All degrees are different but I feel creative ones are unique. There’s a divide between the people who appreciate just how much hard work goes into them, and the people who think all we do is prance about and draw a picture every now and then. It’s exhausting trying to justify your degree when you come across the latter, attempting to tell them just how many hours you’re in the studios working or in the library researching. The majority of people (unfortunately) see creative degrees as a lesser achievement than your more ‘academic’ like English or sciences and I know I’m *a little* biased, but I think we work a hell of a lot harder. It’s no secret that creative degrees are under-appreciated and under-funded even by the universities. I saw multiple advances in other course and new buildings and developments, but never for art. From day one it’s been an up-hill battle.
With subjects like biology or maths you will take a test and you will either get the question right or wrong. With art you haven’t got a clue if your lecturer is going to like your work or not, there is no right or wrong. How art can be ‘marked’ still baffles me because of the subjectivity of art; one person may like it, another may hate it and give you 30% (a fail). Trying to get into the mind of a lecturer takes up about 95% of an art student’s time because they give absolutely nothing away. They won’t tell you if you’re doing well, or “if you did this you’ll get a better grade”. With other subjects I’m sure you’re told what the right answer is, that to an art student is the ultimate dream. They of course try to set up an assessment criteria to follow and if we do those things we should get a good grade, but can you really tell from a sketchbook? Can you really tell just how much someone has thought through something or contemplated an idea from a few notes and diagrams? We (unfortunately) can’t just create a work because we want to, everything has to be justified and if one more person asks me why I like flowers I’m going to scream. This justification is what we actually get marked on, the work could be a stick on the wall but as long as you’ve got a theory behind the ‘art’, you’ll do just fine. I’m not a hater of conceptual art, I enjoy it, but it’s exhausting trying to explain what you’re doing over and over again.
A major part of an art degree is the cost. Okay I know other subjects have to buy ridiculously overpriced books, but so do we. Some people don’t realise that there is so much theory that we have to put behind our work, so much research and a reason for everything we do. Of course, with other subjects your costs will end at a few books and some stationary, with a back-pack thrown in for good measure but books are just the start of it for us, art supplies are damn expensive! I was lucky that I was given £145 to claim back for supplies each year, but that normally covered the first couple of months of the year. We have to buy all of our equipment like canvases, paints, fake flowers (I really should have stuck to paints) and then we still have tutors suggesting we take a trip to the other side of the country for an exhibition that vaguely applies to our work. “Why don’t you work?” I hear you say, well, we do. Most students have to have a part-time job no matter what the degree because not having an income, yet living away from home and having to buy food, is pretty hard.
I know I’ve moaned about how hard and un-appreciated my degree was, but I wouldn’t change it. It’s taught me so much more than art, I haven’t been learning mathematic equations that I’ll probably never use again, I’ve been learning how to promote exhibitions and marketing, how to create websites, and how to think more creatively. All degrees are hard I know, but I don’t think I’ll even not be passionate about how under-appreciated creative degrees are, because they’re wonderful.
Did you go to uni? what did you do and how did you find it? Let my know!