Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SCAD Advice for Matriculating Undergrads

 "This September will be my first year at SCAD with a Sequential Art major... Any tips for a newbie starting off with online college?"

First off, are you starting SEQA online, or do you plan on taking all of your courses this way?  I highly recommend physically attending the school itself if possible, as you're paying a lot of money for an online class, and missing out on many of the things that make SCAD SEQA a great program.  I'm a graduate student, so I'm not sure how much my advice would apply to you, so I asked one of my undergrad friends for her take on the subject.  If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact her. We're going to tailor the majority of this advice as though you'll eventually attend SCAD in Savannah, but the course scheduling should be applicable for classes available online as well. I hope this helps!

First of all, our program's podcast, SEQALAB, has done a few podcasts about classes, scheduling, and general SEQA advice, so this is a great place to start.   Secondly, I've covered a lot of SEQA events and conventions on my blog, so you might want to check that out.  I try to be as unbiased as possible to help other students and aspiring artists.

So on to the advice:

Don't bother bringing your car.  Parking in the historic district is hard to find, and SCAD parking fills up really fast.  Biking is probably your best option.  If you're planning on living in the dorms, Oglethorpe House (O-House) is your best option, as it's centrally located and within easy walking distance of both Norris Hall (where the majority of SEQA specific classes are taught) and the best coffee joints in town. You should avoid the second floor if possible, and opt for the fourth, as the second floor can be really noisy. If you're living in the dorm, your parents are probably paying for a SCADCard, which allows you to purchase food at specific locations in the city.  The best SCAD dining would be J.O's, although that's no great honor, and there are several restaurants near Norris Hall that accept SCAD Card or give SCAD student discounts.  Two notable examples would be Juarez (the closest eating establishment to Norris) and B&D Burgers.  Many Norris students joke about how awful Juarez is, but I personally love it, and would eat it daily.

Classwise, you're going to have to begin with Foundations, and that's a mixed lot.  It's not just SEQA kids, but EVERYONE from all departments (excepting graduate students), including people attending SCAD on athletic scholarship.  RateMyProfessor can be really useful in this  area (although not particularly applicable to regular SEQA classes) in figuring out which professors to take for what classes.  According to my friend "I had a professor last quarter who scored like a 2.8 on there, but he was a really good professor! People just complained on the site because they weren't following course guidlines."  In general, you should try to get your foundation classes over with as fast as possible.

When you do take SEQA specific classes, you should take Drawing for Sequential BEFORE Intro to SEQA because Drawing for SEQA is a drawing class, and it teaches you about anatomy, but also how to economize.  This will save you a lot of time later on.  You'd think this would be common sense, but don't argue with the professors.  Don't get defensive, but ask questions when you don't understand something.  It seems so basic, but I've seen a lot of students argue with the professors, and it can make the difference between an A and a B, as well as the difference between getting to go on the Tokyo Trip or cooling your heels at home.  The more you can seperate yourself from your ego, the better your time at SCAD will be.

Something major that tends to get glossed over is the high cost of attending SCAD, living in the dorm, and just general survival.  SCAD is an art school, and it specializes.  If you aren't serious about making comics, children's books, or storyboards, you should strongly reconsider if it isnt too late.  I attended a liberal arts college for my undergrad, graduating with a BA in Hypermedia (Digital Arts) and a minor in Earth Environmental Science.  If necessary, I could go back for a Calculus class and an additional EES, and have all the credits needed for a major in EES, and become a wildlife manager.  My background at a liberal arts college has given me flexability.  SCAD promises that industry is eager for SCAD graduates, but there are A LOT of talented kids going to SCAD, and the competition, particularly in sequential art, is fierce. I am not suggesting you back out, but that you use your time and money wisely.  SCAD cannot promise you a job, and SEQA does play favorites.  You are going to have to struggle, stay up late, study, and occasionally suffer if this is your dream.  You are the only person that can make this happen.

I won't lie, if you have an anime inspired style, you are going to find it an uphill battle.  The editor's I've talked to say that American manga doesn''t sell, and that they see way too much of it.  If your style is even close to manga, you may want to consider tweaking it away.  My solution was to go more Disney, but these days, manga and Disney inspirations are a dime a dozen.  You can prepare for this by developing a strong grasp on anatomy, perspective, and practice your life drawing daily. 

I hope this helped.  If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.