Having now spent over two summers at the University of the Arts, I think it wise to share what I have learnt to those would be art students seeking an art/design degree from an art university (not traditional liberal arts-based university).
My ever growing list, in no particular order:
- They will break you, it is only a matter of time. And when they do, your entire world will come crashing down. You’ll feel like your professor’s bitch and very likely cry. You’ll lose that inflated ego that got you accepted. But as the saying goes “brake you down to build you up”.
- You had better live your major outside of school because what you learn in class isn't enough to help you graduate and land jobs in some over-saturated fields like graphic design.
- Your graded projects are as subject as art itself. Designing 60+ hours a week by no means guarantees you a good grade.
- Buy a sleeping bag because you’d better get used to spending nights in studio working.
- Learn to love drinking, drugs, sex, concerts or reckless shopping because the stress will kill you if you don’t find an escape! Healthy escapes are always better, but I don’t see it happening often.
- Crits are great but full of haters, use the advice you like and ignore those you don’t. Hater’s gonna hate.
- Everyone has side projects, that is where the real rewards are. Find your own.
- Become friends with your professors, the connections they have are priceless.
- Don’t sleep with someone in your class if you have no intention of dating them.
- If you do sleep with someone in your class act mature about it.
- You’ll think many are freaks, till you confess of your own inner freak. Then you won’t judge anymore and neither will they.
- All-nighters are not worth it in the end. Get yourself at least 4-5hrs of sleep per day, then take 8-10hrs on the weekend to make up.
- Make friends. Some of them will become amazing and hopefully won’t forget you.
- Everyone’s poor with something significant in their life. Not all will look it but I promise you they are skimming on something important so don’t feel jealous.
- Each department has it’s own personality. Make sure you like it before you commit.
- Some departments do crossover however: Industrial Design = Multimedia. Graphic Design = Illustration. Dancing = Acting.
- And other departments down right hate each other for reasons no one really knows: Multimedia < Graphic Design, Industrial Design < Dancing.
- Use your vacation time to learn skills for your major. Use your weekends to relax.
- Buy your Mac, steal your software. Not the other way around. And for the love of god, get renters insurance!
- Document your processes, always.
- Buy at least 2 external hard drives. One to backup your Mac and one to backup the backup. And then use Dropbox to backup the backup of the backup... Make sense?
- Also, Time Machine. Start one the day you get your Mac.
- Feeling overwhelmed each semester is normal. If you don’t, your probably forgetting to do your work.
- Buy some decent ear/headphones and always remember to bring to class.
- The lockers are free, use two.
- Supplies for home, supplies for school. Don’t waste time carrying them.
- B12, protein shakes, D6, multi-vitamins. I guarantee one of those will become your best friend.
- You did know tuition loans can be used for “school supplies”, right?
- What got you accepted into the university won’t keep you in. You had better vastly improve and fast.
- Pay for the first 12 credits, get the next 12 free! But any more than 18 and that tall building will begin looking good for an escape...
- An “Intro” class title doesn't mean intro level.
- Question everything. Absorb only what is revenant to what you wish to become.
- Find yourself a project management system e.g. Basecamp, Blimp, Apollo etc.
- External screens make the workflow twice as fast. Invest in one.
- Learn to use a calendar.
- Tuition loans can pay for study abroad. Best paid price for air fair and credits one could find.
- 2 studios per semester max.
- Mac, clothes, shoes, desk; what do they have in common? Tools. Treat them as such. They won’t last forever so don’t stress them getting worn out.
- Energy drinks and dry-snacks; so very helpful for those long design nights.
- Buy a Moleskin and never leave home without it.
Enjoy the ride! You’ll be introduced to so many different people, cultures, backgrounds, passions, artworks, inspirations, concepts and possibilities then you can dream of. The worst thing you can do is never leave your bubble. Become something better.
I came to UArts only enjoying Web design. I later fell in love with User Interface and Usability design my next few semesters. I am now absolutely smitten over Fashion design and Choreography. Next semester I hope to love Human Factors and Industrial design. The time you spend at your art school will shape who you become for the rest of your life. Use it well.