What They Don’t Teach You In Art School.

A while ago, actually quite a while ago when I was in art school, I was sitting in a critique for one of my lithography classes. I don’t know how the class got on the subject, but we switched from talking about the nuances of each others work and began talking about why we were in art school to begin with. There was quite a bit of discussion about learning how to make this or that, and about developing a critical eye. The standard art school bull shit. At one point though I had an epiphany.

I didn’t go to art school to learn how to draw or paint. I didn’t go to develop a critical eye for things.  I knew those things, or I had a pretty good idea about them. My epiphany was I went to art school to learn if I wanted to do this everyday, and to learn how to get rid of the crap I was making as I strove to hone my skills and be a better artist.

I think this is one of the most important things I learned in the four years I was there. I needed to figure out if I was going to be able to make things every single day, and I needed to learn how to edit my work. To get rid of the stuff that wasn’t so good. To learn from why it didn’t work, and improve on it.

If you are going to be in a creative field, some of the most important things you will need to learn are “Can I do this everyday and still love it”. “Can I see the things that aren’t working, and get rid of them”. “Did I learn from what didn’t work, and can I improve upon it”. Ironically this along with how to make money are things they don’t really emphasize in art school.

The videos below are from PRI. They are Ira Glass from This American Life talking about storytelling and creativity. He does a much better job of explaining what I tried to.


  1. Great post!
    I agree with Elizabeth, it does apply to about anything

    ”Things that are really good are good because people are being really, really tough” is one of the sentences that really stuck with me.

    I especially like the third clip when Ira Glass describes the discrepancy between your taste or ideal and the actual product you’re displaying. The knowledge that you are not up to your own standards, but you need to strive to improve and not lose hope and just keep on keepin’ on.

    ”Not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap” Ira Glass
    or in other words
    “Well, less is more, Lucrezia.” Robert Browning

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