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Oct 24 2016


Schooling for Creative Careers

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~ 4 min read. ENJOY!

This question will fester in the minds of all professional and aspiring creatives till the end of time. DUN DUN DUNNNN! But, what’s the correct answer? A quick and annoying one. It depends on the person and career choice. In reality, the only way we can answer the question is by offering suggestions or options which correspond with your goals.

SPOILER ALERT: I’m not 100% sold on schooling… anymore. Here’s why.

Business and Marketing

If school was “forced” upon you, aka, parents force you, it’s been a life long dream (first in your family to go), next step after high school, “can’t get a job without a degree” mentality, etc, etc, I fully recommend taking up business and marketing courses instead of jumping into design classes. You’ll be much better off building your business skills, and or learning how to market a brand. Most importantly, serious… learn how to networking! NETWORK NETWORK, and KEEP NETWORKING. Pretty much stop reading this and go Network. BYE!!

Just kidding, keep reading, cause isn’t that what this is for?

Alright, back to it. So yea, we fight an uphill battle every time we rely on our talents alone, thinking it will get us far in business. Do you ever wonder where the term “Starving Artist” comes from?

A business man/woman with OK creative skills has a larger chance to succeed in their business than a creative with OK business skills. Because after-all, business… is business. 1+1=2 right?

Understand How You Learn

Guided Learning
Some learn faster when given constant guidance, a project every week, assignments, second opinions, critiques. Essentially a support system to drive their progress forward. All that “great” stuff a school environment provides.

By surrounding yourself with refined eyes, constructive critiques from peers, and professors who have been teaching for years, you’re able to gather tons of information and techniques fairly quickly. Tip and tricks that will help you bypass weeks, months, even years of solo troubleshooting. And many piles of ripped out hair.

Dependency can be a huge downfall, if you’re not careful. It’s easy to get stuck waiting on someone else’s “two-cents.” You’ll end up spend double the time questioning all your decisions or potentially delivering assets to clients you don’t fully stand behind.

So, either use the tools and tips you learn from others to enhance your creativity and skillset, or fall in the pits of the employee life waiting for your next project followed by an amazingly annoying list of dos-and-don’ts! aka. the FIERY PITS OF HELL!

Self Taught
You self taught creatives are more of the “gifted” type, or those creatives who don’t mind spending countless hours breaking, fixing, troubleshooting, re-working all your ideas. You grind through all the issue on their own, no assistance, no tutorials. Nothing. Forget about critiques! Be daring and stand over your shoulder, that’s the kill-zone. You get the idea, might not be that intense though, but it might, so tread carefully.

This self drive for creating, keeps you breaking out of your comfort zone and pushing your boundaries to new levels. But, this does take time to refine your craft. You don’t have more experienced or educated people around to help speed up your learning process.

Make sure you stay focused and are able to motivate yourself to keep leveling up and moving forward.

Self Disciplined
Being Self disciplined is for those of you whom (proper English? Sure, why not) rely on research, reading books, follow tutorials, watch YouTube videos. You basically put yourself through “schooling,” using all the tools already created by those already in the business. Google University anyone?!??

You start creating new projects in order to implement some of these new techniques you’ve learned. Run into trouble, no problem, you have resources at the tip of your finger to guide you through any problem.

Rely on these resources too much and you’ll forget to actually learn. All this information will just be fleeting facts, until the next time you need to research them. Make sure to study, learn it, live it. You’re not doing yourself any favors if you end up being a simple “copy-paste” kind of creative.

Personal Conclusions

The amount of people I know who haven’t used their degrees in their career is incredible. School isn’t and shouldn’t be a blanket idea for everyone. Make  your decision based on how your learn, how much drive, self motivation, self discipline, passion you have for your craft. It’s not a place to go just because society says we should. Many creative careers are looking for talent, not a piece of paper saying you’ve completed x amount of courses.

Start the hustle and grind early guys, it’ll be worth it down the road!

For some it can be worth every penny though. Use that time wisely, learn valuable lessons for business and refine your skills along the way. Make connections with the right people, friends can be a huge key in your future success. Remember, you’ll find some of your life long best friends in college. 

Make sure to learn from those awesome professors you have, but don’t wait for them to assign you a project, or homework. Pick their brains on ideas you have. Go teach yourself how to create outside of the classroom.

How do you think you learn? What are some other theories you have on schooling for creatives? Lets hear em below in the comments!


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    I’m the development half of Variety Studios with a passion for photography. With Randy Hadzor, we are are a web and graphics company based out of Syracuse, New York. Working with our clients and marketing agencies, we set out to create unique branding and website solutions that allows each client to broaden their presence as a company.

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