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Apr 18 2017
by Rachel Aslan

7 Things Being an Art Student Has Taught Me

By Rachel Aslan - Apr 18 2017

All or most of us can relate to the moment when you tell your family that you want to be or you are an art student and they do not take you seriously. They ask, "Are there even any jobs in that field?" They say, "Why are you going to waste your money in tuition?" They think we just go to school to make pretty things and learn nothing. However, I have learned that being an art student can help teach you many core values and more importantly, I have learned that it is not easy at all! Here are some of the things that I have learned that we can all relate to.

1. History is actually important.

All of us have sat in a high school social studies class and have thought to ourselves, “When are we actually going to use this?” As an artist, whether or not you know history can determine whether or not you get sued. It is important to know what was made over twenty years ago because if you make the exact same body of work for class, you could be accused of plagiarism or worse, if you graduate and have a gallery full of work almost identical to something that has been done already, you could wind up in the middle of a very expensive lawsuit.

2. You have to kiss ass before you can kick it.

While rethinking all of my life choices as most college students do, a friend told me, “Well sometimes you have to kiss ass before you can kick it.” This statement cannot be any more relevant than to an artist. You are going to have to choose many times between proving a point with your aesthetic and getting a good grade. If you want to end up with good internships and a steady job out of college, you are going to need that good grade.

3. Instagram is your best friend.

Although sometimes seen as an album of celebrity selfies, Instagram can be an amazing business tool. Within seconds, artists from all over the world can see and review your work. I once had a photographer from Switzerland reach out to me about my work and I thought it was the coolest thing. Companies and brands can see your work as well, which can lead to jobs. Many up-and-coming clothing brands look for promoters this way. If you are a photographer who has a unique Instagram, this can lead to some amazing opportunities and collaborations!

4. "Aesthetic" does not get you out of everything.

As a matter of fact, most professors hate the word aesthetic. Especially in photography, the worst thing you can do is try to hand in a thrown together body of really bad pictures and say it is your aesthetic. The response you will get is, "You don't get to have an aesthetic until you graduate." They want to see that you know all of the technicalities of composition, and then you are free to have whatever aesthetic you want once you have your diploma and a steady job.

5. Almost everyone “hates” their work.

Every art student can relate to working your butt off for an assignment, absolutely loving it and then hating on yourself when you see everybody else's work. That is because YOU ARE YOUR OWN WORST CRITIC! Maybe you're one of those critics, next to your professor who grades you and is responsible for how your life will go once you graduate.

6.As busy as you are, you have to intern.

Having good grades is great but that is not enough anymore. The art world is so competitive, potential bosses want to see that you have experience. They want to see your grades along with what else you have accomplished in school. Also, if you do really well interning for a company, quite often that will lead to a career opportunity.

7. Confidence is KEY!

When presenting your work, you have to be able to bury the, “I hate this,” attitude. If you can’t stand up for your own work, nobody else will. Although you still have to respect what your professor is saying, you have to be able to stand strong behind your work, have a strong statement of what it means and stick with it. It will also make it look a lot better knowing the artist is confident and that they didn’t just throw their work together the morning before it was due after three cups of coffee.

So there you have it. One of the most important things that I have learned that most people haven't is that you can't and will not always get what you want. At times it is great to be outspoken and prove your point but when you are starting out, there are many times you need to just smile and listen. In addition, going through brutal critiques and being torn down every once in a while makes us stronger. This gives us the extra boost of strength and confidence that not all students have. It's just all part of the experience!

Lead Image Credit: Unsplash

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Rachel Aslan - Marymount Manhattan College

Rachel Aslan (she/her/hers) is a Photography and Communication Arts major at Marymount. She loves fashion, concerts, and photography (of course). She plans to pursue fashion advertising.

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