Damn You Art School: A Solution to Missing Professional Information

There are some great art schools out there. If not for my instructors and the school, I wouldn’t have made it in the design industry. There are also some really bad art schools out there, too. In fact, there are too many bad art schools out there, making false promises to students, smiling as they help arrange a $40,000 debt to the poor saps who think online learning for a visual, thinking career can be learned AND earned via the internet, as well as the for-profit schools that shove a new batch of wide-eyed hopefuls through the mill in just two years. Welcome to the biggest design-related scam of the past decade.

There are people who are self-taught, who have an innate talent, more a gift, for design and creativity, and, at the other end of the spectrum, those who have no hope at all to create something that’s not pro boon because that’s all they can get, along with the $25 logos they do for family members. Then there are those who by lack of means, have limited choices for studying the craft. They are stuck in schools that are not known for turning out successful professionals because they have limited budgets for design courses.

As I travel the United States, speaking at different schools, meeting administrators and teachers alike, I’ve realized that there are people out there that have no freaking idea what it is they are teaching. One connection of mine, who teaches several courses for a well-known online art school, emails me every now and then, asking if I can give him freelance work or advice on how to find clients.

“Don’t you teach a business course for students on how to find and deal with clients?” He never really answers that but it brings up the old saying, those who can’t do, teach. What about those who can’t teach? They get tenure at certain schools… and you pay $10,000 a semester to “learn” from them.

Just the other day, before a local design group meeting (an loose organization that has no dues or membership requirements — only that one should be a professional designer), one particular talentless individual who stalks other members for advice and portfolio reviews, only to argue every point given her and never having done a professional project, announced she wouldn’t make the meeting because she was hired as a volunteer coordinator for some small, non-creative organization, but would be teaching typography at a local college.

At the meeting, someone brought up the posting by this person and asked how the hell could she be hired to teach anything design related, much less something as important and difficult as typography. It’s something I’ve noticed — “art schools” often hire happy morons who won’t really teach students that the design field is not artPLAY. It’s artWORK!

While I apologize for the generality in these words, knowing many fine teachers who give their all to teach and mentor students and steer them into success, let these words also be the proverbial “spit in the face” to those who should never mention they teach design in front of professional designers, illustrators and photographers who see through the haze and know shite when they smell it.

Sure enough, it was only a matter of time before someone got serious about bridging the gap for serious students with bad art school degrees and talented individuals who seek to learn themselves through the resources on the internet. With the brand name, “Damn You Art School,” it seems pretty clear what they think of the state of art schools and they supply a chance for dedicated creatives to round out and sharpen their skills and needs for a successful career.

When I first ran across the site, my first thought was that they were ripping off my series of articles, written for instantshift.com, entitled, “Professional Practices They Don’t Teach You in Art School” as well as my other articles around web design blogs, bashing art schools for helping to destroy the industry and the lives of those who merely wish to enter the creative field. It turns out the site offers some impressive tools for freelancers — tools I have never heard one “design teacher” ever suggest. Looks like they hit a needed niche.

Owned by 4ormat.com, the portfolio site, Damn You Art School (DYAS) is, to quote a spokesperson:

Recognizing the lack of knowledge regarding business-enhancing resources in the creative community, Damn You Art School was born to help creative independent business owners be more successful.

You mean others are recognizing that art schools don’t prepare creatives for their chosen industry? I’m so surprised

According to Ms. Sofija Obradovic, the Marketing Manager of DYAS:

Damn You Art School (DYAS) was an initiative created by 4ormat as a way to give back to the creative community. After recognizing the lack of education photographers, designers, and artists face with respect to business enhancing resources, DYAS was made to educate creatives on services to enhance productivity and time management, improve technical skills, better manage their personal business, and encourage inspiration.

That’s a pretty… assertive name for the site. What do the people at DYAS think established art schools lack and why?

The name “Damn You Art School” is meant to be tongue and cheek. As art school graduates, we realized the struggles that creatives face when it comes to running a professional business. We received a fantastic education in our respective fields but we lacked knowledge on how to run the business side of our creative pursuits and found ourselves from time-to-time muttering “Damn You School!”. Though how much business knowledge can we really expect? Just like a medical school provides education on the ins and outs of being a doctor, an art/design school is not expected to provide a business education. That’s what business school is for and that’s why DYAS was born.

As creative professionals we’ve been lucky to learn about business enhancing tools through word of mouth, our web design/programmer friends, and keeping up with tech and creative publications. We decided what better way to give back to our fellow creatives than to put all of these wonderful tools in one place. A place they can reference, bookmark, and use as business toolkits to aid in their success.

How has the site been received since it launched? Ms. Obradovic says:

Damn You Art School has generated quite the buzz with over 11,000 views since our launch last Friday, in conjunction with 2013 World Creativity and Innovation Week.

Not bad, but what is the growth potential for DYAS?

Since DYAS was created as a free initiative to give back to the creative community, we have no particular growth prospects. We simply hope that creatives find it useful and share the knowledge with their fellow creatives, so that everyone has a chance of reaching their full potential.

What? Free? No huge debt for learning? Reaching one’s full potential? Click around the DYAS site and see some of the cool apps and tools that will help creatives at any level in the profession and kudos to them for doing it all for free!

The internet has affected many industries. Retail is losing out to ecommerce. Cable TV is fighting online services for TV shows and movies. Will art schools lose out to internet resources for creatives? Online art schools don’t offer this much and certainly not for free. What a shame if (more so, when) these online school scam shops go out of business. I hope they take some physical schools along with them into a cold and lonely grave, fading from memory and any damage they can do to dedicated art students.

About the Author

Speider Schneider

Speider Schneider is a former member of The Usual Gang of Idiots at MAD Magazine and has designed products for Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., Harley-Davidson, ESPN, Mattel, DC and Marvel Comics, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon among other notable companies. Speider is a former member of the board for the Graphic Artists Guild, co-chair of the GAG Professional Practices Committee and a former board member of the Society of Illustrators. Follow him on Twitter @speider

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