School is in full swing now, no debate. People aren’t sleeping, stress can be smelled in the air and performances and the first big tests are all on the horizon. And just like any subject matter, art classes are in full panic mode. Today is going to be a rant that I am taking up for every art and design student out there.
Art is hard.
I hate that I have to explain this and defend why it isn’t a “fun easy time, that when push comes to shove, you can create anything and it will be taken as art.” That is nonsense. First and foremost, good art sets itself apart. When scrolling through Instagram, you can tell before looking at the username if the post was done and edited by a photographer. The quality, the lighting, the focus, everything just feels better. The art was made by a person who understands their art medium. It doesn’t take an artist to see that.
Second of all, being creative on a time crunch is arguably one of the hardest feats to accomplish. Picture whatever moment of stress has been most apparent in your life recently, and then imagine having to design a whole company’s branding at that moment. It’s due tomorrow and there is no room for sloppy copy errors. For this reason, good art takes time. So much time. I laugh at English majors that stare at the daunting task of writing a paper. Yes, it is a whole warranted task on its own, but then the English major turns to me and laughs as I pull out my sketchbook and say I have a stressful deadline for tomorrow. If you know anything about art, if I am still in the sketchbook phase and that project is due in 12 hours, that’s some bad news.
This sliding scale of time and appreciation are impossible to quantify. I can tell you that my current graphic design teacher recommends three hours of out of class work for each hour spent in class each week, and we have the class for five hours each week. That’s 15 hours of homework for one art class. 15×4…I don’t even want to write it down on paper. While this number is not constantly a set in stone time commitment, art consumes my free time all the time. Art is never done, it just simply gets turned in.
As anyone who has attempted art knows, it is very personal. It is created from an emotional place, and much like singing and performance genres, it is all based around you and what you are capable of. This makes art hard in several ways. On bad days, you have to try not to take your work personally and most of the time it doesn’t work. You have to be constantly aware of your mindset and how tired you are because it factors directly into your visual work. On top of this, art largely accepting critiques. In art classes, we pour hours of our time and usually at least one break down from frustration into a project, only to hang it up on the wall, feeling as though it is literally a small child or extension of ourselves, and receive criticism from peers and mentors. Sounds constructive, but also pretty awful, right?
It doesn’t phase me now, but art takes a development of thick skin for many. Non-majors are terrified for their first critique, of realizing the horror in having a group get together and stand in front of your art and say what could be better. That has honestly become one of my favorite parts. Art is about communication and hearing the artist talk about their piece is a small treasure to hold on to. Being creative and making the world is the best work to be exhausted from, but it’s hard, it’s time consuming, it’s under-valued by peers, it’s misunderstood and it deserves respect.