People drawing in art class

Starving Artists: How TAFE Courses Can Help

Many misconceptions exist about the art world, with the starving artist at the forefront. Art is often viewed as impractical, and the artist as tragically unappreciated. Those who do summon great fees, the Picassos of the art world, are dismissed as having a PT Barnum knack for salesmanship.

As an art student, this distorted view of art is far from reality. While creativity may be due to nature or nurture, with the possibility that some people are more creative than others, artistic success is based on learned skills. Art education is critical to surviving as an artist and TAFE courses can teach the fine art skills necessary for success in any media.

Art in the Real World

Art is often viewed as impractical. In fact, the best argument for art is that of Steve Jobs. One reason he became a billionaire was that he had a fine appreciation for art.

Steve Jobs didn’t have a knack for programming computers. It was Steve Wozniak who built the first Apple computer. What Jobs did was promote it, and since his college class in calligraphy taught him aesthetics, he promoted Apple technology as a work of art. Today's Apple products may not necessarily be built with superior engineering, but they are definitely more aesthetically pleasing.

Today, there are more opportunities to express your creativity than in any other era.

A Huffington Post article by Harry Bradford outlined why the future for artists was bright. Although the article only covered the idea from an American perspective, the same trend is probably applicable to any developed country in the world.

“It turns out, however, that the future of America's creative-types might be far less bleak than it seems at present moment, according to a report by the National Endowment for the Arts, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the next seven years, job growth in the arts will exceed job growth as a whole, the report states. In fact, according to the report, artistic careers for painters, architects and photographers are expected to increase by 11 percent by 2018, compared to the projected 10 percent total increase in the American labor force.”

This Is What Will Happen When You Go To Art School…

Here are seven things that will probably happen to you when you go to art school that will help you dispel the myth of the starving artist:

1. You will be guided to create beautiful art.

You learn the best way to create art. Reading art books and talking to other artists and experimenting are far slower than actually having someone show you the right techniques. An expert instructor is sharing years of experience with you, guiding you on the most efficient ways to work. They are literally saving you years of stumbling around in the dark trying to figure things out for yourself. A structured curriculum will give you a broad knowledge base.

2. You will meet people brushing up on their skills.

You might meet many freelance artists and commercial artists who are studying to refine their skills and catch a glimpse of their world. You may also meet potential employers who are looking for people with creative skills.

3. You will develop a peer network.

You will develop a peer group who can give you educated opinions about your work, encouraging you and sharing their perspectives on how you can improve. They will be your first professional network, and your relationships may grow over the years.

4. You will be exposed to internships and new jobs.

Your professors and fellow classmates won’t be the only one to see your work. You will get the chance to expose your work to the general public. Your art will be seen by organizations that hire artists; many professional artists and organizations first look to an art school when they need to hire a creative person.

5. You will learn about studios and equipment.

You are given a comprehensive idea of what equipment to use. You will also be given the space to work in an environment that stimulates creativity. This intimate understanding of materials will help you budget your art projects once you graduate. Rather than getting biased tips from a salesperson at an art store, you will know exactly what to buy from any art store.

6. You will get good at thinking of art as a business.

Art skills are not enough. You also need to get some basic ideas on how to run a small business, including budgeting your projects, pricing your art work, and keeping track of your finances.

7. You will get good at promoting your work.

You will learn many ways to promote your work, including showcasing them on social media and on your own websites. In other words, you can create an online portfolio to show employers that you are not only artistic, but also digitally literate.

Should You Go to Art School?

While it’s wonderful to know that art is far from impractical and that there are many modern opportunities for artists to make a good living, ultimately art is not about money. Art is about beauty and the joy of creating beauty, and if you happen to get paid to fill the world with beautiful things, then more power to you. You may even create a revolution in aesthetic sensibilities like Monet and not even know it yet!




About the author

Jamie Moses

Jamie Moses founded Artvoice in 1990

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