3 Reasons Why You Don't Need to Go to Art School to Become a Lettering Artist (Or Any Kind of Artist Whatsoever)

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3 Reasons Why You Don't Need to Go to Art School to Become a Lettering Artist (Or Any Kind of Artist Whatsoever)

Imposter syndrome is widespread in the graphic design industry. This is actually while hanging out with designers that I learnt the term. It seems like no matter how long you've been working in the industry, the feeling of being a fraud sticks and creeps up every time you're coming short on inspiration.

Now, if there's one type of people who get the gold medal of feeling inadequate, it's the self-taughts. They didn't get their knowledge through conventional education, and somehow, even when they're talented and recognized by their peers, they feel like they can't be taken seriously.

I'm big on self-teaching through alternative education channels. I believe the Internet era we're living in is making traditional higher education more and more irrelevant, and that's for the best because it's leveling the playing field. And because whatever social background you're coming from, I strongly believe school is not the right path for you to follow if you want to become an artist.

1. Money

Let's cut right to the chase: the traditional school system is far too expensive for what it has to offer. Now before I start getting flooded with hateful emails saying I don't know what I'm talking about, let's establish one straight fact: I do believe in education. What I don't believe in, is the traditional school system and how it takes advantage of people by making them believe it's the only way to a better life.

Gary may be talking about business in this video, but I firmly believe it applies to any non-regulated jobs (in other words, anything but becoming a doctor, lawyer, financial auditor, stuff like that). Not only you don't need a diploma to legally earn the right to make money out of being an artist, but there's also zero reason why you should spend dozens, or hundreds of thousands of dollars you don't have on education (or anything, for that matter).

You shouldn't start life with huge debt on your back. Your best asset as a growing artist is freedom. Debt is the contrary of freedom. What if you change your mind and decide to follow another path? What if it takes longer for you to figure out how to make money off of it? What if you get a great opportunity abroad but can't follow it through because the biggest part of your income is going into paying back your loan? You may be all focused on your current goals now, but taking a loan determines your future for many years ahead. In the meantime, life happens and you never know where it's going to take you.

Bottom line is, unless you have mom and dad paying for school, or money is not an issue in your life whatsoever, I strongly advice you against borrowing money to go to college. It's gonna tie your hands, and it's not worth a tenth of what it costs.

The ROI of college is getting more and more irrelevant. The world is outgrowing the college education system and soon, your expensive degree won't be worth anything. Don't believe me? Look out how, around the world, the number of unemployed people with a degree is exploding. People of good will, just like you, who decided to study for a brighter future, and find themselves stuck out of the market because employers are asking for experience they don't have.

The market doesn't care about what school you're coming out of. And even when they do, there's always another way in. No matter what this guy from this fancy tech company says about how their clients require people with computer science degrees, they would still sell their moms for a private talk by Zuck (who only got an honorary degree from Harvard, long after he became a billionaire with Facebook), or would hire any kid who built and sold something great for a position you're only dreaming of.

My point is, before you start talking about how you're not Zuck, or Nick, or any kind of genius, and how those people are exceptions and other b.s. excuses like that, that the market values doers. If you focus on making great things, it will carry a lot more value than owning a piece of paper that says you can eventually make something decent. Why? Because anybody out there can borrow money and study their way to a degree. It doesn't make anyone special. Actually making something great, on the other hand, is rare enough to be highly valuable.

2. Value

You're living in a different world than the one in which your mom and dad grew up. Back in the days, the Internet didn't exist, and college was the golden way to making something with your life. This was how you got yourself out of a humble background. Parents saved their whole life for that and pushed their kids so they could one day be admitted in the best schools of the country. This is still happening today. The thing is, college isn't the best, nor the only way to succeed like it once were.

Let's face it, traditional school is dated. It doesn't teach you anything relevant to the current world, anything practical to understand the market and help you stand out. It actually makes me sad when I see fresh grads getting hit by reality when starting to job hunt, and realizing how tough it has become for them to land a full-time position that covers their monthly loan payments. This is happening more and more and it makes me sick. We live in a world that feeds on modest people, and the traditional higher education system is one of the best working examples of it. The worst is, when they play along and bend to the rules, they're not even getting what they got involved for, because this broken system has no interest in letting people know how they're wasting their money with them.

Anything you can learn in college, you can learn online either for free or an infinitesimal fraction of a regular tuition. You'll learn more about lettering reading this blog for free, or buying a paid course under $1,000, or attending an actual lettering program held by actual big-shot lettering artists under $5,000 than going to Yale. College isn't tailored for the unique, the misfits, the underdogs. It's a one size fits all system where you either sink or swim. It doesn't teach you anything practical that maps to reality of the market, and it takes forever to teach you stuff you can learn in a much shorter amount of time, simply by being curious.

3. Experience

I'm a firm believer that your learn best by doing. The rest comes with meeting the right people. You see, while other people are learning theoretical knowledge in school, you're building actual experience. This is priceless. Experience leads to opportunities, opportunities lead to meeting interesting people, with whom you'll have conversations that fill up any gap you may have in your education. Nowadays, more and more people don't care about degrees no more. They care about what you've done, because this is an actual indication on how interesting you are.

I hate to break it to you, but not because you are interesting means you actually appear so to other people. That's the cold hard truth. The people you admire are people who do or did things you find great, and it goes the same way for how others perceive you.

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