The Visual Art students dilema

With over 200 students graduating from Visual Art schools each year in Australia alone, it raises a question or three, why so many, what do they do, and how should they go about it.

Visual Arts education in Australia takes a number of forms from senior secondary levels (Yr 11 – 12) to TAFE Certificate courses and Diplomas, to Degree and Post Graduate studies at University level.

From here the students graduate out into the “real art world” to do what? To make art, to teach art, to be a part of the arts community. Either way they are aiming to find their niche in the art world and get on nwith doing it. However there are challenges to getting on with it as we are about to find.

Seemingly many graduate with indifferent knowledge about what’s involved to be an artist, an art teacher or any number of other art related roles in the wider community. Professional practice information seems to be scattered, some get the information in depth, others get some, while others appear to get nothing. (I am basing this on my own observations and discussions with Students, Artists and Visual Art teachers.)

Anecdotal evidence points to a five year “burn out” period post study, meaning many simply give up on what was once a dream of some kind to have a career connected with the Visual Arts. Sure many people change careers and some suggest many of us will change careers 4 – 6 times in our lives. However are these arts people changing due to a shift in interest in the arts, an ambivalence to the art world, a disinterestedness created by a lack of understanding of the art world or perhaps a combination of them all.

I guess it ‘s hard to tell but to bring this to a head lets try and nut out some of the reasons people get involved in Visual Arts and take a course of study, formal or otherwise.

There’s probably more categories but for now this list shall suffice, giving us a starting point to work from. Note that each category has their own intentions regarding career outcomes. While all may start out with noble intent the outcome can become different to the initial intention they had. Some may find a change in their intended study is required as their needs alter (from formal to informal or the other way around), some may find no real career prospects at the end of the study period exist, while others may be disillusioned by the “state of the arts” on having done their study.

In an ideal world the level of research done by a student prior to engaging in a course would be greater, in more detail and provide them with greater clarity of direction. However many seem to do only anecdotal research, a brief chat with secondary teachers or career advisors. A brief chat with lecturers and staff at TAFE and university open days. It can even come down to mature age students wanting to pursue a mid life career change, or a lifestyle change, wanting to explore their inner creativity in the hope it may shed some light or meaning on their lives.

The way forward for a career in the arts should be a carefully considered one, to ensure your chances of achieving what you set out to achieve are feasibile, that what you want is doable, and provides an effective level of reward at the end of the process.

The dilema for the Visual Art student should not be one of “which way do I go”, but more of, “Here is the direction is it worth getting on with it?”


One Response to “The Visual Art students dilema”

  1. Arts and Entertainment Blog » Blog Archive » The Visual Art students dilema : ArtStuff on December 9th, 2008 12:57 am

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