Art School, University or Self Taught – My Worthless 1st Class Degree

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This is a video that I’ve wanted to make for a very long time. I’ve been wanting to make it since before I was making videos. The reason being is that I believe that if you go through a bad experience, if you communicate it in a meaningful way, you can help someone else with it. There is no experience that is purely negative, there are always upsides. With this lengthy video I hope to open your eyes a bit about what to look for in a university or art school before you sign up and also about the alternative of being self-taught.

There is no possible way that I can cover absolutely every angle in a single video, so I’ll do a brief summary here of the main key points and also talk about a few things I didn’t get to mention.

Why University or Art School is not The Answer

This really depends on what question you ask in the first place. If you have no questions then any answer will do. This was my position when I started. I had to move country to attend university, I had no real way to investigate the instructors or the programme of study beforehand, I just had to gamble on it, jump in and hope for the best. Let me say right now, that this is a very bad idea. It’s the equivalent to gambling away thousands of pounds, dollars or whatever it is you spend and also simultaneously signing up for years of debt, menial jobs and forsaking vacation, leisure and a lot of other things that you may want in the future… Sound like a good idea? Much better to spend the time and money needed to go to the actual place, interview your tutors, find students you could talk to, make sure they understand what they’re doing and are not just mindlessly doing things that might seem impressive, but on closer inspection turn out to be lucky breaks or just throwing sand in others’ eyes by creating work in ways that doesn’t actually require skill and that’s very easy to discover as soon as they’re required to do some real work. Anyone could do a good piece here and there, consistency is key – how much of what they’re doing is controlled and conscious, that’s the mark of mastery.

If you’re expecting to go in with no plan, no clearly defined intention and no real idea what to do and come out a solid professional at anything – you’re simply asking for too much. This is not how the world works. Even the best tutors can only do so much, there are things required of you before you begin. If you’re unclear about these, don’t even start at all, spend some time thinking and clarifying things to yourself, in the long run this will save you money, time and potentially years of frustration, health issues caused by stress and the extended hours it takes to make corrections in your life.

Why University or Art School is The Answer

In defence of universities and art schools now – if you find yourself an awesome place, with tutors who have relevant experience, even if they’re not working in the industry at the moment, but they have the practical knowledge to do so, or have done so in the past, know what is required of a person to be a good professional and communicate these things to you, encourage you and make you see potential in yourself… and you will do the work required – then by all means, take out all the loans you’ll need, sign whatever you have to and all the things that might be cited against art schools – like costing too much or getting you in debt – these things will be paid for once you’re done. The whole idea behind university or art school is to invest, upfront, in a skill that will later allow you to earn much more, it’s supposed to multiply your earning ability. Say that you can earn 10K a year before your degree, art school will get you 100K in debt, but once you’re done, within a year you’ll be earning 70K. That means that in 1 year, you’ll be making the equivalent of 7 years. In a few years you’ll be done paying off your degree, your salary will be going up – yay for everything.

It makes sense to do that, if that’s what you’ll get out of it. Education should be paid for… good education that is. It supports the people that have earned the knowledge, it allows them the time to research and learn more and bring more to the table so students can keep getting increased value out of their teachers. It can’t all be free, that’s not the point I’m making and it can’t all be amazing and ground-breaking, that’s not it either. There will always be times when things are boring and you just need to get them done, but you need to be absolutely certain that what you’re doing is something that is of recognizable value to other people in society once you’ve graduated. If your teachers can demonstrate value, have a track record of producing professional practitioners, know their craft and can teach it – you are in good hands. Art School or university is the answer then.

Why an Art Degree is Often Useless

No one pays to see your art degree… ever. Not once in history. Maybe your grandmother might pay you a dollar if you teased her for a few months, but that’s it. No employer will hire you simply because you have a piece of paper. That proves nothing. Your work, your portfolio, your art, your work ethic, those are things valued by other employers. The fact that you wrote an incredible essay about the usage of the color blue in your abstract, modern depiction of a rectangle is of no interest to anyone producing professional, commercial artwork. If at some point, after years of earning the respect of others, your opinion gains social proof and people begin to listen to you – maybe it might turn out you were right all along, you were sitting on something special all this time… But the process of proving that to the world, to gain the right to have an opinion is a pretty tough challenge. It might take years to do that. What instantly communicates value though is the quality of your work and your character. Those are your 2 main assets. Proficiency at your craft and producing results, those are prerequisites to being able to have opinions about things, those are your real degrees. I say this because I graduated from university with nothing but an opinion and the vague notion that somehow this whole experience was for nothing and it wasn’t really useful. Let me also say this – you might have amazing work and no degree – you will still get work, no intelligent employer will pass on you if you have proven skills to take someone on who has no idea what they’re doing, but have paid thousands to acquire a magic piece of paper. The only employer that would do that is someone who doesn’t understand how the world works and in that case – you shouldn’t want to work for them in the first place.

