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4 Things I Wish I Knew in School

things I wish I knew in School

4 Things I Wish I Knew in School

4 Things I Wish I Knew in School

If you spent any time in art school or online art school you already know that there are some very great teachers. But while your time in art school probably taught you a lot about different styles and techniques there are certain life skills that just aren’t covered in a typical curriculum. 

As you are getting ready to launch into the world of being a professional artist there are some known things you may wish you had learned. If you find yourself in the same position then here are 4 things that you can learn now. 

It’s never too late to learn, so take this knowledge and use it in your own life as you grow artistically and individually into who you can be as a professional. These aren’t complicated lessons and can be applied no matter what your career aspirations are. 

1. Begin Your Transition Now To Become An Art Professional

When you’re still in school it can be complicated to picture your future in concrete terms. Surely you understand that you will need to pay rent or a mortgage, and jungle your work life and home life, but it can be complicated when you’re used to the student life. (And some of the fun that comes with being a full-time student especially!) 

Consider the two situations to be like two separate islands: student like and professional life and you will want to build a bridge between them. The sooner you begin building a bridge the easier it will be to transition into professional life. Why take a leap of faith that it will all work out just fine when you can prepare ahead of time? 

Picture your ideal professional life and then start to do things as though you’re already living that best life. It may seem strange as an art student, for instance, to set a specific bedtime to get plenty of rest. (All-nighters are kind of a student’s rite of passage after all!) But when your livelihood is dependent only on yourself, then training yourself early to get ample sleep can be a great idea. 

Art professionals often attend conventions or trade shows to learn more about their craft and meet with others. The camaraderie built at conventions can lead to excellent business connections and even potential job leads. Meeting other professionals before you’re even in their world can be beneficial for your future. Learn as much about your industry as you can! 

Attending an online or offline art workshop as a student can also help you learn even more skills. Having a continuous source of offline or online art learning can be beneficial as a professional so mixing up what you’re learning as a student can help you succeed and potentially get better grades as well. Any time you have the chance to learn from someone different you should grab that option! 

Be sure to connect with the people you meet on social media. Being able to interact with them going forward can help you grow your own artistic social profiles and have a following of those in your field that you trust. Bridging the gap between student life and professional life also means you need to have an artwork specific social media handle and keep your vacation photos somewhere else. 

2. Act Like You’re The Role Model 

Do you have an artistic role model? The end all be all of your heroes, the one who if you could wave a magic wand and become you would? Well, have you heard the phrase “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” before? Breaking that down basically means if you want to be like someone you should act like them and you can find success by doing just that. 

If you are able to adopt good habits and practices as a student you are far more likely to find success as a professional once you’ve broken into that world. So consider what artists you admire and take a look at how they are accomplishing their goals. 

Do they create drawing challenges for themselves to free draw every morning to boost creativity? That would be an easy way to emulate the great artists you appreciate and get more artistic practice in as well. It’s okay to start small in this area and choose just one or two habits to introduce to your routine at a time. 

There’s no reason you need to suddenly change your whole life as a student. The little things will build up over time so when you are officially finished as a student and are a full-fledged professional you will already be set with several great practices to help you. Who knows, others may start to look to you as a role model before too long. 

Learning how to react to harsh feedback or comments on social media or in-person is an essential piece of the professionalism puzzle. Lizzo said it best, the truth hurts. And criticism, especially on social media where you don’t look an artist in the eye can be vicious. But a fish can choose not to bite. Don’t engage with comments out of anger! 

How do your role models deal with negative feedback? By following their example you can easily learn what to do in similar situations. Keep in mind that art is subjective. If you are proud of your work then ignore the naysayers and thank those who appreciate your work. If you want to discuss art in a polite way with people who don’t get the artistic vision that’s up to you! 

Remember that your work and words are a reflection of you, so if you aren’t prepared to engage with others in a professional manner you may need to seek out some different role models. Following the routines of professionals who have paved the way for you can be beneficial as you transition away from student life. 

