Written by Jennifer Ku
Edited by Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
I’ve always seen art as a way to express myself and never thought it could become part of my career. To be it is more of a passion, talent or interest and apart from techniques and backgrounder, I couldn’t see it being educated. At art schools, professors and instructors usually don’t educate you to become an artist but to inform and guide you to see the opportunities and abilities that art and design can do; it is more than just painting a pretty picture.
Mediums such as watercolor, painting, design, printmaking and others can be introduced to and the techniques can be shared but what you want to put on the canvas or in the exhibition is your story. The idea of learning art is quite different than other subjects such as math and chemistry; there is no equation and no right answer. It is what you believe in, what you see and what your stories are. The final piece always has a meaning, where it could be personal, political, educational, or environmental.
Art schools are underrated by those who think art and design is about bullshitting your story, who sees art and design is for “artists” and who thinks it is the easiest subject. I don’t blame them for thinking that. Throw them into an art school and they’ll understand the competition, the conceit, the drama and the stress that art students go through. “We are not just makers but thinkers as well.” We don’t just create things blue, throw in a square or use Avenir over Helvetica for no reason. We go through a research and thinking process.
On the other hand, art schools are also overrated by those who want to be free, different, and special. If you look at the numbers of foundations (freshmen) and the numbers of second years (sophomores), you will be able to see a huge difference. Why? People who drop out have realized it is not for them. Foundation year is always a challenge and a strange stage where the school put together some generic art courses to stimulate and question your decision. You will then realize that the instructors and professors are not telling you what to do and not teaching you anything. They want to give their experiences, preach art histories and inform current events so we are aware of our thoughts and the world around us.
I see going to art school as an equipment and opportunity for me to be part of an exclusive community to grow as a designer. It isn’t a tool for anyone to get a well-paid job or be successful but it helps you to challenge your thoughts and ideas. The trick is if you depend on it too much, you will fall into the trap where you feel lost but if you ignore it too much, you might feel very uninformed and inspired by your fellow students that could influence you. I believe one should never underrate art school and one should have some kind of talent and of course, passion.