Being a Self-Taught Artist

Being self-taught is also not a magic answer. In the absence of a good teacher or mentor though it’s the only viable option. Compared to a bad teacher or mentor – it’s invaluable. I’ve yet to find a real-life mentor or a teacher, I live in a small town in the UK now, there are few people around interested in the same things I am… but that means nothing. Being self-taught puts the world at your fingertips. It means you no longer expect a result to come from something just because you’ve paid for it and should be entitled to it. Being self-taught means you have the privilege of learning from the best professionals in the world, the down-side is that their message is not customized to you, at all. You might and will acquire bad habits, you’ll waste weeks, months or even years going down blind alleys and stumbling around. You’ll have to face the possibility that you might not find the right way to get where you want to go. You will watch great content and completely misinterpret it and learn the wrong lessons from it, over and over again.

The upsides? The ability to fire your teacher, to turn off any dvd, tutorial or close any book that doesn’t suit your needs or is simply useless. Your path is custom made, it all depends on you. Spend as much or as little time you want practicing, but you also have to face the consequences of that and know that you are 100% responsible for every single good or bad effect you produce. There’s no one to blame, no parent or teacher to point the finger at and say ” You should have taught me this!”. Self-taught also does not mean to reinvent the wheel, you’re not discovering everything you’re learning, you’re just navigating the learning experience your own way. It might produce great insight, it might also backfire on you, those are risks much closer to anything you’ll get to face in life. It puts you in a real-life situation with results being the only thing that matters, not the artificial “Do as I say, because I say it” mentality of the classroom. Self-taught also does not mean you have no teachers, everyone is your teacher and you should seek out as many people as you possibly can to learn from… but this really needs its own blog post.

I can go on forever, but I’d like to hear your experience and your opinions now. Have you been to art school or university? What was your time there like? What situation are you in now, did it help or hinder you? Are you self-taught and if so – how do you find it compared to any school you have been to? What are your biggest problems in navigating your learning by yourself?

As always – thank you so much for reading and watching and for your incredible feedback.


  1. Matteo Sala says:

    This is only your personal point of view, and thank you for that. But I can say that exist wonderful artists, coming from my Art University that are immediately hired after their degree. As well in my University exist students that completely sucks. I think that it depends by how much you want to become a good artist and get a job. If you are really determined to study and learn as much as you can from your teachers, you will learn faster. And obviously there are good University and bad University. The perfect solution for me is to be 50% a good student and 50% a good self taught artist.

    • Volen says:

      Agreed 🙂 My intent was just to have people look into and research what they get themselves into. Thanks for the comment.

  2. MatthewDawn says:

    Nice article! I would’ve found it more helpful if I hadn’t already been through that struggle myself. Never the less, I appreciate the effort you’ve put into educating the next generation. 🙂

  3. Eugie Valdes says:

    Hey man I really enjoyed what you had to say..I went to Digipen in Redmond and I had a similar experience of just getting a lot more done being self taught. I’m learning art on my own now. Trying to get into the game industry in Bellevue WA. Thank you for spreading true experience and knowledge online. Fighting everyday to learn more.

  4. TI Irwin says:

    I’d only go to Gnomon or FZD. Any other art school I’d take select classes rather than enroll in a degree program.

    • Volen says:

      Sounds like a great plan, I own a lot of Gnomon dvds and keep watching the FZD channel over and over… it’s the next best thing 🙂

  5. 9ineart says:

    hmmm interesting read i am planning on relocating to study art and animation and work after… this gives me insight . thank you. I really need some advice.