3. Graduation Isn’t Really A Big Deal

Things I wish I knew in school

Okay, sure, the pomp and circumstance can make you feel like a million bucks but when it really gets down to it, graduation is a few hours of your life and likely you’ll just be given a diploma holder at the ceremony. (The real one is typically mailed out at a later date.) So while the speaker may have some inspiring words it’s best not to put too much stock in graduation.

Just because you’ve completed your education doesn’t mean you can stop learning. Nor does it mean that you’re suddenly guaranteed a rockstar job opportunity. Sure, it’s possible you could have already accepted your dream job prior to graduation but it’s just not super likely or everyone. Most people have more modest beginnings to their professional lives and that’s okay!

Many fantastic artists have started at every level of the professional field and it’s not necessarily an indicator of their skills or where they will end up. However, when you look at the people you would most like to be, they probably have one thing in common: perseverance. Many talented artists understand that graduation is just a launching pad to a lifetime of learning and furthering their skills. You can now even take online art classes or even join an online art school. 

Every project you’re hired to work on can teach you something about the artist you would like to become if you will let it. Setting up a growth mindset can be crucial to farthing your passion and career aspirations in the artistic world. Practicing and learning outside of their day jobs can also help get them to that ultimate dream job and you can follow in their footsteps as well! 

Did you know that even people who have graduated continue to take classes? There’s no real stopping point in an arts education no matter how excited you are to make it to graduation. Sure, take a few weeks, you don’t need to dive into a new class right away, but don’t wait too long and get complacent with your skillset. Keep taking steps forward to reach your goals faster. 

One of the biggest differences between the higher level artists and those who haven’t yet accomplished what they set out to do, is that the best artists don’t let their graduation stop them from constantly learning and improving. It’s not even about talent, raw talent that hasn’t been harnessed properly can still go to waste. So always keep your efforts focused on gaining more knowledge. 

Setting a healthy pace in life, balancing learning, completing your work, and living life to the fullest can help you achieve greater satisfaction and avoid burning out or becoming disenchanted with the art world. Remember that learning should be fun! (If it isn’t, try taking a different class or doing something different so you can enjoy it!) 

4. Spend Time on the Artistic Things You Enjoy

Speaking of enjoying yourself: life is too short to skip over the fun stuff! Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon so finding a balance between “work” and “fun” is essential. Sure, there will be times when your work will actually be fun, that’s great! But when there are days when work is trudging on those are the times you need to embrace finding the fun with your art. 

When you try to spend as much time as possible on the things you enjoy you will generally be more satisfied and able to focus on work when it’s time to do so. This is one thing that students do better than professionals! When you’re in school there’s a lot more downtime for fun, seeing friends, and taking time to relax. The downside is students are often stressed about their classes and grades. 

Most professionals agree that no one really cares about your GPA after you’ve graduated, so unless you have aspirations of continuing your education it’s okay to not have perfect grades in order to spend a little more time on things you enjoy. Being able to bring that balance of fun into the world of your career. 

What matters most is your portfolio and your attitude! So keep adding to your portfolio so it is an accurate representation of your skillset and artistic style. (Especially if you begin to learn more artistic techniques post-graduation.) A great portfolio should feature you at your artistic best. You want it to show range but also to showcase your personality and style. 

That means your portfolio shouldn’t just be your favorite work, though there’s room for that too. In fact, your favorites can be a way to show off your positive attitude as they can be great conversation starters. 

When you are having fun in your work and in your life, it will show in your attitude and your willingness to challenge yourself. An upbeat and positive attitude can truly make the difference between getting more work or not, especially in the art community were your reputation can proceed you. Find the joy and fun throughout your life. 

Conclusion 

Things I wish I knew for my art career

The transition from being a fulltime student to having a career as an artist doesn’t need to be scary. Take these four tips and use this knowledge early so you can seamlessly get from one island to the next. Having fun and acting the part while you keep learning can only help you succeed in the long run!

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