Do you need art school to become a successful artist?

Charles comes from a rigid fine arts background at Beaux Arts de Paris, whereas I’m mostly self taught. Yet we both live and thrive as full-time artists. Thus how much does your academic merits really determine your artistic success? Do you need to go to an art school? In the 47th episode of the Charles and Elin podcast we talk about our experiences along with some external input from top rated answers on the web.

“I always dreamt to go to art school in Paris”

Paris embroidery art by @petronella.art

From a young age (and from having watched the Moulin Rouge movie too many times), my dream was set for Paris. I wanted to live in the French capital and draw live models. But the social expectations had other plans for me. In my case it was largely “a shame of my good grades” to apply for an art school. After I met my husband Charles, I know believe that the social constructs with regards to art education varies between countries. Thus I can only speak from the perspective of a young creative in Sweden.

Despite going down the route of studies in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at University, I still made it to Paris. The city was vibrant and I continued to create at home in my studio. In October 2016 I met Charles. A charming Parisian artist who had done everything I thought none could do. He was a living young artist, who had both went to art school and made it as a living.

To not study art might become your greatest strength

Paris hand embroidery by @petronella.art

He quickly encouraged me that my embroideries and thread paintings were fantastic and unique. That I should create and share it more on my new Instagram account at the time. Ok I thought. He might just say it to be nice…

Somehow I just kept feeling that I wasn’t a real artist. I felt as if I wasn’t good enough, which I’ve later realised is a common reality for most creatives. It was in this moment that Charles told me that to not have studied art was one of my strengths. I wasn’t shaped according to academic rules and boxes. None had told me what or how I should create. Instead, I was free to create from my own heart and imagination.

Are you disciplined?

In the episode Charles shares how he learnt more from his experience in the field than from his art studies per se. Even though he went to one of the most rigorous art schools in Europe, he felt a limitation.

“To create art for a good grade won’t make you a good artist”, he says.

art school student Charles Henry in home studio

The danger of going to an art school, where you’ll naturally be graded on your works and assignments, is that it can create a blockage. You create what you know your professor will like as opposed to what you like yourself. As a result, your portfolio will reflect a skewed reality of your artistry and more of what your mentor believes to be important.

On the other hand, if you know that you’re not disciplined enough to sit down and practise on a daily basis. To go to art school can greatly help you to build up a body of work as a foundation to grow further. Some of us need that helping hand to direct us in our creation, whereas others thrive the most on their own.

Is art school for you?

Thanks to endless resources online, you are able to be in full control of your artistic career. If you have a high drive and motivation to create, you can find your ideal instructors through online training. It will allow you to pace your learning according to your own preferences and timing, as well as enable you to dig deeper into the subject areas of greatest interest.

online embroidery art school

Both Charles and I have always benefited enormously from online learning. The value of learning from real life practitioners is endless for us. This is also the reason why we wanted to create the same opportunity for everyone who asks us how to learn embroidery. With our online courses and patterns anyone from around the world is able to take charge of their learning today.

What kind of a person are you? Do you think you’d benefit more from the guidelines and structures of an art school? Or do you need the freedom to learn, create and express yourself on your own terms?

What are your motives?

Perhaps your motive to study art is socially based? Naturally, to attend an art school will increase the likelihood that you meet likeminded (and complementary!) people. Like in most professions, it’s your social connections that will most likely help you excel in your career more than any other factor. On the other hand, it’s not only at school that you will have the opportunity to create those relationships. In Charles’ case it was more efficient to show up at related events and exhibitions. To become one with your potential audience, gives you a golden chance to connect with the right people.

If you enjoyed this article, don’t miss to listen to the full podcast episode and share it with your friends. We release new episodes every Friday related to artistry and creative entrepreneurship to help you create your artistic dream.


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