Ask the Art Prof: Is Visual Arts Education Really So Popular in Western Countries?

Final Crit

“Is the art education really so popular in the Western countries – or is it some sort of optical illusion, caused by a high concentration of creative people on websites such as Deviant Art? From the perspective of my not-so-well-developed corner of the world, the whole matter looks quite ‘unreal’. “

I think art education really is very popular if you know where to look.  For example, art education doesn’t appear to be popular until you encounter a strong and lively artistic community where you can meet other artists who are striving to do the same thing.  Without that artistic community, you can feel like you’re the only person in the world who makes art.

I remember being the one and only “art kid” in my high school class.  While there were other students who enjoyed doing art and taking art classes at my high school, I was the only one who was really serious about making art a career. I felt isolated, alone, and out of place for this reason. The art teachers I had in high school were clueless and were of no help whatsoever in my pursuit of art as a career.  In fact, the head of the art department was extremely hostile towards me and she made my experience in the art department absolutely miserable. There was no internet when I was in high school, so there weren’t sites like Deviant Art where I could connect with other art students my age online.

When I went to the RISD Pre-College program the summer of my junior year in high school, all of that dramatically changed.  All of the sudden,  I was surrounded by hundreds of other students who were aspiring artists.  They were all the “art kid” at their high schools too.  After coming from a public high school where art was not even remotely appreciated, I was in complete disbelief that a place like RISD actually existed. RISD seemed like this magical place where everyone was on my wave length and understood where I was coming from.  This completely transformed my outlook and got me thinking that I wasn’t so alone after all. A whole new world opened up to me that summer, and that world has only gotten bigger since then.

Now that I work professionally as an artist, I make sure that I am always surrounding myself with other creative people.  The majority of people I know and interact with are students, professionals, and teachers, so from my point of view there seems to be no end of aspiring artists. A gigantic network of artists is out there, but you have to take the initiative to find that community.

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ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

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One thought on “Ask the Art Prof: Is Visual Arts Education Really So Popular in Western Countries?

  1. Art education seems to be more popular in the United States than in Korea which is where I am staying right now. There just isn’t enough public awareness about art and artists in Korea like there is in America. In America there are many wonderful museums with huge collection of legitimate art. It’s hard to find places like that in Korea. Art in Korea is very unimpressive.

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