I was having a discussion the other day with some people online about the importance of a degree as an artist going into the entertainment industry. It was interesting to listen to people who weren’t artists or art directors give their reasons why they thought a degree was absolutely essential. My argument has always been this is misguided, especially in the arts.
To assume that getting a degree gives you a professional portfolio ignores the facts and anecdotal reports from professional artists themselves. Most of whom claim they learned nothing or very little in art school and that their real learning came afterward. If this is true then its time to re-evaluate a degree in the arts.
With the commercialization of higher education and changes in lending practices by the banking industry prospective artists need to carefully consider what they are getting into when they take on large amounts of debt. Hard to do when you are in your late teens to early twenties and you have no or little experience with such matters. This is where councilors and advisers really need to step up and give good advice about the current economic climate and not just tow the corporate line to put money back into the institutions coffers.
In the end, it is important to keep your focus on acquiring a professional portfolio. Careful consideration must be used to keep from saddling students with tens of thousands of dollars of debt which according to most studies, they won’t pay off until their 40’s or later. This delays starting a family, home purchases and retirement provisions all of which help provide security to an already difficult career as an artist.