    • Volen says:

      Thank you, I’d say research the school, talk to the students, see the work they produce and ask them things that a trained professional should know… Try to distinguish as best you can between work that’s just luck or “a cheat” as in using photos to cover up gaps in skill and try to find out if there is consistent quality being produced. Those are all pretty ambiguous qualities and probably hard to assess, but if enough students feel that they’re getting value and you know what a good, professional target skill level should be and they are getting closer to it – then you’ve got a good bet. Good luck 🙂

  6. Nice article Volen. I would say that my experience with my first round of school was pretty average. Back when I went to SCAD (02-06) I had a combination of both liberal arts courses (math, science, English, writing), and career path courses– If I could go back and change anything in the program, I would surely trim out all the pointless fat that didn’t keep me focused on my path to 3D game art. The rest of that is definitely a waste of time. Art History classes, however, are very important, but now that I know what I know now– I felt that they were taught incorrectly. They usually involved a lot of babble about this artist or that and why they were important to art culture, memorizing dates and names of paintings– granted this will introduce you to the Old Masters and help you to discover art you’ve never seen before– but they never talked about practical application of studying the old master’s pieces and process, or the lineages of artists who studied under each other– If more schools knew to do that, I would say they could be worth going to, but not $150k worth (or more now). My career courses were pretty average at best too. The program, granted, was only a few years old, like 5 yrs, and we only had a handful– like 1 or 2 teachers that I knew who had experience in the the entertainment field— not even game specific, just film/animation, and sequential art (out of the whole dang entertainment art faculty) We had teachers who would toss us PDF tutorials for Zbrush rather than taking the time to teach us themselves– This, you might say is what one could call self-teaching, and if you put your time in, yeah, you’d learn– but if you’re going to pay 25k for a semester for school– the teachers had better know their shit– and this particular teacher didn’t– so I’m a bit burnt from that, if you can’t tell– so after all the work and time put in– I basically had no portfolio– only a handful of crappy work that would never get me a job– only a basic understanding of 3DS Max, Zbrush, Photoshop. And don’t get me wrong– I bust my ass trying to get a basic understanding of what I wanted to do– yeah in college you party a little– but I tell you the truth there were many a times I would not hang out with friends or go out, so that I could do my work w/o getting distracted– I really wanted to get a job and be one of the top students– but I didn’t know what questions to ask, what information to look up, or who to turn to for help to get better– self-teaching can be a blessing and a curse, because sometimes you need a guiding hand, and SCAD just didn’t deliver, and it was expensive. There are only a handful of students I graduated with that I know are still working in the games industry today. It took me a year and a half before I got my first job– and I got really lucky, and I am truly thankful for the studio that took me in and saw my potential.

    After layoffs had occurred in 2009, I didn’t know what to do. Thankfully my parents took me in for a while, I tried teaching what I knew about game design and dev to students at a Community College for one short semester, but decided that was not for me because I wasn’t confident in my experience and skill level to be taking that any further. I worked on my portfolio the best I could, teaching myself Unreal Engine, and making environment art models and textures– however, I still had a lot lacking. Then, in 2010, I was fortunate enough to discover a brand new online school called The Art Department. My parents were gracious enough to allow me to go through with it. They could have said no. So I landed in Austin, TX, where I am now– and I’ll tell you, that it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. TAD gave me everything– A place to work, peers to grow with, and the guiding hand I mentioned earlier. They gave me a strong foundation in drawing and painting, and picture making. I had a kick ass 3D teacher who helped sharpen my modeling and texture skills for current gen games. We had life drawing sessions constantly in the studio. We had events to help promote the school. They taught us how to see– by that I mean, light, form, color, shape, value, contrast and how to read the movement of a composition. We had teachers who were working artists themselves, and who were also connected to artists within the industries of entertainment, painting and illustration. They showed us how to promote ourselves and get noticed in this sea of internet art culture we live in now. This school was definitely worth the cost and time, blood, sweat and tears.

    After I graduated in 2012, I struggled for a while between freelance 3D art and a part time job. Thankfully, though, I was connected with talented artist professionals, peers within Austin, and out of state– places to meet up with them, and I was working at my craft everyday, even after my long day at my part time job. After a year and a half I’m very thankful to be working full-time as a character artist for OMNOM Workshop now. To get where I wanted to go, was definitely a long path, but if you work for it, you’ll get there whether you have certified education or not. You don’t need a degree in this industry, I will say that. Game studios want you for your ability and creativity, not your grades. If they do, I say they’re not worth the application. The biggest issue is putting the time in– some folks are quicker than others to get there, but it’s a matter of circumstance, drive, and discipline. It’s important to build up a network of friends online and in person– you never know who you will meet.

