I tend to get asked by anxious parents if it is a good idea for their child to study art. This topic is complex and deserves a blog post all of its own. Aside from the creative careers issue and the more popular discussion about art leading to a job/career I thought it would be interesting to share some of the skills and attributes I associate with studying art. I’ve recognised that there are many less obvious benefits of studying art, even if you never become a creative/artist for a living. These ‘hidden’ benefits I think are worth mentioning…
Being Culturally Aware
As I’ve got older I’ve realised that studying art has given me an awareness and love of culture. The heritage of art and design in the British culture is huge and distinct and I have developed an appreciation for it ever since I stepped inside my first art gallery. A friend of mine who is in his fifties recently admitted that he had ‘never been to an art gallery in his life‘ and while on holiday in Rome ‘knew nothing about the art‘. I thought this was a great shame and it made me aware how my love of art had given me an awareness of culture and art history which I can enjoy at home and while travelling to other countries.
If you have studied art you will study art history and going to art galleries will be much more meaningful because you understand the context and backstory of the art. There is also a certain excitement in seeing art in real life that you have studied in books/seen on websites. If you study art, people will tend to want to go to art galleries with you so you can tell them about the artist, art movement and how the work was created.
Understanding Life Through the Lens of Art
I’m interested in history but didn’t study it at school because we had the most boring history teacher who made everything sound dull. I have learnt about history through art and I feel that art is a fantastic instrument for learning about other subjects.
Studying art developed my written skills because I had to describe artworks and think about the ways of expressing feelings and thoughts they provoked. The Thesaurus becomes your friend when you write about art, which tends to widen your describing vocabulary. Not only this but many artworks leave you with more questions than answers so it is a very good subject for developing critical thinking.
A Different Way of Thinking
Studying art has made me a creative thinker who is able to problem solve. For example recently I made a scarf and splashed red dye over it by mistake. I had to think on my feet for a solution, which was to sew embroidery over it. This didn’t work, I had to unpick the stitches! I then found a solution by gathering the fabric, all this is problem solving and decision making. I think it is no coincidence that many who study art become self-employed, it is a subject where you become a self-starter able to make decisions and adapt to challenges.
What I really love about art and some others don’t like is the way that there are no answers, it’s not like maths where it is either right or it is wrong. There are many answers in art, which makes you think laterally and creatively for a solution. You will know if you have this skill because as you go through life, you will get used to hearing ‘I didn’t think of that‘.
Confident to Express Yourself
If you study art to a high level you will be required to present and talk about your own and others artwork on a regular basis. There is a certain bravery in exposing your creations and accepting criticism. The same of course could be said of any subject but I do think that talking about something so personal such as your own art does require good communication skills to get across your ideas and thought process across.