It’s September as I write this, and time to head “back to school” to learn more about art and expand your horizons. But how do you know which class to take?
We live in an age of so many choices. Between videos, reviews, and blogs, there’s a lot of good information (and some misinformation) out there. When you’re a newbie, it’s great to consider your options. But what should you believe? Better yet, whom should you learn from?
I recently read a Facebook tutorial that recommended a product I knew would not work. It was written by a self-professed “beginner” who used a major company’s product simply to promote it.
Sadly, this experience is all too common, especially in the field of art. And I believe this kind of teaching is lowering the bar on artistic achievement for professionals, crafters, and everyone in between.
Imagine if we did not take other occupations seriously—occupations like builders, accountants, dentists, and especially, airline pilots! No one would stand for it. But it happens in art because it’s more subjective than other professions.
(Although I should point out that many elements in art are not subjective, such as color wheels, design elements, and drawing techniques. These are an important foundation for artists and art teachers alike.)
As an eternal student, I value the time and expense it takes to learn. After studying with at least 50 professional artists, I’ve been able to validate what they teach simply because I keep hearing similarities in lessons from more than a few instructors.
So if you’re new to art, and especially if you’re serious about improving, here’s what I recommend doing before you sign up for a class, whether in person or online:
As you read the course descriptions
• Consider other students’ endorsements (if you know them)
• Ask for an instructor’s bio if it’s not included
• Attend a free presentation, if offered, before you enroll
• Visit their FB page, website, IG site, YouTube channel, etc
• Read recent press or articles on the topic or instructor
• Ask yourself: Are they skilled at what I want to learn?
Red flags to watch out for
Does the course description repeatedly emphasize that you will leave feeling good about yourself, or that it’s nonstop fun and excitement? These classes often skip over important skills (that aren’t as easy to learn) in order to keep students happy.
Is the course description loaded with persuasive marketing terms: “In hours, you’ll be painting like an awesome rock star,” or “This is your last opportunity!” etc? Does it promise that “you’ll stop stressing out about the chaos in your studio” instead of saying, “our organizing systems are presented in an interactive format for easy implementation”?
Look for real descriptions of the course, and don’t be swayed by last-minute offers or persuasive language if there’s not enough detail about the course to back it up.
Lastly, is the cost of the class similar to others within the same area, or with a similar instructor? Online prices can vary outrageously, and it’s well-worth comparing prices to make sure you’re getting a fair deal.
Choose your classes with intention—learning is ongoing, and it’s never too late to become a better artist!
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