    For the argument on school vs self-teaching– in the internet culture of today, you can find all kinds of free or cheap tutorials– I will say that you will never be 100% alone in your self-teaching. You’re pulling your idea from somewhere, things in the world that you like, someone you’ve met or a picture you use for reference. I will say that working alone and using those tools to paint the pictures you want to create will help create your voice– and only you can know what your voice is, but with school, there’s a sense of community and connection– granted there are the internet forums for feedback, but getting together with folks and working with them directly is a lot less lonely, and you’ll get direct feedback and ideas you may could have never thought of on your own– more heads are always better than one, I say. Big art institutes and universities will probably be a thing of the past in the next few years– with online education booming– as long as young artists figure out that they don’t need to go through with the big expensive places to get work– and that they can convince their parents that they don’t need a degree–

    If someone were to ask me, I would say, don’t go to an expensive university– use cheap or free online resources. Draw, paint, model, texture (whatever floats your boat) every day, for as many hours in a day you can take. Build work (if it takes multiple portfolios, so be it) towards studios you want to work for. When you think you’re ready, apply. Have a cheap website with your name in the web address, or free blog, and an Artist page on social media sites. Don’t quit.

    I wish I knew all this about 10 years ago now, but the path to get there, I will say, has been worth it.

    • Volen says:

      Hey Miles,

      Thank you so much for the comment man, you’ve taken an incredible amount of effort and caring to put all this info out, thank you so much for sharing your story.
      I’ve looked at TAD as well, I think Ron Lemen used to teach there & Marshall Vandruff if I’m not mistaken… awesome artists, great instructors, there’a absolutely no way that that school wouldn’t deliver value.
      It’s in part a fault in the system… people are desperate to get a job, they have all kinds of pressures, they find a straw and cling to it, most teachers in smaller schools and universities, I think, find their job not as a passion, but as something to keep them safe and bored. This could be generalised to most people in the world. So no special case to be made for teachers, they have the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives, but really so does everyone, so there’s no blaming them. I don’t want to blame anyone or point any fingers, some of my teachers were really great people, with really great information. But it’s the same scenario as what you said at the beginning of your comment… I’d love to sit there and take in all the abstract, theoretical and useless to the industry information, but that really prepares you to work in a retail store once you’re done studying. First get the practical, useful knowledge you need to be able to make a living for yourself and not have to sell your time for minimum wage, incredible stress and no prospect at success once you’re done with school unless you begin to untangle the net of what you don’t know, what you should know, what you’ve been taught wrong, how to unlearn it, how to find mentors and good sources of information, etc. etc. etc… It’s a bad place to be put in by the people who’re supposed to be pointing fingers at what is useful… After all that’s pretty much what education is, it’s not the accumulation of useless information, it’s a discrimination between useless and useful and proper learning of the latter…
      Thanks again Miles, I wish you all the best man, I’m very glad you made it through in the end and you’ve cultivated a great mindset. Great to have read your comment, thank you.

  7. zanreborn says:

    i do agree in your opinion. i always try to improve my skills with tutorials of fx imagine vids and gnomon workshops but i woudl love to visit an course no matter if online or real meeting course. unfortunately in germany its not easy to catch a good one….

    • Volen says:

      Online is the next best thing then, thankfully there’s so many alternatives now you could get a great education no matter where you live. Best of luck!

  8. arcticeagle says:

    Thank you for this.

    I have a very recent experience related to this. Though I am not a digital/visual artist, I think there are similarities in certain areas of the skills and knowledge relevance to actual work in the theatre scene where I am from.

    I gained admissions to a pretty decent university last year to do my degree in drama. I had a fantastic first term, being engaged at a level I have never before been at, and it was exciting, like a new part of my brain has been activated to see my art with clearer eyes. But came second term and I didn’t get as excited as I was the first term… I was essentially using the same part of my brain and ways of thinking that had been activated.

