A Passionate Future or a Practical One: Do Students Need to Differentiate?

Parents are frequently tested. It just comes with the territory.

Naturally, we want our college-bound teens to have fulfilling majors and careers. If their passion is in science, math, or engineering (STEM) then they – and we – are lucky. Those are the fields of the future we’re advised. That’s where the lucrative careers are and will be.

rightbrain-leftbrainBut what about our creative offspring, those wanting to study and build careers based in the visual arts? Can’t they also have fulfilling and lucrative careers? Should we advise them to follow their passions, or towards what’s deemed a more practical future?

The answers don’t come easily. Doubts and questions arise about the long-term consequences of following one’s artistic passion. Job opportunities seem fewer and the chance of making a living often seems questionable.

Young visual artists, designers, and their parents should know about a great opportunity that’s smack in the middle of the STEM world. It’s the junction where technology meets creative. An article in last month’s LATimes spells it out from the perspective of CalArt’s president Steven D. Lavine. “Arts educators and technology chief executive officers are acknowledging once again that the two fields not only work hand-in-hand but that technological advances are often nourished by arts-inspired creative methods and critical thinking,” the article reads. Bottom line: engineers, entrepreneurs, and those in the tech world need our creative kids.

I’ve waxed before about the need to merge right-brain and left-brain thinkers. Analytical and linear thinkers need creative designers who process information holistically, and vice versa. There is great value in combining these diverse perspectives. Visual artists naturally think outside the proverbial box. And, the skills they learn in college – beyond the artistic ones – of persistence, incorporating criticism into newfound solutions, and teambuilding are beneficial to solving the technical problems of today and tomorrow.

CalArts has promoted this cross-pollination for decades. Other colleges are recognizing the value as well. When searching for college options for your teen, make sure to inquire about each one’s approach to the collaboration of these two fields. You’ll find more opportunities for your teen’s future, and more peace of mind for yourself.

 

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Where Art and Science Meet

STEAM graphic.indd

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the top institutions in the country to study art and design.  Saying the school is a leader is an understatement.

One of the institution’s more recent efforts has been to focus overdue attention on the arts as part of a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) dedicated education; turning STEM into STEAM. Many don’t realize the critical role art and design play in successfully integrating STEM into mainstream society.  Where innovation is concerned, it’s a symbiotic relationship.  Need an example? Think Steve Jobs and Apple.

Will Novosedlik is a passionate brand management consultant in Canada who recently wrote about the critical intersection where art and design collide with math, science and technology.  This collision is taking place on numerous campuses across the globe.  Read his blog, Post-Industrial Art School, and you’ll realize this collision is happening on art school campuses like RISD and Pratt, but also at less traditional and perhaps unexpected locales as well – like MIT.

What does it mean for you?

Creativity and innovation will play an increasingly essential role in our future.  If your interest is in studying art and design there are a lot of potential career paths you could walk, more than you might initially consider. There are also more places to obtain an art education than you might initially imagine.  So keep your eyes and your mind open.  If you’re passion lies at the heart of design and technology then look for schools that provide the opportunity to mesh the two.  That may be at a traditional art school – or maybe not.  If your top choice school isn’t shouting about an integrated arts – science program that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Don’t be shy; tell them about your interests and ask what type of collaboration is already in place or how open they are to new ventures.  Who knows?  You may help create a new opportunity for you and other interested students.