much to my hubs dismay, I'm sure :P )


So I guess after all that I am curious. How many of you Art for a living or at least hope to when you are finished school? Do you believe that someone has to go to school to become a skilled artist? How many of you are like me, where this is more of a hobby for you? How many of you have no formal schooling and are just that amazing talented and make an okay living at this? I'm excited to hear from our wonderfully diverse community :)

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As someone kinda closeish to your age who recently dropped out of art school (and knows two people who also did the same), I would say...don't go.


It's entirely possible I'm a quitter and completely disillusioned, but from what I've seen, heard, and personally experienced, at least, the art school front has been a disastrous mess since at least the early 2000's, and it's not really getting better. Funding has been cut and cut and cut everywhere, and of course the first places to take the hit are the art schools. They are mentally and technologically so far behind the curve that you will never graduate with the skills you need in order to cut it in the industry, assuming making art commercially is what you want to do. Then of course, there was the whole Art Institute scandal...


What I would recommend instead, if you want a proper art education, is to look into an atelier. You will work and work and work, but you WILL get better, astoundingly better, and you'll be put in contact with industry professionals as well. The downside is you won't get a degree out of it; I've heard both sides of whether a degree or a good portfolio/network counts for more. In most cases the consensus from working professionals I've spoken to seems to be the latter, unless you're up for a promotion at a huge company. Many artists of the illustration ilk seem to work freelance, but they're also super happy doing it. The internet is a wonderful platform for illustrators, and you'll almost always be able to find an audience. Also, you get to set your own schedule. Also also, Patreon is a wonderful thing.


The most important thing, however, is that you're doing what you love. If that is art, if that will make you happiest, then don't be daunted by the odds -- just find your own way of doing it. Even if you draw for a few hours a day every day, and follow tutorials on youtube, that alone will improve your skill tremendously within the span of a few weeks. Technically you don't need an education, although having a trained eye who can catch all your mistakes on anatomy, color, and perspective definitely helps! That's probably the only thing I miss about school, is the honest feedback.


If this is what you want to do, you can do it. Just don't be fooled into thinking that the traditional methods are the only way to get there. :love:

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I know a friend that draws on a level you'd think inhuman (People used to think he printed his works when he actually drew them) based off what he's told me, it's extremely difficult to make a living off just drawing. You'd need to meld it with other skills to get a good job with it unless you get lucky.

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Art has been a love of mine my whole life, so, for me, it makes perfect sense to make a career out of it. I'll be starting at a very well regarded animation program in the Fall, and I am BEYOND excited.


To answer your question, though, I don't think a formal education is really a necessity for being a good professional artist. (Unless you want to go into something really specific, I guess.) I WILL say that school (ESPECIALLY programs with internships) is a good way to get in touch with people, make contacts for collaborations in the future, and all.


As for art school? Avoid it like the PLAGUE. Unless you're just going for a one-year certificate or something, it's just not worth the hassle. A lot of them don't have enough funding to properly maintain their facilities or pay for good professors, so you're left paying a premium to work in a shoddy environment with bad materials and a teacher who doesn't give you the skills to actually stay afloat in the industry. (Big chain schools like Full Sail and Art Institute are the WORST in this regard.) On the other end of the spectrum, you have schools like CalArts which HAVE funding, but aren't exactly known for fostering creativity. Let's face it, CalArts is the Disney school, so if you don't have the Disney look to some degree, you're screwed.


Honestly, if you're looking for an art education, you're better off looking at a standard two or four year university. Not only do these programs tend to be better funded, but a good school will help you learn just as much (if not more) for a better price, while fostering creativity in a way that art schools, in my experience, just... don't.

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There was a time I wanted to do art as a career, but eventually I decided it wasn't for me, and that my real interests lie in writing and language. I do art as a hobby still, though, and I do still make some spare cash from commissions. As the others have said, art school may not be your best bet. A degree in any sort of art isn't actually necessary for most art fields. That being said, art classes are still helpful. You will need to hone your skills and put together a portfolio. If art classes are how you have to do that, go for it, but getting an art degree for the sake of an art degree may not pay off in the long run (assuming you're in the US where college is insanely expensive).

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Right now I draw for fun. Maybe someday I could make money off it, but I'm far from that. I would never make it my 'job' though. I've been there and done that. I used to love computers. Then I made IT my job. Now I hate computers. People will take that hobby you used to enjoy and **** all over it till you loathe looking at it every day. Never turn your hobby into your job unless you are also the boss.

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I will probably sound like a downer, so don't take it too much at heart or anything... Now with that said... I have done an art school (not in the US though, so the market and the schools might differ). Several actually, one for the first three years and then a master's degree. I can honestly say that if I found a job is also because I got lucky at one point or another. Not that i'm bad or don't deserve it, but I consider myself lucky eventually considering the amount of artists that just don't end up doing what they wanted to do in the first place...


