A Note to Graduating High School Seniors Considering Art School

Posted by Whitney Morman on

Having gone to art school at Texas Tech, I thought I would provide a bit of insight into my experience and hopefully, this will open some eyes or provide a chuckle if nothing else. 

My time at Texas Tech was preceded by 3 years at South Plains College both at the Reese campus and in Levelland. I went through numerous attempts at majors and finally ended up in Art building which I still consider a second-home to this day. If I remember nothing else of my time at SPC, I remember walking into the Art Building and what it smelled like. Yes, you read that right. "What it smelled like." A mixture of paints, charcoal, metalsmithing, and abundant creativity. I've never been so overjoyed by a scent so much other than a fresh box of crayons. #thataintnojokeneither

I highly recommend going to a community college before you take your first strides through the crimson & black halls at Texas Tech or wherever else you choose to go. 

SPC schedule over a 2 year period consisted of the following: 
*Keep in mind, I had already completed basics by this time.*

Metal & Jewelrysmithing: 3-4 semesters, you won't regret taking this class. 
Art History: I had one amazing professor and I learned more in the 3 semesters of art history than I had in all of my high school classes combined. 
Art (General): I can't remember what the name of this class was but it was more about re-learning the color wheel but in a creative way, putting your creative mind to work in ways you had forgotten you had... It was a very neat class and a nice change of pace. 
Acrylic Painting: The professor I had, unfortunately, is no longer with us but he would sit a ways back behind students and watch them work. On occassion, he'd get up and grab a medium, paint, or tool and bring it over to someone and say "try this and see where it takes you." He did that with me once and provided an opaque, almost neon yellow paint. I thought he was crazy until it made the piece. I then sold that piece about a year or two later at my first art show in New Mexico to a couple that couldn't stand to not take it with them. 
Drawing: The same professor that taught painting also taught my in my first summer of art classes and drawing was too easy and too fun. A small class of about 7 people and you become friends real fast. We barely touched pencils as most of the class was about charcoals and I still get lost in the dark smudges and powder every now and then. Charcoal is super easy to fall in love with. 

Having been at SPC for 3 years (after changing my major multiple times), I was actually considered a junior by the time I was ready to move-on to Tech. I started off a little bitter because not all of my credits would transfer. I spent my first year at Tech retaking classes I had already taken and passed at SPC because of credits. My first class was not the experience I wanted. 

Photography: Now, let me preface this with, the person teaching this course has since moved on to better things (Amen.) and despite not getting along with this person (nor did anyone else in the class) I did learn a thing or two. We completed a summer session of photography including film and digital development. Yes, we got to use the darkroom and it's awesome. It is possible you'll go broke working with film. Keep that in mind for all you photography fiends. 
Oil Painting: Now, for those of you who have followed me for a while, you know this story already. But for those of you who don't, here's the shortened version: I had dabbled in oils prior to attending Texas Tech. I had already made up my mind that they were stupid and unnecessary. (Clears throat & swallows pride.) I was wrong. Completely and undeniably wrong. We had a grad student for a teacher and she herself was an amazing painter. It was this class that made me switch from loving acrylics to somewhat looking down on them as a medium. I now use oils for every single painting and I'm not looking back. 
Foreign Language: The program I ended up in to achieve my degree was actually the first of its kind. I was the guinea pig. It required I take a number of hours of a foreign language. Spanish is what mine was and I barely passed all three semesters. Moving on... 
Pottery & Handbuilding: Pottery is awesome, if you pay attention and assert your mind, you'll come out a new potter with hands of gold... Or something like that. Handbuilding: I hate handbuilding. Our professor was a bit unstable I think and ruined a number of students' pieces by 'helping' and then docked their grade for it. Beware of the helping professor is my only advice on this one.
Mixed Media: Is a joke of a class. This is where people make things out of styrofoam and share their feelings or make up some BS about what this pile of garbage means to them. Avoid it if you can. I skipped a lot of class... 
Life Drawing: This professor was rude and changed drawing tactics on the reg. If you enjoy being stared at by a naked man holding a long wooden stick while you're drawing parts of him you wished you never seen, this class is for you. I attended every single class, turned in every sketchbook on time, and still somehow managed to only obtain a C. Some people just shouldn't teach. 
Art History: Holy ground is what I call this. I also minored in History while at Tech so anything regarding history, especially art history was welcomed with open arms. (Except for the 60's era art, I didn't enjoy that one as much as others...) I had two wonderful professors, one I know is still there, the other I didn't expect to stay longer than a couple of years. The one that's still there, art students stare at their computer screens for hours until the schedule opens up so they can be first in her classes. She's just that good. 
History: As I said, I minored in history so, it's obvious that I had to take a number of history courses. Choose these carefully if you go this route. Specifically, I took History of France (AMAZING), U.S. History from 1911-1945, Roaring '20s & The Depression - I took a summer course with a bad-to-the-bone professor from New York. She was awesome, the class was awesome... The only history course I took at Tech that I didn't enjoy was Greek Mythology and that's because those myths were insane and super difficult to keep apart. I dropped it after the first test. 

My time at Tech, given what I've mentioned above, was enjoyable. I enjoyed the classes I wanted to take and some that I was forced into. One piece of advice for anyone attempting to try-out art school of any kind: If you're strong-willed and have a mind of your own full of common sense, don't let art school change you. It can be a beat down but be tougher than it. 

Also, one last funny story: 
At Tech, you ride the busses to get from class to class if you have the time to wait on them. As an art student, you carry a lot of things like canvases, drawing pads, sketchbooks, pottery toolboxes, cameras, paint palettes, brushes, and paint... Those bus drivers don't give a crap so, if you can find a seat, do. If you can't, there's a chance you'll end up swinging around one of the poles on the bus and land in a football player's lap, big backpack first. If he's cool, he'll laugh it off and push you off when you tell him you can't get up. Bags are a great thing... Buy some. 


Good luck! 

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