【This isn’t ART?】Studying Art at University


The picture you see me working on right now
wouldn’t be considered art by some people. By my professors to be more precise. As some of you might know I have been studying
art in germany for some years now, while I always mention that in regard of skill and
technique it never really had an impact on me, maybe in the way of how I approach and
think about art. So first let me give you an idea how I define
art. My definition for art is that everything is
art as long there is one person claiming it to be, even if it is just the creator themselves. It just varies in value. I don’t see the point in fighting over what
to call art just because I don’t understand or like it. It can be art even if, to me personally, it
has no meaning or value, so no need to argue over terms. Anyway.it began around a year ago where I
would take artwork like this to my colloquies, well knowing that they wouldn’t be the favourites
among the professor. Over the years I already had an idea of what
those people want to see in their seminars, speaking of course only for my university. And to be approved, I felt one of the conditions
was that your work can’t look pretty on a conventional level. With that in mind I submitted my work and
the feedback was pretty devastating. I thought they would at least say a word or
two about the execution, or something about my choice of colors, but they actually ignored
this stuff completely. It was mainly about how it was too tacky,
tasteless and how it would lack my personality and therefore anybody could do that. The last part really bugged me though, since
even if the motif doesn’t necessarily convey a personal story of mine. It still shows something of me: why would
I choose to draw this image, why those colors. What am I interested in? There is a lot of question you can ask that
bring you closer to an artist even if there is no direct connection to a personal anecdote. But…back to the topic. I expected the critique wouldn’t be to my
liking, though I was surprised that there was not a single word encouraging me to continue
this way. They advised me to go more abstract, leave
more to chance. At that point I knew that I needed to draw
a line between my casual work and the stuff I needed to do for university. I didn’t want to give up on the work that
I was regularly doing and so I decided to only take work done especially for the profs
liking to university, which was a more difficult process than I thought. I started internalizing the critique and worked
on a project where I would paint random people in a very free manner, like you can see on
screen right now. A limited palette would give a more abstract
feel to it and overall I didn’t really care about the accurate depiction of the people
I tried to paint. After I finished a few, I went to the colloquy
again. And again it wasn’t to their liking: The
pictures looked to forced and the color palette was still too harmonic, that they would feel
my intention was to produce something that people could consider art. Something for them. ________________ So again they gave me advice to work on more
personal stuff and that I should leave more white spaces, or how it is called “negative
space. And I did. I tried to think of something personal that
I could combine with drawing faces. Fortunately, I have a twin brother so I thought
I could do a series of self portraits that play with the fact that you might could not
directly be able to tell if it was me or my brother. Playing the twin card felt quite awkward,
but I couldn’t really identify the problem they had with the lack of personality in my
work, so I thought this could be it. After all it appeared that it was just an
empty phrase because when I showed them the project, all of the sudden they were all about
my working process. They criticized that I was using an eraser. That I wouldn’t be confident enough letting
mistakes on the paper or even declare something a mistake by using an eraser in the first
place. So the essence now was that I shouldn’t
use a pencil and just work with plain color. With that given I didn’t really care about
the motif anymore. They told me I should look up marlene dumas
work, and after watching some interviews with her I thought that I could also just go with
famous people. I listened to a lot of crystal castles and
since alice glass looks quite artsy I chose her to be the subject for the next project. I would randomly pick photos from google image
search and choose aggressive or unsuitable colors and sketch randomly anything that caught
my interest, leading to a bunch of images that were done in 2 days. Exams were getting close and I chose this
to be the project for it. And what can I say it all went in a pretty
strange direction. There was a second auditor I had never really
met before and so he asked me where I was coming from regarding my early works. Apparently you had to take some old stuff
of yours as well but apart from the fact that nobody told me I didn’t even want to show
it because I knew it wouldn’t help me. He insisted that he couldn’t score me without
seeing the progress I made, so I succumbed to his demand and showed him my deviantart
on the tablet, that of course was full of manga work, which he of course had to spring
at like a vulture. What if I told you that stuff like this isn’t
art? Yeah, that question again… Nevertheless, I must say I was surprised how
quickly it went there because I felt it was a really cliche move for an art professor. I told him that people have asked that question
about a lot of things over the past centuries and time proves that definitions and people
change. It didn’t stop there, I found myself now
in a situation comparable to a questioning, where one Auditor would ask a question and
the other one would shoot another one not even looking for an answer. So they asked me if I went to conventions,
what I would do there, would I sell my work. They asked me if I talked to people about
studying art. And I answered yes of course if people were
curious but I would also tell them I study german language as well because I will become
a teacher, and then they criticized me for that, because it would reduce my credibility
as an artist. But I think the most bizarre question was
when the professor wondered if I had any political views at all, implying that my work was too
immature for me to be an informed individual. What should take 20 minutes took almost an
hour and I went out of the room for them too deliberate. After all the exam was scored with an A-,
which considering the average of that exam, was a pretty bad grade. They told me it was due to the fact that I
got lost during my explanations. The stains on paper I did were exquisite but
it all took so long so they had to detract points…I mean seriously?? I didn’t even want to talk about that stuff,
that’s why I didn’t bring it with me in the first place. The only thing that calmed (alfons fist shaking)
me was that these grades are just on paper and don’t really have an impact on anything. But still this was an experience that taught
me a lesson and made me think about the whole topic of studying art and why it all went
in that direction. When you begin studying and you have no idea
what to draw the profs always tell you to work on something that you love, that interests
you and that you feel good about, so when you talk about it you can sell it authentically
and if needed answer questions. If manga is your topic though, or as I like
to put it anything that could be considered beautiful by a lot of people and especially
you, the opinion of the prof drastically changes and I feel that is due to various reasons. First, the profs often live in their own art
bubble, so they never really got in touch with matters like manga or pop culture work
in the first place. They often think that people are plainly copying,
not recognizing different signatures, approaches or styles. It’s like when you show me a bunch of abstract
paintings. Out of comfort I would say they all look the
same and I feel that is often what they are doing. Another reason is that they go with the flow
that is dictated by the market, while constantly denying a market in the first place, in order
to keep you neutral and authentic. So when they say “do what you feel passionate
about but don’t do manga or plain pretty pictures” it is because they think about
what sells. Professors consider art like manga or just
pretty pictures like the one you are seeing right now often to be tacky or just commercial
and therefore inauthentic and without deeper meaning. Illustrating – for them – is just a service done for the
money. It’s unlikely for it to be part of the galleries
that these professors are visiting, thus it’s not bringing money on the art market and thus
it’s not art. The ambivalence of this is that they judge
commercial art for being part of a market while they try to push you only to fit into
another market. I mean if art is as free as they claim it
to be they could just let you do your manga or pretty things. But again, this is just how I feel about it
and what I concluded out of my experience. Uni still isn’t over. I will work on my bachelor very soon and I
don’t think there will be a change over the next years, at least for the situation
where I live. So what do you think is the reason for the
limitation of art, if there is any. Maybe you have had different experiences,so
feel free to tell me in the comments. Thank you very much for watching, for subscribing
and maybe even supporting me on patreon 🙂 If you are interested in more of my art related
opinions let me know in the comments.

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