How I Deal with Negativity towards Art School

As someone who chose to go to pursue an art major at an art school, people tend to have opinions. Some are good, some are bad. It really depends on their experience with artists in everyday life. Those who have are usually encouraging, and they are willing to let you explain why you chose this path in life.


Those who only have experience with the “starving artist” stereotype won’t even let you say your major after you say you go to art school. They’ll just respond with something they think is encouraging like “good luck with that” but coupled with the condescending tone and probable eyeroll, it turns from encouragement to a judgement of your choice.


I probably don’t have to tell you this, but it gets really annoying. Half the time I want to respond with a snappy comment and have to remind myself to not let them put me on the defensive.


Take a deep breath…

And maybe a few more too. Don’t respond in anger if you choose to respond at all.

Remember that art is all around us…

The  same person who was condescending towards you uses art in their everyday life. From their clothing to scrolling through social media, an artist has designed those objects. Art is no longer confined to a gallery. It is part of everyday life.

You are doing something you love…

Isn’t that what everyone dreams of?

Artists are innovators…

You are a maker. You make things that the world may have never seen before. Take pride in that.

Remember that their comments are probably made out of ignorance…

People generally don’t think of the impact art has on their everyday lives.

Apply these tips however you feel comfortable. If you feel you could have a conversation with this person, go for it! But don’t feel obligated to. Some people just like to put other down and all the talking in the world won’t change their minds.


2 thoughts on “How I Deal with Negativity towards Art School

  1. It’s funny, as someone who didn’t go to art school and is therefore considered as an ‘outsider’ artist by the art world (this is the case in the UK, I’m not sure about in the US) it’s the negativity towards those of us who aren’t classically trained that I’ve been on the receiving end of. Just that condescension as if we couldn’t possibly be ‘real’ artists because we didn’t get taught how to be. I’d love to have gone to art school but made different choices at the time and it was only later in my life that I picked up a paintbrush again but I definitely believe that doors into the art world will open more easily for someone with an art degree than someone like me who is self taught. Mind you, I also agree with you on how in general people don’t really take being an artist seriously as a profession – perhaps because so few in the scheme of things actually are lucky enough to make a living from it without having to support our artist endeavours with other part time work (which I do!)


    1. This is really interesting! My professors on a whole love outsider art. They feel that it doesn’t have any type of institutional bias that art from people who have gone to art school sometimes have.


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