    So I looked through my modules in Year 2 and 3 and realized there really wasn’t going to be more ‘activating new regions of my brain’ feeling. So I thought it really didn’t justify the exorbitant amounts of money I was paying for university.

    So I left university about a month ago.

    I am now back home, starting from the bottom. I am teaching drama to school students, directing plays, lighting shows and on the lookout for residencies that I could get involved with to find new ways of approaching my work.

    It’s just been about 3 weeks since I have started this and I think it has been about the most important and best decision I have made for myself.

    Different strokes for different folks, but mine wasn’t in the university.

    • Volen says:

      That’s great to hear. A big reason for most people to go to university is fear… Fear that if they don’t they limit their options to menial jobs. Unfortunately what happens is that universities could limit you even more, because of tremendous debt and 0 skill to show for it. I can’t even imagine what it must be to have to go for years to minimum wage, no prospect jobs just to give all that money away to an organization that for all intents and purposes failed to deliver what it promises… That’s a really bad situation.
      Glad to hear it’s working out for you now, I’m sure doing things on your own and having to be creative with your life, not just with what you do, will give you many more of the “brain unlocking feeling” 😉 All the best!

  9. Thank you for sharing. I graduated 6 months ago and I feel the same way, I’m too embarrased by my portfolio and I can’t show it to any one. May I ask you how to get a job? I’m afraid to send my portfolio to the agencies and companies…

    May I translate this into Vietnamese? I think someone might need to read your opinion on this.

    • Volen says:

      Of course you can, thank you so much for wanting to, I hope it helps.

      The embarrassment and fear – put those completely aside. There’s absolutely nothing that these can do for you. They’re mechanisms of your brain put in place to prevent you from the pain of rejection, but on the flip side they also completely suppress any potential that you want to develop. Just forget it, don’t ever feel embarrassed about anything you produce. At its worst, failing just means that there is room to improve – which is an amazing thing to realize, how awesome is it to know that you can grow and get better, overcome failure, conquer fear. If you’ve decided that art is your path – then walk it like there’s no other option. You can’t get off. Fear won’t push you forward, it’ll only keep you in place or lead you astray. I don’t know what it is you think you need to work on, if you feel embarrassed then you obviously feel a weakness somewhere. Good. You have a compass on what you need to improve on. Realize that other people have 0 influence over what you do. If your work isn’t good yet, then no piece of advice, no mentor, no amount of money will fix that, the only thing that will is your work and dedication. Start doing that. Start seeking out what you need to get better at. Do that for a long enough time and there will be no room for embarrassment. If anyone rejects you – then they haven’t seen what you’re capable of yet. The work becomes the point of doing things, not just a means to a job. Take your art as a path to be mastered, not as something that will just get you employed. And also don’t identify with any result, good or bad. Art is a process, not you as a person. Art is a product. Art is merely metal and you are the blacksmith. You have full control, but you are not the piece of work you’ve created at the end of the day. I hope this helps, thank you very much for the comment and the trust to ask me for advice.

      • Thank you for your kind words and advices. I now have a super nice boss and he is teaching me a lot.
        Hope you can keep up the good works. Thanks a bunch, Volen!

        • Volen says:

          Awesome, that’s incredible to hear, I wish you more good stuff in the future 🙂 Thanks very much for letting me know.

      • Hi,
        Thank you for your advice and kind words. I now have an awesome boss and he is teaching me a lot (lucky me!).
        I hope you well. Please keep up the great work! Thanks a bunch, Volen!

  10. Michael B says:

    Love your videos and advice. I’m trying to self teach myself to become a strong artist. I would love your advice on how I could become a better artist. I draw everyday but my skills are still very weak. My best stuff is the renders of photos. My original stuff is very weak. Would love to have you as a mentor since your work shows you know how to prove and train to be a good artist.


    • Volen says:

      Hey Michael,

      Thanks very much for the trust, that’s very encouraging to hear. I wouldn’t offer any advice about anything that I don’t feel I have sufficient knowledge to help with… That’s a core point of the video, so I will need to see your work first and have a talk with you before we can determine if I can actually help. I’d only help with basics at this point. I have been thinking of private lessons for novice students, like I said in the vid, I do want to trial that first though to see whether I’m at a point where I can be of use to beginners, I see you’ve added me on facebook, I’ll message you there and arrange a free lesson if you’re interested 🙂

      Thanks very much for the support.

