Ah, the age old question.
Simply listing the pros and cons of both sides isn’t going to get you anywhere (previously, Myung wrote a great bullet point article on this, so check that out too!). There’s successful artists coming from both camps – to list a few, Naoko Takeuchi (Sailormoon) was a pharmacology major and a licensed pharmacist before her first hit Sailor V was published, and Mari Yamazaki (Thermae Romae) was an art history major who studied abroad in Firenze. It’s a difficult decision, really, and a personal one at that.
SO what can I tell you? Not much, since I’m not trying to make a career out of traditional arts and didn’t go to art school – in fact, I was a biology major in college, and the closest thing to an art class I’ve ever taken was photography in high school.
Instead, I asked three of my friends for their input and samples. You know, people who are actually planning to go in the field and are studying for it. For this comparison exercise, I had three students – one university, two art school – do a short comic based on the same manuscript. The whole point of this exercise is to see how three kids from three different educational backgrounds would engage the audience, pace the story, and deliver a message from the same source.
I gave all three of them the same excerpt from Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End Of The World, and told them to have fun with it. That’s it.
Here’s a little background for those of you unfamiliar with the book…(from Wikipedia): A newcomer to ‘the End of the World’, a strange, isolated walled Town. The narrator is in the process of being accepted into the Town. The narrator is assigned quarters and a job as the current “Dreamreader”: a process intended to remove the traces of mind from the Town. He goes to the Library every evening where, assisted by the Librarian, he learns to read dreams from the skulls of unicorns.
Comics, or sequential art is the art of storytelling, and no story is complete without the 5Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. This is how this short scene is broken down:
Who is it about? – There are two characters in this story: the “Dream Reader”, and his assistant, the “Librarian”.
What is happening? – The Dream Reader is questioning the purpose of his job and the Librarian is offering advice on it.
When did this happen? – When the Dream Reader was at work.
Where did it take place? – at the library.
Why did this happen? – Because the Dream Reader has to do his daily job.
With that, here’s a sample that I did:
Simple, right? Now let’s see how each artist rendered this situation:
[Click on the thumbnails to read it full size!]
Mai goes to a research university that is known for agricultural studies, engineering, architecture and design. Aside from her graphic design classes, she took general education classes such as history, geology, and classical literature.
“I know people hate general education classes, but I think it’s a crucial source of inspiration and knowledge, and it really broadens your perspective,” says Mai, and that’s apparent in her art style. Mai’s art is very detailed, dreamy colored, with a strong emphasis on typography – all an accumulation of what interests, inspires, and moves her.
In this piece, keep an eye out for the protagonist’s facial expressions and body language, as it illustrates emotional fatigue and confusion that he is going through as a dream reader.
[Click on the thumbnails to read them full size!]
Blankd goes to one of the leading private art schools in the country – The Art Institutes. Students in the Game Art and Design major are initially trained in classical art studies such as drawing and color theory, and then move onto computer graphics, animation, and 3D modeling. “School doesn’t necessary guarantee success but it can help a great deal in minimizing problems and addressing misconceptions as well as breaking bad art habits,” according to Blankd. “I feel that art school is necessary for most to have a good understanding of sequential art, (but) I should still note that the following classes are helpful: story boarding, background and layout, character design, character acting/gesture and optionally, a foundations of animation class.”
Blankd’s art style is marked by emotive gestures and facial expressions – keep an eye out for the direction of the conversation and power balance that the two characters express with their hands and eyes..
3. Yujin Lee [portfolio]
4th year Visual Communications major at School of Art Institute, Chicago
Favorite Comic: Blankets, Fullmetal Alchemist, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
[Click on the thumbnails to read them full size!]
Yujin goes to one of the nation’s biggest accredited independent art and design school. Prior to attending SAIC, Yuj was a math major at a different university – so she’s a good mix of both art school and non-art school. SAIC is unique in the sense that the students have the freedom of which classes to take, rather than moving along a set syllabus; aside from her major classes, she has taken courses in comics and graphic design, which “really opened (her) eyes to the little nuances of a piece that either makes it or breaks it. The little details that no one really notices, but without it, it just wouldn’t be complete.”
Yujin’s wide spectrum of studies results in bold stylization with heavy textures, and unique storyboarding – this piece is short and sweet, with a strong closing!
Now that I’ve given you input from three different artists, allow me ask you this: to art school or to not art school? And be sure to let me know the answer when you’ve figured it out!