The sheer volume of information accessible to the art student today is absolutely mind-boggling. Compare this to prehistoric times when dinosaurs used the internet purely to send emails, a time when you would ask Photoshop politely to execute a filter function on a 72 dpi image, leave for your lunch break and return to see the trusty old hourglass still rotating on the Mac/PC-Hybrid that was the fastest machine in the computerlab.
Not only are you being provided help with all sorts of software issues via websites and youtube clips today, but also with demonstrations of all conceivable traditional media – something sorely missed out on by the generations of art-students that were at art college at the dawn of computerlabs at the simultaneous expense of traditional artclasses.Books and self-instruction will get most people only so far.
I remember an Illustrator being brought in as one rare event to present our class with some demo of real life projects she had done, and to provide us with feedback on our work. “The problem”, she snapped, after having looked at our sketches, “the problem of you ALL is:… (dramatic pause) You CAN’T draw!” Made you wonder how she had been treated by her tutors to feel the need to retaliate in such a way. On one hand, how inspired will you be after such an address? After that none of us felt really compelled to follow in her footsteps and create packaging for tea bags. But we were polite if somewhat indifferent and yes, probably ignorant, too.
In the end, a tutor can only be held responsible to a certain extent for the motivation, or lack thereof, of students. If there is no driving force within you that makes you want to draw, paint, write, get better and put the hours in, probably noone will.
Still, I think that tutoring and the way it is done – the art of being a tutor, if you will – is important. Even if you disagree with your tutors. Most of the time it is not just engaging with your subject but with the people around you that informs your art and informs others about your art and your self. And the art of constructive criticism, conference and cooperation vs. conflict, commitment and some sprinkles of old-fashioned courtesy.
Even if you do not copy a tutor’s style of drawing, painting, sculpting down to the tee – and you would not want to – you learn from the general approach and from your fellow students in a studio atmosphere. You can get some of that atmosphere back in a computerlab, but it is different and I know I missed something vital during my time at Uni as people tended to work from home a lot.
This lack of synergy can be partly made up for by social media, chats, numerous platforms to flaunt and flog your art, but only partly.
Still, mustn’t grumble, if you want to take a snoop into just about any medium at all, you can. And most of the stuff is at your disposal for free, or you get free snippets and can access paid prime content. Which is only fair. Patreon is a good crowdfunding scheme to make content available to online students. The fairy tale that any online content should be absolutely and unreservedly free to download, use and redistribute can only come from people that have a wishing-table at home and I do not recall those being on offer at IKEA’s. (would be worth an illustration, though!)