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uczelnie artystyczne; artistic studies
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The reality of art students

Artistic studies – what are they about?

Everybody has heard about that student who is permanently poor, a little crazy, and looks like someone who is homeless  crossed with a visionary. Artistic studies don’t have the greatest of reputations.

Artistic studies at institutions which teach the arts  have reputations based on a whole host of stereotypes. As we all know, the most convincing lies contain a grain of truth. So what is the truth about artistic studies?

My name is Veronika and I am studying at the Royal Academy of Art ,The Hague. I am writing this piece to  drum it into the heads of the readers (and maybe my own, too) what life and work is actually like in an art college. I will look at a few truths and myths – which could be useful for anyone who is planning to take a course in this field and study abroad.

Pasta with ketchup for lunch and no savings

Students who are studying artistic courses are always broke  and have to eat macaroni and ketchup because  that is all they can afford. OK, well I have to admit straight away that I have never eaten this dish and I sincerely hope that I never will in the future. Of course, it is true that artistic studies are more expensive  – and 90 per cent of the time you have to buy your own materials for your projects. In addition, some technical specialisms, such as screen printing, are quite pricey and if you want to really master them, then you will have to invest in learning.

Nevertheless, this is not common, since all my friends are coping perfectly well, in spite of the fact that Holland’s prices are fairly high. Many of them are working as well as studying(and some have found professional jobs!)

Art students are weird and achieve nothing in life

What I can say, and I know this is 100 per cent true, is that artistic studies  open your eyes and broaden your horizons a million times over. The people, the attitudes, views, visions and events that you will run into in these places  are often unique and extraordinary.

The debate as to what kind of people want to take the artistic path through life is never-ending and I don’t want to get involved in it, but what is true is that these people all share one  characteristic, a degree of sensitivity. Artistic colleges force you to leave your comfort zone , and this helpful not only in the artistic process, but also in life.

Good institutions which teach artistic studies, normally expect you to do a great deal of work. Although I  usually finish my set work around 17.00, I  invariably stay until around 20.00  to finish off my projects and start a new one. It works this way: in class we discuss  the prototypes or work we have done “at home” (or  after hours,  in workshops at college).We also have classes during which we are taught something completely new, but afterwards you still have to put it into practice on your own.

Artistic studies affect your whole life.

Artistic studies do not offer you professional work placements

Not true, not true, not true! Many people I know, in their third or fourth year, are already working professionally. My university requires its students to do a mandatory six-month-long work placement.

The truth is that , after finishing your studies, no matter what subject you take, it is often difficult to find a professional role in your field, but when it comes to artistic studies, we have one huge advantage, since we have been lucky enough to meet many,  many people from other areas.

You are studying fashion design and find you need a photographer to take pictures of your latest collection? No problem! You are an interior designer  and need someone who will create a website for you? Nothing is simpler! These kinds of connections are priceless  and will be extremely useful, sooner or later.

Creative people are greatly in demand abroad: many corporations hire illustrators and designers , to upgrade their products  or polish their brand image. If you have a strong portfolio and are keen to work you can find a job virtually anywhere.

Of course, people have different experiences  and it’s wrong to generalise, but finding your niche  is perfectly possible and many people have done so.

Artistic studies are based on individual work

Finally, I want to emphasise, that when it comes to artistic studies, everything is down to you and you benefit as much as you put in.  You can spend all your time doing projects which count towards your degree or you could try to find a way of expressing yourself  and create something personal. In these circumstances, it’s quite possible that your school design projects subsequently   turn into clothing brands or studio designs. Spending a few years in this kind of environment, surrounded by creative, amazing people is an invaluable experience, which will change you and will open your mind to new ideas and possibilities.

As a fledgling artist  you have to be like a sponge – and  absorb everything. Only then can you become fully aware  of the kind of world and surroundings you live in. Everything which  is around you can be a source of inspiration which will change your life. Really.

Weronika S.