The thing with art is that you will encounter many, many, many hurdles. 


The market is overcrowded. There, you have it. Way too many artists. Truckloads of artists and art schools sprouting like mushrooms because it's the cool thing the young want to do for their studies. Drawing and getting paid for it? Awesome! That's what ignorant people tell you when you tell them what you do for a living... Well, that's not what you do, no. It's not just drawing (depending on the art job you get), it's an exhausting process that can be draining like anything else. It has codes to follow, an industry, and rules, like any job. Each subjob in art having its own specificity (animation? video game? illustration? comics? freelance? web or digital design? etc). So, the market is overcrowded, and most artists don't have the actual necessary skills to get hired or get a job proper. Internships at best. Which of course leaves opportunities if you actually are really good at it, but even then... Still many people very good at it. It's to say how many artists on the market there is.


Pay? It pays shit. It used to pay a decent amount of money in the past, but now that everyone wants to be artist, that young students sell their art for naugh, which makes the prices drop like nothing else... And with all those artists, well, you will get paid bread crumbs. Unless you get into comm and advertisement, but that's... maybe not what you want to do... I mean, what pays the less is exactly what you will find the most draining, skill intensive: drawing, painting, etc. And finding steady jobs involving that is just... A nightmare. Most of the time, just little commissions here and there. You will basically have to live like a freelance. It's possible of course! Just have to have the right mindset for it, and the good contacts. And don't tell me that pay doesn't matter... That's just a kid's dream, unless you have someone else to pay for your living I guess. Money is important, so it has to be weighted properly.


The industry also asks for a lot of skills. Art is like music. It takes entire lives to perfect. Your skills when getting a degree are just... the basics. Even as a junior, it's not always easy. Sometimes the level to reach just looks unreachable. Well, you have to work a lot for it. Especially in traditional/digital concept art, where the concurrence is huge, and the skill requirements, drastic. And the market... tiny.


Also, depending on the country you live in, you might get exploited a lot. You don't mind doing overtime, right? 'Cause you love your job and it's just drawing nice little things right? Could do that all day I bet!' Just think about the video games crunch time scandal in the US. Not saying that's always going to be the case, but it's a possibility. 


So, if you are really willing to do that for a living, then... brace yourself, and be aware of what's ahead. Then... good luck!


So yes, I almost forgot. I feel kinda lucky because I work where I wanted to work eventually, as an artist in the video game industry. But also... I wanted to work if possible in what most want to work in, like concept art, or that kind of stuff. Well, I ended up in level build. Not too far away I suppose, it's still a job that asks for clearly art skills, it also involves 2D and 3D art stuff besides. But... i'm actually happy not to have ended in concept art. I don't have the backbone for that. The skills? I could have them. I just don't have the motivation for it anymore. I am already thinking to move up to producer and stuff like that if the opportunities arise...


So yeah. I used to love art. But now that I do 8+ hours of it everyday, I guess I don't see it the same way anymore at all. And that's what's the most vicious thing for me. I don't do art for a hobby anymore. And I know I would if I had another, unrelated job.


Hope my little experience helps...

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Me, personally, I love art. I draw, I paint and am currently trying to figure out this whole digital drawing/painting thing. (I've never been to an art school or even looked at one since Disney went digital... my dreams, they crushed them.) It's interesting and fun and allows me an escape from other things. For me it's a much needed hobby and one I've thought about doing commissions with to make a few extra bucks. That being said, I've hesitated on that because I know me. I learned early on in life that if I love something, I should not do it for a career. I burn out and my initial love and joy turns to a "have to" that doesn't appeal to me. I "have to" work for a living. I don't want to "have to" read, draw, paint or anything else I do for the enjoyment of NOT being at work.

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Drawing is just a hobby right now. When I'm writing or roleplaying my characters with others, a picture of the scene plays through my head like a movie, just like a good book, and I've always wanted to draw what I "see" but didn't believe I had the skills. I finally decided to tell that little monster sitting on my shoulder telling me such evil things to get lost, I was going to start drawing again anyway lol I'm really enjoying it, though I know I still have a long way to go to be where I'd like to be. It'll come in time :)


What many of you have mentioned about art schools doesn't surprise me. I had heard a few things as well and wasn't sure that was really a road I wanted to go down. It's so hard to trust those kinds of places. Even my husband ran into that same issue with a sub-par college when getting his IT degree, however he at least has many years of experience under his belt now...and of course we are STILL paying on his school loans. Not sure I want to add in another few hundred dollars of debt a month to that.

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Art is both for me, though foremost it's a hobby. I use it to supplement my day job, though, so in that way it's also a job. (Which reminds me, I ought to make a commission post here someday...)


I don't necessarily recommend art school. Noah Bradley wrote a good article about ways to get a college-level education without the cost, I recommend checking it out:




(I hope links are okay!)

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