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How do you know what to look for when you're touring art schools?

If you're anything like my mom, you're passionately devoted to helping your artist pursue their dream career. Instead of wandering through colleges and universities wondering what you're looking for, use this guide to navigate art school tours like a pro!

When you are getting to know the schools your artist is interested in, pay particular attention to what type of art the professors create and what careers their graduates pursue.

If there isn't a correlation between what your artist wants to learn and what their professors will be teaching, then the reputation of the school does not matter. An artist interested in cartooning is not going to gain anything from going to school for architecture

Think of it this way: "Picasso University" and "Michelangelo

University" are both wildly popular and have excellent reputations as art schools. Your artist loves abstract and conceptual artwork, they aspire to do freelance work and love the work of Joan Mitchell, Romare Bearden, and Willem de Kooning. At Michelangelo University they will learn realism, figure painting, and advanced drawing techniques. It doesn't sound like a good match does it? At Picasso University, they are going to find themselves immersed in Modern Art, abstract concepts, and create conceptually charged work. It begins to look pretty obvious which university you should choose.

Here are some ways to get to know the programs:

  • Google the professors: see what type of art they are making, publications, and exhibitions

  • Go to the campus museum and see the work currently displayed, look at past exhibitions from the students

  • Visit a class to see what students are working on

I know what you're thinking: this can't be the only criteria.

It's true, there are other amenities you can look for that makes the art program more desirable, but these don't need be deal breakers:

  • On campus studio space - this is especially important for painters and sculptors. Having a dedicated studio space for each student makes it easier for artists who want to create larger works or use messy mediums (and if they have 24 hour studio access that is a huge plus!)

  • On campus art museum(s) - the importance the school places on their art museum often correlates with how important their art program is to them and how much funding they receive (but not always)

  • Up to date technology - technology based art fields are ever changing and art school curriculum and facilities need to change with it

  • Study Abroad experiences - think about whether this is important to you

  • Career services and community partnerships - surprisingly, this is not offered by every art school and is something that many career artists wish they had learned in art school. The common idea is that art school can teach you how to create, but miss the mark on teaching you how to have a creative career.

Remember to factor in the basics of decision making when applying to colleges: location, campus size, and budget. If something else helped you make your decision when applying to art schools, share it in the comments below!

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