FAQ For Artists

The Art Life blog has come up with a few frequently asked questions by artists and has tried to answer them. The first one is probably one of the most asked questions by those just starting out; Should I go to art school?
It’s a hard question to answer, with good and bad points for going or not going to an art school. But I would lean towards going to an art school.

It’s not essential and there are many great artists that have never stepped foot in an art school, but I personally think it’s a positive growing experience as an artist.
Some of my fondest memories of art school were discovering new artists in the amazing libraries! The artist to artist contact is also a growing experience that you wont find in your studio by yourself.

Here’s the Art World questions for artists that the Art Life asked and answered..

  • I want to become an artist. Should I go to art school?
  • I am interested in the latest philosophical theories as they are applied to the visual arts. Would going to art school be a good idea for me?
  • Will going to art school guarantee me success as an artist?
  • I have recently graduated from art school and I’m looking for representation in a commercial gallery. Which one should I choose?
  • I have been waiting for commercial gallery dealers to come knocking at my door but so far no one has come around. Am I doing something wrong?
  • I am represented by a commercial gallery and I sell my work once every eighteen months – is that all there is?
  • I’m what you’d call a mid-career artist looking for a new gallery. Is it the same deal all over again?
  • I fear that my work is mediocre. Will buying the most expensive art supplies give me the edge I’m looking for?
  • My work has never been chosen for inclusion in a museum show. Why?

They’re answered from an Australian perspective, but artists face the same challenges all over the world. See them answered here.
>> Being an Artist

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. If I were to answer the “go or not” question about art school I would probably slip in that it also forces you to push yourself (or you’ll be pushed!). Teaching yourself usually takes much longer, but the biggest argument would be the inspiration you get from hundreds of creative people under the same roof and the ability to correspond, share and be inspired by other people’s work as you paint in the studios…

    OTOH, I don’t know what art schools are like everywhere. I know there are some.. “classical” ones that basically is killing your creativity with nothing but theory. Paint a naked woman, start with a sketch.. grisaille.. finish.. and repeat.

    Art school so far has been the best experience in my life. Getting in to the fine arts uni I want to get into might take me a few years though..

  2. I didn’t go to art school, but I agree about the point of artist to artist contact. I’ve always made a big effort to stay in close contact, if not collaboration, with at least one other artist.

    On the down side for art school, most of the people who I know who went to art school switched to another profession. Of the successful artists I know, only about half went to art school.

  3. I did a couple years at an art college, where they taught how to paint and draw. Then a couple years at university where they taught you how to think about art.

    I think if I just went to one or the other, I wouldnt of liked art schools much. But having the experience of them both made it all complete, and worthwhile.


  4. I am in a first year fine art degree. The main reason I decided to go to uni was to meet the right people and other artists, learn new techniques and to have someone pushing me to produce and experiment.

    I feel that I have made the right decision, but can understand why it may not suit others.

    The uni I am going to looks at technical aspects and theory.

    I am finding that there is a lot of emphasis placed on the theory. I understand why you need art theory and it does come in handy, but is there such a thing as too much? I don’t mind the theory, but am interested on what others think.

  5. Yes there is too much theory sometimes. You need the time to actually try the techniques too. It’s better to go through halfway of one technique and let people try it, rather than just talk about it.

    How do you know you dislike or like something untikl you’ve tried? It doesn’t matter if people explain how it’s done, you can’t be sure until you’ve tried.

  6. To add to that.. My school has the perfect balance, with courses to take where you have practical 100%, an extra course where you pull the theory from the main course and put it to the test.

    The UNI I’m looking to go to is not classical art, but “free art”, says it all.

  7. Yes, Art school is great learning experience. But sometimes it creates boundary for us. We keep practising what is assigned and forgot our creativity. I would say balancing own creativity and learning from art school is nice choise.

  8. To go to art school is a difficult decision. Try to ensure your success by choosing a school or university that is on some level cohesive. Make sure you want to resign yourself to working on someone else’s ideals (loss of creativity). Art schools are more often than not an arena for over blown egos to promote self-interest while the student pays a high price for their education both with fees and loans and to the detriment of their creative process. The faculty, on the other hand concentrates on their own interests without a thought to the concerns of the student. This is often found in universities where policies go unchecked, and concentration is in the scientific area rather than humanities. I suppose the clue to going to art school is to be sure to select a reputable school concerned with promoting art, not self-promotion of faculty. Consider $90,000 in school fees and very little to show for your efforts except disappointment at having gained nothing for your money.

  9. Depends more than anything on what you school you go to. “someone else’s ideals (loss of creativity)”, a good school will give you the tools to use to build your own things.
    Yes sometimes you have to come together in a theme, but that is in the learning process as well to see different approaches to this theme by various students.

    You are given the techniques to develop, adjust and apply to your own personality and creativity. I think it’s healthy as well not to be totally into your own ego, but learn to take in someone elses ideas and explore them as well, be inspired and challenge yourself to create something within an area you perhaps normally wouldn’t use.

    It is what you make it to be, if you’ve set your mind on everything sucking, it’s going to.

  10. Yeah, a few positives I took from art school..

    Listening to the ideas and criticism of others (and not getting offended by it!).

    Stretching myself as an artist, looking at different styles, mediums, and techniques that I wouldnt usually look at.

    Not being so precious and self conscious about my art. I found it difficult to even draw in front people when I started, but now I like it. And every painting doesnt have to be a masterpiece either. If youre growing, youre also making mistakes.

    And one of my favorite things I took from art school was discovering so many great artists in the library!! Art books are expensive to buy and art schools usually have great collections of them. I always had a heavy bag full of art books, which probably wasnt good for the back :-O

  11. I can only speak from personal experience on this but for me this has worked. Look at living artists you admire and then see if they also teach. Find where they’re teaching and take classes. I think it’s very foolish to pay good money to take a class from an intructor who you know nothing about even if the school your attending is suppose to be top notch. The school is irrelevent, find talented and hardworking teachers. This is money well spent.

  12. Go to art college, the best that you can get into.
    All the previous answers are very useful and valid, but they tend to be arty and subjective. The hard truth is society is a brutal marketplace. Nobody gives a damn about your art unless you’re absolutely brilliant. It isn’t all being Michelangelo out there. Commercial art is a huge field and advertisers demand the best they can get. A diploma in art will open doors your average talent won’t open. The best art schools hold graduate exhibitions which draw the art pundits and critics to see what new talent they can find. These people don’t knock on your door, and if you knock on theirs they’ll tell you to get lost. They’re drawn to big name art colleges, and if they meet you there and enjoy chatting about your work, you’re made. Then you can sell whatever rubbish you like! Do you seriously think anyone in his right mind would buy one of Tracy Emin’s unmade beds if she didn’t have a diploma to prove that she’s an artist?

  13. Go. Art school is fun.

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