The Pros and Cons of “Big City” Art Schools

Have you ever dreamed about having a successful artistic career in the big city? If you have, you’re certainly not alone. It’s only natural for an artist to be attracted to the glamour and the galleries, the culture, the museums, and the fashion that big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami have to offer aspiring artists.

As a prospective art student trying to decide whether to pursue an art education, the question of where to focus your studies becomes especially important. After all, attending art school in artsy cities like New York and L.A. have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

To help make your decision a little easier, consider these pros and cons.

3 Reasons you SHOULDN’T GO to art school in a big city

1. Cities are pricey

You’ve probably heard this already, but places like New York City are extremely expensive. If you move somewhere that costs this much to live, you will really have to stretch your student budget to be able to afford rent, let alone food, books and incidentals.

Rent won’t be the only thing that costs a premium; you’ll also pay more for taxis, groceries and things like movie tickets.

Before making the move to the big city you’ll have to decide if you want to take out an even bigger loan to help cover the sizeable cost of tuition and living expenses.

2. What if you don’t like it?

You may not love where you live, but you probably don’t hate it either. One problem you may encounter by moving to a city like New York is getting there and realizing you don’t really like it. Maybe you’ve even been before, and maybe you had fun on vacation, but hitting the tourist spots and living somewhere are entirely different things.

Before you move, you should decide if you actually like being in a crowded concrete jungle. Some artists treasure their access to fresh air and open spaces, and beyond Central Park, NYC isn’t famous for its rolling meadows and peaceful forests.

Going to art school will be an emotional and mental challenge. Being comfortable in your local environment by going to school where you live could help alleviate some of the added stress of moving to an unknown and densely populated environment.

Besides, don’t you want to have your friends and family around to help provide a network of support and encouragement while you’re at art school?

3. The competition could be intimidating

Anyone who comes from a small town or medium-sized city can relate to feeling overwhelmed and intimidated in a giant metropolis like New York City. People who aren’t used to the fast-paced environment, breakneck speed of business, and crowds of people rushing around can’t be blamed for feeling disoriented and overwhelmed.

Plus, a lot of the people with whom you will be competing for gallery space, attention, and jobs are already from big cities; these big city natives will have a certain degree of “home court advantage.” If you think that all that pressure doesn’t sound like your ideal environment, you should consider alternative locations for art school.

3 Reasons you SHOULD GO to art school in a big city

1. Cities are creative engines

Now that you’ve thought about some drawbacks to going to art school in the big city, it’s time to consider a few reasons that attending school in a city could help your artistic development.

First of all, cities are well-documented creative centers. Advertising agencies, fashion houses, the entertainment industry, the publishing industry, and countless fine art galleries and museums are all located in big cities.

Creative people like being around other creative people. Cities offer artists the perfect opportunity to interact with myriad creative types every day. If the thought of having more artistic events than you have hours in the day sounds exciting, consider moving to the city for art school.

2. Cities are inspirational

Some artists like solitude to concentrate on their work. A lot of artists, however, draw energy and inspiration by working around and collaborating with other artists. If you ever find yourself in a dry spell, a city has hundreds of things that can help inspire your next creative endeavor.

If the collective energy of thousands of people experimenting with new art forms sounds interesting, then you should definitely consider studying art in a big city.

Who knows, maybe watching a little art film, or talking to a graphic novel writer at a cafe will inspire you in directions you would have never been exposed to had you studied somewhere else.

3. Cities are centers of the art industry

Besides offering exposure to a lot of different art and the chance to meet a variety of creative people, big cities are also the center of many artistic industries.

The entertainment industry operates mainly out of Los Angeles and New York. Hundreds of shows and movies are filmed, produced, written, and directed in each city.

The fashion industry also operates out of New York and Los Angeles. Most successful designers and fashion houses operate large creative enterprises on each coast.

Fine artists like painters and sculptors also like to showcase their art in the various galleries and museums that big cities provide. If you want to work as a designer, illustrator or even an animator, chances are good that you’ll find the majority of these jobs concentrated in just a few big cities.

Should I stay or should I go?

Ultimately, going to art school is a personal decision that requires a lot of individual consideration. Before you make such a monumental choice, spend some time thinking about your future goals and use those to help you plan.

For example, if you want to be a fashion designer, going to art school in a big city and networking with fashion industry insiders could be important. If you would like to be a graphic designer for websites, going to art school in a smaller city could still teach you the skills you need for your career.

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