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9 Things To Remind People When They Say Studying Art Is a Waste of Time

Picture the scene: you’re at a family meal. The hot topic right now is what all the young’uns at the table are doing in life. One of your cousins is studying medicine, another modern languages.

You, on the other hand, are studying *gasps* art.

While your cousins are met with a simple ‘ahh’ and polite questions about how it’s all going, you are met with exclamations of shock and, frankly, bewilderment, because why on earth would you want to study art?!

Spoiler alert: apparently the desire to study art needs further reasoning behind it than simply ‘because I want to’, which, by the way, more than sufficed when cousin Sophie said it about her English literature degree three summers ago. But there you go.

“Art?! What are you going to do with that?” And so the condescending questions that urge you to look for validation within yourself continue.

However, you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Here are just 9 things you can remind people of whenever they make even the slightest judgement of your choice of degree.

1. The creative industry is the only inflating industry at present.

According to government figures released last year, the creative job sector is growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy – generating almost £10million per hour. The creative industry includes music, films, television, graphic and fashion design, museums and galleries, and performing and visual arts, and is worth a whopping £84.1 billion to the UK economy. And guess what? An Art degree can get you pretty far in said industry.

2. If you’re studying in the UK, you’re studying in the best place for it.

The UK has the largest creative sector of the European Union. In terms of the Great British Pound, it is actually the largest in the world and according to UNESCO, the creative industry is the most successful exporter of cultural goods and services… in the world. Now it’d be a shame for that boat to sail without you, wouldn’t it?

3. There’s an endless number of disciplines and areas to study within art.

Let’s cut back to that family meal for a second. “Aren’t there enough paintings and stuff in the world already?” Uncle Nigel pipes up. Isn’t that cute? Excuse me whilst I slam Uncle Nigel’s face into every bowl of food on this table. If I were studying medicine like cousin Mary over there, you wouldn’t say: “Oh, you must really like Paracetamol then?”

*Takes a deep breath* There’s audio art, film making, sculpture, performance art, video installation, printmaking, photography, fashion design, animation, jewellery, graphic design, illustration, metal and woodwork… and that’s just those I can name in the amount of time I have before re-loading my fork and refraining from eating with my mouth open, which Uncle Nige has clearly failed to do.

4. Art helps to build mental focus, improve physical dexterity, reduce stress, and increase personal enjoyment.

On-going research has proven that skills developed through the study of art encourage graduates when it comes to achieving success in other aspects of life. It is only common sense that, in our image-laden society, Visual Art and Design is an integral part of every business. Students in the Visual Arts learn to understand both ‘the big picture’ and the nuances within it. They learn to meet a variety of challenges by formulating creative solutions and revisions. These are the sorts of perceptions and abilities that employers and post secondary institutions seek.

5. The internet has created an explosion of opportunities for digital designers and multimedia artists.

In a world filled with computers, the demand for web designers, app designers, software designers, graphic designers, digital illustrators, multimedia artists, video producers, online publishers, animation artists, game designers and many other digital careers is increasing faster than ever. Artists can reach a worldwide market at the click of a button. This doesn’t mean to say that making a living in these fields is easy; competition remains tough. Success will always require skill, commitment, dedication and good business sense.

6. Transferable skills.

Now, bear with me; I know it’s an overused phrase. However, let’s not undersell the fact that those with a wide skill set really do have an advantage in any career. Art enhances fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills, lateral thinking, expressing thoughts and emotions, complex analysis and critical thinking skills. No matter what career you choose, those who can arrange, present and display material in a way that is aesthetically pleasing have an advantage. That’s a one-up on Nigel…

7. You have to prove yourself capable of more than just being able to sit an exam.

I’m just going to say it: some people only do as well as they do in a subject because they’re good at exams. They have a talent for absorbing information and regurgitating it under pressure in an exam. But set them course work or an ongoing project, and they suddenly start to flounder. Art students do a mixture of both, proving that we’re capable of succeeding in a broader range of environments.

8. You might just find yourself the source of someone else’s inspiration.

Art galleries can be found across the nation housing some of the UK’s and the world’s most cherished artists, such as J.M.W Turner, David Hockney and Tracy Emin. That could well be you one day.

9. If you’re going to spend £27,000 on a degree, let it be on one you actually enjoy.

Sure, you could’ve studied Law like your mum’s best friend’s brother’s step-son is doing, but if you had done, it would be costing you the same, you just wouldn’t be getting half as much enjoyment out of it (unless you happen to love Law, in which case, great).

So, the next time somebody questions your degree, your dreams or ambitions, just remember: Albert Einstein once said “imagination is more important than knowledge.”

This isn’t to say those who work in art are any less knowledgeable than those who don’t, but certainly remind yourself of Eistein’s belief and successes over Uncle Nigel’s belly-fuel snort-chuckles. The jokes will run dry.

Before I leave you, here’s Steve Jobs with one last reminder of why your art degree is definitely not a waste of time:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have lots of dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solution without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” – Steve Jobs

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