Posted April 18, 2011 at 01:21 am
Heya guys! First off, I'm feeling much better after sleeping the weekend away. Thank you for all the well-wishes!
While bellyaches may have been my biggest problem this weekend, there's something else that's been bothering me that I really feel like posting about.

As many of you know, I attend the Savannah College of Art and Design here in Georgia. I'm in a major called Sequential Art, which is basically comics. A lot of people ask me what I think of the school and my time here, usually in the interest of maybe attending themselves. It's hard for me to give advice in this arena, since the experience people have here is so varied. But I feel like the conundrum I've been having lately is a good look at what it's like to attend college for something as weird as comics.

Right now I'm in a class called Visual Storytelling I (VIS1 for short). The basic idea of the class is to draw a shitton of pages in a small amount of time. Well, it's obviously more complex than that, but that's what everyone gets out of it.
It's a simple idea; comic artists need to be able to work fast, so we'll make them practice working fast! However, the problem comes in when you consider that you have up to three of these classes at a time, all which teachers who have this idea. At the same time, you're always encouraged to keep up your own projects, since that is VERY IMPORTANT TO YOUR SUCCESS as they remind you. Which is true, and is why I hate that I can't update KB more during school.

Because you know what? KB does much more good for me than any school assignment. Yes, VIS 1 is hard. I'm drawing fast. But I'm not learning to SUCCEED at drawing fast. I'm churning out shit that I'm not happy with and getting an appropriately mediocre payout. And you know what I realized? This is a more extreme example of everything I've taken since intro. SEQA assginment are often strangely specific (like that Environments assignment with the WW2 plane and the corgi that I posted and confused everyone with), and teachers will actually discourage you from including them in your portfolio since everyone's seen them. Not that I have a conundrum with that; nothing I've produced in my classes would ever be considered portfolio-worthy by me.

This whole thing highlights an essential problem with teaching something like comics in an academic setting; the lack of specialization to individual students really brings it down. Teachers have to give generic assignments and generic critiques because 90% of the students will never have enough skill to do this as a living. They have to push us to our breaking point with deadlines because most students won't do so on their own. In short, they have to treat us all like idiots who won't do anything better with our time than play videogames if they don't fill it with assignments. I don't envy them the job of trying to balance these extremes. How do you encourage kids to do their own work while making sure not to give them time to goof off? It's a really shitty paradox, and I understand that it can't be fun to try to ride that line. But I think the kids who really ARE self driven, who DO have useful things to do with their time, really suffer from this.

So what IS the point of art college? Critiques are a big part, right?
But when I turn in this six-page assignment penciling from an old script that I'm working on right now, I know exactly what the problems will be. The backgrounds are weak, the execution is mediocre, blah blah. OF COURSE IT IS! I was trying to give some of these sleepless nights to my other classes as well!
...The result is that not only does each class receive mediocre work, but KB's quality and frequency suffers as well.

So as one might wonder, is there a solution? I'm currently considering dropping this particular class, doing some of the assignments while I have time, then turning them in after I re-sign-up for it online after I move out. (It's a required class for both the on and offline majors) Gonna go talk to the teacher about this possibility Tuesday. We'll see if he tries to convince me to stick around and push through the class for the purposes of... great success. After all, it's just 7 more weeks. But the more time I spend here, the more time I feel like I'm losing before I have to go get my "day job" and drawing becomes something I do before I conk out back at home. I'm too young to feel this old, yo!

Anyway, sorry for the super personal and ranty post. I just really wanted to get these thoughts out somewhere before they drove me nuts! I promise this won't be a regular thing.

...Jesus that post was long!