Introduction to Art Schools: Challenges for the Artist

by Frederick H. Carlson
The Challenges for the Artist

All artists, whether they be self-fulfilled in the act of art-making itself and seek no monetary reward, or they be working in the professional arena full-time, will experience certain realities. Competition is a reality in all art fields as the many "creative" meet the demands of the marketplace. The work ethic becomes the dividing line both for those who seek to please themselves and for those who wish to make a living with their abilities.

There is always a surplus of talented artists who are seeking a few jobs.

Artists are expected to "be creative" on demand and it is important for them to keep their enthusiasm up by experimenting, changing, and being able to eliminate distractions.

Meeting deadlines is an important element in many artistic endeavors and commissions. Most visual artists will need to support themselves by teaching or making money in a related field and do not experience financial independence derived solely from their creative work.

When making one-of-a-kind pieces, there is always the pressure of time where the artist has to be in place in the studio situation completing their work. Multiple commissions coming in at once can be frustrating, where the worry about a lack of sales or clients is replaced by the frustration of having to do things too quickly to produce finished quality work on time. In response to this different challenge, some artists create studio situations where apprentices and employees help create the work, and the challenge of delegating and planning creeps into the process influencing all decisions regarding craft, authorship, marketing, costs, and numbers of works produced.

Even in the arena of the fine arts, selling and marketing by the artists themselves or in partnership with sales professionals is crucial, if one wishes to make a living. Artists show and sell work in gallery situations where retail and corporate clients buy originals or commission new pieces. Artists presently are experimenting with the pros and cons of mass-production and printing technology in new ways, often with computer assistance, to lower prices and make more work accessible to the average buyer.

Again, in this climate, definitions and boundaries are blurred but the uniqueness of the "personal vision" is paramount and imagination is key. Many artists work within merchandising relationships where their style or "look" on a production-line good is what they are selling!

  1. What Is Art?
  2. Professional Overview in the Arts
  3. Working as an Artist  
  4. The Challenges for the Artist
  5. What is a Portfolio?
  6. The Long View is Necessary
  7. Art Education
  8. Directions and Choices
  9. What Type of Art School Do You Want to Attend?
  10. When is the Art Major Important?
  11. Costs and Financial Aid >>
  12. Choosing an Art School
  13. Conclusion

About the Author

Frederick H. Carlson is one of the most well-known artist/illustrators in the mid-Atlantic region. No venue is too large or too small for his incisively drawn and lucidly painted pieces. He has executed everything from room-sized murals to LP covers. He drew over 150 portraits for National Review between 1990-1999.

Carlson is a 1977 Carnegie-Mellon University alumnus, and has been a freelancer for over 30 years. He has exhibited his art at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, the New York Society of Illustrators Cegep-St. Foy (Quebec), Dubendorf (Switzerland), the Manchester Craftsmens Guild, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and at Daystar/One World Gallery.

Fred was the National President of the Graphic Artists Guild from 1991-1993, the first non-NYC based artist to be so elected. He served on the Guild's Executive Committee for 8 years. He has written extensively and has been published in national publications such as The Artist's Magazine, Communication Arts, GAG News, Artists Market, and his work was featured in ART DIRECTION. He was one of the speakers addressing the Illustration Conference (ICON3) in Philadelphia in June 2003, and he served as a juror the same month at the 44th annual Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, PA.

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