Benefits of an Education in the Visual Arts

by Carmina Cianciulli, Assistant Dean for Admissions at Temple University's Tyler School of Art
Benefits of an Education in the Visual Arts

Most people today underestimate the power of artists. They do not realize that absolutely everything that they see and handle was touched at one point by the hand or the mind of an artist. The sheets on your bed, the pajamas that you wear, the carpeting that you walk upon, the wallpaper that surrounds you, the furniture you sit upon, the cereal box and milk container…all of these items at one point or another in their manufacture were influenced by the creativity and vision of an artist or group of artists.

Formal training in the visual arts through a baccalaureate program allows students the opportunity to mold, shape and enhance their natural talents. Students who attend art schools and colleges benefit from instruction by professional artists, as well as through interaction with other talented and motivated students. While it is true that there have been a few creative geniuses who worked alone, most successful artists over the ages chose formal study with master artists.

Art schools provide an environment where students can discover the aspects of many different kinds of art making. Most accredited art schools begin with a foundation program, created to provide students with the fundamental basis of studio practice. Foundation programs include coursework in drawing, two-dimensional design principles and three-dimensional design principles. Many schools also use the foundation program to introduce new technologies to art students, in order to provide a basic understanding of the contemporary tools available for making art.

Although many students may have an idea of the kinds of art that interest them, art schools, through structured curricula, encourage the exploration of many kinds of materials. Few students would have access to studios for media like lithography, glass, foundry, and color photography that art schools routinely supply.

A baccalaureate program also provides the structure for study in the liberal arts. Academic coursework will augment focused studies in the visual arts with the opportunity to learn about the past and present world. Artists have always been influenced by their knowledge and understanding of the world.

In addition to instruction in art, faculty at art schools provide career development and support. They teach coursework that includes strategies for resumes, grant proposals, and portfolios, and provide contacts for employment opportunities. Most valuable to any art student is the development of creative problem solving, which is inherent in a strong professional degree in art. This creative problem solving ability is highly prized in all aspects of the job market.

In addition to the sale of one's original work, artists have the opportunity to work in many different fields. Arts alumni own their own businesses, teach, are writers and critics, administrators, curators, designers, craftspersons, and much more. Students are encouraged to seek the advice of their faculty as well as the support services of their school's Career Development Office, which can offer practical advice as well as actual job listings.

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