Hey, You Don't Need Art School! Part 1

My time at SCAD has been the most artistically productive time in my entire life.  My work has seen massive improvement in a variety of areas, I've made like-minded friends, I've had the opportunity to meet editors and industry professionals, and I attend classes led by professional artists with field experience.  I finally enjoy school, after 22 years of attending.  Unfortunately, SCAD is prohibitively expensive, and many can't justify the cost of an art school just in the service of learning how to create comics.  While no self-taught experience will emulate all aspects of attending an actual art school (and you won't walk away with a diploma), self guided education is a worthwhile endeavor.

While I was attending the University of New Orleans, I had to become a self motivated learner.  My art education classes at UNO were not nearly in depth enough to encourage improvement, and our critiques were more asspats than actual criticism.  During this time, I ferreted out many online resources to help me improve my art  enough to apply to SCAD as a grad student.

In this sporadic blog series, I hope to point out several useful resources that will attend to many of the needs of the self-taught artist.  These needs are:

Education- Education includes  art instruction as well as material use and recommendations.  Many self taught artists don't know where to buy quality materials for a reasonable price, and may spend money on subpar tools that hinder their development.  We all know it's a poor artist who blames his tools for his failure, but poor tools often yield poor results.
Inspiration- Art  is not created in a vacuum, artists need inspiration from a variety of sources.  The more an artist leaves their comfort zone in terms of inspiration, the more their work becomes their own.
Motivation- For a self taught artist, this is one of the hardests parts.  I can rely on school deadlines to set a fire beneath my rear end and get me drawing, but self taught artists may not have this luxury.  A self taught artist will need to learn how to set goals and abide by self-imposed deadlines for improvement to happen.
Communication-  This is often hard to find when you're striking out on your own.  Sure, your parents and friends will look at your work, and many will point out obvious flaws, but an artist needs insightful critique to improve, especially if rapid improvement is the goal.   Forming a community is a key step towards receiving the support vital to improvement.
Profession-   An education from a private art academy or a university specializing in art can not provide you with a profession carte blanche.  You work for this profession.  It can, however, provide opportunities and contacts that will aid the student artist in acquiring a job in their desired field.  Many of the tips taught at SCAD can be applied by any motivated artist, particularly sequential artists.

For this series, I will try to cover aspects that attend to all of these needs.  As a brief overview, here are a few of the types of resources I will be recommending:

Community college classes
Gnomon lectures
Khan Academy
Ape Dogs
Forums such as SA's Creative Convention (can provide insightful criticism in a positive environment)
Art Books
Learn how to learn by example
Expand your reading
Expand your interests
Follow other art blogs

For many of these, I intend to recommend specific instances, and as always, I intend to continue providing whatever insight and information I can on this blog.  Unfortunately, these posts will be sporadic for the time being, as convention season is upon us, and I am busy trying to make ends meet.


  1. Ohhh good info Becca. You're right, it doesn't really matter your schooling as long as you get access to information and have the perseverance to improve yourself. :D I'm interested in seeing more as this definitely applies to me. :D


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