From my experience at School of Visual Arts, it really surprised me that it didn’t do anything to prepare me for the real world. And the more I mentioned that to others the more I was told that all art schools are like that. Unfortunately all art school alumni have to learn that on their own, which I think is very unfair. This subject has its pros and cons. The closest thing that art schools have for prepping their students for the real world is a career development office, but I think that is definitely not enough.
When I graduated I was unemployed for a whole year. Not because of the economy but because I wasn’t cut out to do anything except paint and what kind of company out there wants to hire a painter these days? I once tried to get a job at a café but they told me that they were only looking for people with experience. Well, what am I suppose to do-- go back to school and get a masters in coffee serving? It’s like saying the only way to get a job at McDonalds these days is to get a masters in flipping burgers.
Now I have some knowledge and skills to make it in the real world. What I think SVA could have done for me to avoid this problem like I described in the previous paragraph is to have a yearlong course called “Art and the Real World” and make it a mandatory course for students in all majors. It should cover things like improving your real world skills for life after graduation, developing professional contacts, protecting your work, marketing your work, avoiding the poor starving artist lifestyle, etc. SVA didn’t teach me any of that! I’ll come teach the class-- I know some of this stuff now. I would love to teach art students what I had to go through. There may be a lot of material to cover but if art schools don’t have the time and space to provide a course like that then maybe art schools undergraduate programs should consider making it 5 years rather than 4. I know it will be a drag to be in school a little longer than usual, but that may be the only way anyone will find success in the art world these days, just like how med school takes up to 8 years or more.
Overall, SVA definitely taught me how to be a good artist. I see a big difference in my work between now and before I went there. But it didn’t teach me how to be a successful artist.