Lessons For A Lifetime: Transferable Skills

Yosemite 1 (c) David Hockney

Yosemite 1
(c) David Hockney

Last week I had the good fortune to view the David Hockney exhibit, A Bigger Exhibition, at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. What a treat! Clearly, this artist knows color. His intense yellows, vibrant oranges, and bright blues and greens are explosive in their depiction of the numerous portraits and plein air landscapes that comprise the majority of this exhibit.

I’ve been a Hockney fan for a while, but what really caught my attention this time was his exploration of new mediums. In 2009, just two years after the iPhone was launched, Hockney began using it as an artistic tool, using the touchscreen to “paint” dogs, flowers and everyday objects; then emailing the images to his friends. Lucky friends! In 2010 he turned to the iPad, and since then has positively exploited still and video cameras as well, pushing technology to portray the world as he sees it.

In one room of A Bigger Exhibition, attendees view an almost “Cubist-like” movie, created from digital video cameras. The results were synchronized and presented on nine 55-inch NEC screens to depict varied viewpoints of a changing landscape. Another room showed individual stroke and color choices as they were applied on an iPad – giving us a lesson in how Hockney actually paints. Throughout all, his distinct style, vision and color palette remain the same.

A Bigger Matelot Kevin Druez 2 (c) David Hockney

A Bigger Matelot Kevin Druez 2
(c) David Hockney

For many of today’s artists, the integration of traditional techniques with new mediums may not be a new phenomenon.  But what is blatantly clear in this show is the transference of skills, and of vision, from one medium to many.

Artistic skills are transferable. Don’t feel hemmed in by one major or area of study. Just because you decide to pursue a degree in painting, or sculpture, or fashion design doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re tied to that particular medium forever. What’s learned in one can be applied to another. David Hockney has clearly shown us the way to do that.

So, here’s my question to you: Given the skills you’ll gain in college, what limitations will you leave behind? What boundaries will you push beyond? I hope you’ll let me know.

Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Art and Business at a Liberal Arts College

smart car 2

Smart Car

It’s difficult to find a school that combines the study of art and business for you.  It can be done, but requires time and dedication. I’ve been researching art programs at both large and small colleges across the country for a while now, and am still surprised to find how few opportunities exist for art students who want to enhance their studies with business courses.  As I referenced in an earlier post, we live in the age of iPhones, Smart Cars and ergonomic seating; the intrinsic value of combining design and business seems like it should be obvious. If you’re looking to merge the two in college, there are two paths to choose from; an art school or liberal arts institution.

The decision to attend a private liberal arts college or state university might seem like the easier road to combining art and business, but buyer beware. General studies institutions are typically larger, and offer a wider variety of introductory and even advanced business classes to integrate into your schedule. However – and this is important – attending a larger school doesn’t always solve the problem.  Here’s why. Even though a university offers business courses, that doesn’t mean they’ll be easily accessible to you. When signing up for classes, wherever you attend college, priority is always given to upperclassmen and to those majoring in that subject area, i.e. students who need the course to graduate. Some schools will open business classes to students who are non-business majors, but due to popularity the classes often fill up fast and you’ll have limited time to take them. The take away: even though a university may offer more business classes, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get into the ones you want. Unfortunately, that’s the hard truth.

Don’t get me wrong, studying art at a liberal arts institution is an excellent place to gain an arts education. That’s where I did it! Yet, unless you’re seriously considering double majoring, I wouldn’t choose one based on their business listings alone.

So, how do you overcome being locked out of those classes you want to take? Do your homework now. Talk with the admissions representatives and ask the difficult questions; “how realistic is it that I can seriously integrate business courses with my art degree?” And “what classes will be open to me?” Then, once enrolled, work with your college advisor to ensure you’ll get the classes you want. There are no guarantees, but doing your homework before you’ve committed to a school will give you a clearer picture of the environment before classes even begin.

Art schools are a different story all together. They don’t offer a lot of business courses. Some list general marketing and business overview classes while others provide professional practice classes specific to each major. Once again, each school is different, so you’ll need to do some digging to find out how each one is set up.

I’ve found some winning offerings at four art schools across the country; CCAD, OTIS, SCAD and Ringling. I don’t want my posts to go on too long, so I’ll give you the details of what makes them stand out over the next two weeks.