      • Michael B says:

        Hey Volen,
        I understand I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. 🙂 Keep up the great work! Your videos give inspiration to people like me that are constantly reminded by others that you have to go to a good art school to become a great artist (which is really expensive). Then hopefully you’ll get your foot in the door at a company and start to pay back that huge debt. My intuition has always told me that if you practice enough and study hard that you should be rewarded, doesn’t matter your background, or where you got your training, it just matters if you’ve honed your craft and it’s something that people want. So I’m glad to hear that others like yourself have proven me right!
        I look forward to hearing from you!

        • Volen says:

          Thanks very much Mike, I hope more people get more of the same from the videos and the blog. The lesson was a blast, thanks very much for seeing me.

  11. jenninexus says:

    Oo you do free lessons? If you ever do live-streams or Google Hangouts let me know I’d definitely come check it out.. watching all your videos loving the site etc 😀

    • Volen says:

      Thanks Jenni, I was thinking about doing some lessons, but I think I’ll push that back for a bit more, I’m too greedy for time 🙂 Will definitely do some more in the future though… and more free ones 😉 Thanks very much, will see you on a Google Hangout soon 🙂

  12. after read it…I recognized what must i do ….Tks you so muck Volen…! I’ll follow my dream about become a artist

  13. kevin avila says:

    Im taking a year off from school since i feel that theres just too many unnecessary classes and i havent progressed much! Within that year or maybe more (i plan to go back to graduate lol) what should i do? Should i study one subject each month? One month anatomy another perspective and so on. Do you have a plan i could possibly follow ? I plan to just work a part time job and just work on my art. Appreciate what youre doing and the videos are great, too!

    • Volen says:

      Hey man, sorry for the late reply. I’ve been thinking about your question, it’s very hard to say anything without knowing your level of work, what you’re interested in, etc. There are many, many factors. My experience has been that nothing is learned in one go, normally you do passes of everything, just like in a painting. If you do a month of anatomy, a few months down the line you’ll have to do another one, simply because you’ll be seeing so much more than before. As you progress, you’ll be reading more and more into what is essentially the same thing. You’ll just have access to more knowledge and you’ll see the same stuff in a new light.. all the time.
      The most important piece of advice I can give you is to narrow down your goal as much as possible. Picking a niche and working solely on that and all the micro skills that it entails is the fastest way to progress in one area. If your basic fundamentals need work though, then just focus on those and know that higher level concepts are not possible without first getting the basics under your belt. Try to reach higher all the time, but just be aware that as long as there are glitches in your thinking/skill level, you’ll always be sabotaged by those as you try to do something more complex. Hope this helps and good luck with the year man, keep on pushing.

  14. angelina says:

    Thank you for this I went through the exact same thing!! Apart from i got it worse because even when I was at university I was self teaching and my teacher was trying to take all the credit for the skills I learned by myself. I had to travel 2 and a half hours to get to the university, 3 days a week and because I wasn’t being taught anything when I got there, I decided to do my work from home and then hand it in when I finished. Oh and because I finished earlier before other students my tutor would actually dock significant marks from my work. Even work already marked from a previous semester the tutor, out of spite reduce those grades. For example previous year for a module I tecieved a first and 82% grade the next year that grade changed to 64%. My tutor was just being biased and unfair to me and at the end I recieved a 2,1 instead of a first degree that I actually deserved. (So much bad stuff happened at uni this is just a tiny summary of what happened.)

    My uni experience was a nightmare which badly knocked my confidence. Another thing is it has actually been nearly 2 years since i finished uni and I’m still jobless trying to build something for myself so I can get a job. I’m self teaching but recently i’ve joined an online course at called Level up and it has blown my mind, why the information has been kept secret by the schools and universities. I’ve learnt so much in a few weeks than I have in my whole time at secondary school, sicth form and uni put together. This is just shocking and I’m angry because i’m nearly 23years old and if I had this information when I was at school when I left I probably would have built a portfolio and got a job within a year. So now I’ve gone back to the basics trying to build those skills and I’m progressing so much faster now, just like you are.

