There is a notion that floats around - the origin of it being unknown - that choosing to be an art student is “the easy route,” which every art student will immediately disprove. As an art major one semester into her college career, I can already say that this stereotype is far from the truth. Some think that because art does not require “brainwork” - whatever that may mean - it is not as hard to accomplish, and therefore not able to be monetized. Well, I am here to say that one, it is indeed “hard,” and two, there are a plethora of well-paying jobs in the creative industry that value these talents and skill sets. And although both of these are important to know, I wanted to take this time to expand on these ideas, and share some things I’ve learned as an art major this past semester.
the concept of art being “hard” …
Okay, creating art may not activate the same brain muscles as math, for example, but that does not make it any easier. Even though making art and doing art assignments can be a struggle, especially when in a creative rut, something that I’ve learned is that it is also one of the most rewarding things. Some of the things that I am most proud of myself are when I visualize a concept, create it, and see it come to fruition. It is such a satisfying and empowering moment as a creator, and even though it may have been a long and hard process, the end results make it all worth it. So in terms of this past semester, it was tough in the sense of it being online and the obstacles that came with that, but looking back on everything I’ve learned and made, it is very rewarding to see how I’ve come out on the other side of it.
it takes time …
Oftentimes, when I have an idea of something I want to make or create, I start to doubt myself and think that I can’t do it because I don’t have the materials for it. And I’m sure this is true to some extent, for example, if you want to make an oil painting, but you don’t have oil paints, then that would be a problem. But what I’m trying to get at here is the mental correlation I have - and I’m sure other artists have - of the materials one has and how good their art will be. And something I have learned is that it is not the materials or resources I have that makes my art “good,” but the amount of time and thought that goes into it. Because of school being online, a lot of the resources I would normally have access to have been severed because of remote-learning. If anything, that has pushed me to be more creative with what I have, and what I am able to do with it. I’ve found that the art pieces that turned out the best, were the ones that I spent more time on, not just in the actual creation phase, but also the ideation that comes before. So don’t let a lack of materials keep you from creating something, because at the end of the day, that is not what makes an art piece “good.”
why is she putting quotes around “good” …?
Art is subjective! And I have had to come to terms with that concept. What I may think is shoddily-crafted, tacky, or unaesthetic, may be completely opposite to what someone else thinks of that same piece. Sure there are fundamentals that maintain a good/bad binary for art, but I have had to learn to not glance at something for two seconds and say “it’s bad.” A lot of the art major is not only about learning how to create, but also to critically think about other art pieces and what makes it successful and unsuccessful.
the art of critiquing …
This goes hand-in-hand with thinking critically, but learning to critique something well is something I am still trying to accomplish. A lot of prospective students are not aware - I myself was included in this - when going into the art program, the amount of class critiques on student work. Like I said earlier, it is not enough to just say something is good or bad. Being an art major, I’ve had to learn to ask myself why an art piece makes me feel a certain way, and if that is a good or bad thing. And not only learning to articulate that opinion, but also share it with tact. The point of critiques is to learn and grow, and I’ve found that if I feel hurt or am hurting someone else through a critique, then I may be missing the mark; critiques are meant to be a stepping stone to launch the project further. The skill of accepting criticism and suggestions does not only benefit in the art world, but in all aspects of life!
our identity is in the Creator …
My first semester at Biola has been so special in how I’ve experienced the integration of faith and art in my education. It is only natural that my faith and understanding of God would grow during my time at a Christian university, but as an art major, something I’ve gleaned from several classes is the security of my identity in God the Creator. Admiring His work and taking joy in all the little details and idiosyncrasies of His creation has nurtured my own artistic practice.
This past semester, and this past year in general, has given me the opportunity to confront a lot of things, and learn and grow in others. Being a part of the art department this past semester has honestly been such a joy, especially during a time that can feel so isolating and feel like so much has been lost. I’ve come to enjoy learning again, and hope to continue growing during my time at Biola.
* Side note to all the prospective students that are interested in the art major: do it! This past semester, I’ve met so many people that say they are a “blank” major, but wish they did art. Obviously this decision is circumstantial and may be more complex than choosing this or that, but as someone that was in this same situation last year, I do not regret my decision to do art at all. This department is truly a blessing and is so special <3