In the past two years I have learned countless lessons that every art student will encounter sooner or later. Late nights trying to perfect an assignment, nerve-wracking critiques, and stringent deadlines are only a few of the obstacles we art students face in our day to day lives. So, from one art student to another, I decided to compile a short list of 5 important tips that will hopefully reach the eyes of some of the incoming freshmen planning to major in art as well as other art students or faculty who can most likely relate.
Coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee.
Caffeine in some form. This came to my mind first because, well, making or buying coffee is almost always my first action of the day. Or tea, tea is fine if it contains a good amount of caffeine. You need to be energized, motivated, and able to get a lot done in class and trust me when I say a three hour 9 a.m. is no fun when you feel like you’re slowly dying from sleeplessness. This will be important in the working world too if you are working in a fast-paced environment and need to be on top of things.
Attitude and Productivity.
You will have good and bad days, but 95% of that is determined by your attitude and productivity. If you have gotten a good night’s sleep, eaten a good breakfast, and worked hard on that day’s assignment the day before, you’ll feel a million times better than if you arrive late to class with your shoes untied and your assignment half completed. PREPARE YOURSELF IN ADVANCE. What you get done the day before almost always sets the tone for how the following day will go.
Don’t expect everyone to view your work the way you do.
You could have spent hours on what you see as a magnificent work of art worthy of a spot in the Louvre while others may completely oppose your execution of ideas, or your ideas themselves. Listen intently to others’ suggestions and don’t take them to heart. Critiques are meant to help you by means of constructive criticism (hence the word “critique”), not to rip you apart and offend your credibility as an artist. You are at college to learn from professionals so that you can one day become one. There is almost always something you can do to improve so the best thing you can do is absorb the commentary and try to see through the lenses of your peers/professors.
Deadlines are deadlines. No excuses.
If you arrive to critique with your project incomplete or you forget to save your file, that’s it. You should have multiple ways to store information and should always carry some form of storage device to class. Your flash drive will become your best friend and life line, especially for graphic designers, but don’t forget to save the files elsewhere too just in case. Not saving something and having to start all over again from scratch, especially on a weekday night at 2 a.m. = unnecessary (but avoidable) torture. Organization is so key and a skill that will carry over into the working world.
Lastly, you should have fun.
The process of gathering inspirations to start a project can be really enjoyable, especially as the gears in your brain start turning and ideas begin pouring into your sketchbook. Developing a final solution is challenging but completing and perfecting a piece you have worked hard on is so satisfying. If you aren’t having fun or feel like you need to reboot your creativity to come up with a better idea, you can start over and take an entirely different approach. After all, there is no one right answer in art.
Best of luck this semester!!!