    (If anyone is interested in joining Level up like I have the link is here: )

    • Volen says:

      Wow… Very sorry to hear that Angelina, that sounds like a horrible experience. Thankfully it’s not the norm and most people get something from uni, but in cases like yours I can’t wrap my head around how someone would expect to be paid a huge sum of money for a service that’s useless or detrimental. If it wasn’t for all the myths surrounding degrees and people being pushed into getting one – I don’t think a lot of universities would have survived as a business. No one would pay for that and there are alternatives that are a fraction of the cost and are hugely effective. Best of luck to you, sounds like you’re in a much better place now 🙂

  15. Lily Brownie says:

    Hi Volen,

    I happened to see your website and YouTube about 10000 drawing practices within a year and I think you are really a self-regulated person that I do admire and appreciate.
    Your article does remind me of a recent experience at Rendering and Illustraion course (bachelor) at my university. It was two days ago. I am a beginner of hand drawing, with only self-taught experience since a child and then have not practised much after High School due to examinations for college extrance. I was seeking for skills about storyboard hand drawing and how to visualise on paper for what I think in mind. This is the reason I take this course. However, in the class two days ago, the class topic was about colour toning and colour contrasting; my teacher gave us orders to draw a pencil, a ball and a pencil in bending posture throughout paper. I drew as trying to following the instructions. But my teacher walked to me and scolded, “why can’t you follow my words. You are not listening at all. I’ve told you not to draw the outline of a circle for the ball with your black pen.””You are not listening, Lily. What are you drawing? Go off the table and see what your classmates are doing.” Then in the peer-review part of all students’ drawing about each task in the class, my teacher saw my drawing pined on the board, and he just ignored giving instructions like he did to other classmates, instead he said “This is just beginning. Ok let’s see the top left one.” During the whole class, the teacher just seemed to ignore me or just scolded me. Because my classmates are all in the Graphics design degree with , and I am the only one from digital media degree majored in video and sound. This is only the Week 2 class in my course. I was suddenly feel so frustrated and depressed in my drawing. I even questioned about my ability of drawing. Am I not suitable to draw? I did very hard during the past week, drawing every day, spending hours hours onto the homework and self-practice goal. As for the homework I did for Week 1 topic, Self-Caricature, my teacher just scolded me in front of all my classmates, “Lily, have you done research on CARICATURE?” I replied, “Yes. I have done my research.” Yes definitely. I have done a lot of work on that homework, theorectically and practically onto a paper by brainstorming all possible characteristics of what a caricature is. But the cofusing part was, I didn’t really understand how to start with my self-caricature drawing, I didn’t know where to start with. Teacher did not really give any instructions about that topic practically like a “How-to” & “Where to”. As a beginner of drawing, I really tried hard to draw myself from a recent selfie in pencil for about 6 hours on paper (it was difficult to draw with other ink pens because it could not be corrected once draw wrong), however, it was not exaggerating as a proper caricature. “Tell me, Lily. What is CARICATURE?” My teacher questioned me. “It is about exaggeration of specific characteristics of a person, which is a common illustration method in politics, education, business, and art.” “So tell me, what is your drawing exaggerating about?””I..I tried to draw it. I have spent…” He stopped me. “None. NOthing. Yours is a portrait drawing. Ok students, these are the failed homework for this week. Redo it. Otherwise you cannot pass this course.”


    I feel so frustrated. I was meant to learn the skills about how to illustruate your ideas from mind to paper (as introduced from the course description). But so far through the two-week classes (one class per week), I felt so lost and low in motivation of my initial daily drawing self-learning plan. Am I nothing but a bad student in my class without no talent in drawing compared to my classmates in Year 2 Graphics design course? I am Year 4 Digital Media student major in Video and Sound. Most of my works are audio-visual related work. I enrolled in this course in order to learn skills of doing storyboarding and storytelling skills via drawing. I prapred myself to receive challenge and go out of my comfort zone.
    However, for now…I even want to stop drawing due to the experiences in class.

    Could you give any advice or just anything to such a badly behaving student who ought to get ignored in class?
    Apologies for my bad typing and grammar.

    Kind regards,

    • Volen CK says:

      Hi Lily 🙂
      There are plenty of incredible resources available. If your school wasn’t good and the environment was not helpful for you – there are world class artists sharing their skills on so many platforms right now. Don’t worry or despair – just change what you’re doing. Anyone can learn to draw, you just need some persistence and good instruction. Check out some online courses and get to work 🙂

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