Art School is for Cowards

Why hello there, I didn't see you come in. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Bill and I am a writer/comedian in Chicago. A little about me: I'm a Virgo, I enjoy long walks on the beach, and I like to start columns with cliché, one-man-show style, conversational monologue opens. As long as you are here, I'd like to thank you for reading Art School Dropout.

Bill Dixon on the beach with his dogAt this time I'm compelled to defend the title of my column because "dropout" can be easily misconstrued as an acknowledgment of failure. To that, I make two points: (a.) dropping out of art school isn't failure; it's common sense, and (b.) I do not acknowledge failure, ever.

My over-developed sense of entitlement, coupled with my unwavering pursuit of power and success made for awkward family game nights as a child. When I was 9 years old, after nearly submitting to a loss in the game Monopoly, I hurled my chair at my mother and grabbed fistfuls of play money off the Monopoly board and ran out into the woods to bury it for safe keeping. If my whore-mother were allowed to build a hotel on Park Place, then she would have been in an economically advantageous position to negotiate lease terms for my railroads. The Reagan Administration used this same economic leverage model to defeat the Soviets in the Cold War. I took my lessons from The Gipper and made a difficult decision: inflict physical and emotional pain in order to win. What can I say, it's my refuse to lose attitude.

It became painfully real to me that I was about to spend the next 20 minutes using a glue stick for my "college" homework.So considering my preternatural lust for power, the reasoning behind my dropping out of art school can be resolved with point (a.): art school is for cowards and derelicts.

Let me be clear, I'm not talking about the legitimate art schools, because there are a handful of them. I'm talking about the corporate chain of "art schools" in major metropolitan areas that charge 40K a year and offer no accredited program. This is the last refuge after all legitimate educational options have been exhausted.

  • Did you graduate high school with a 1.2 GPA?
  • Did you forget to take the SATs because you were high?
  • Were you expelled from high school for stabbing your chemistry professor in the chest with the business end of a broken graduated cylinder?

No problem, as long as you are eligible for student loans! Art school will take two years and the cost of a townhouse to teach you how to finger-paint! Not like the finger-painting you did in elementary school, oh no. We are talking professional finger-painting. Finger-painting for the corporate world.

My first project for my illustrious art school design class was cutting shapes out of construction paper and adhering them to a canvas with a glue stick. I sat down at my dining room table with my paper cut-outs, a blank sheet of white paper and my glue stick. As I was picking up the glue stick, I thought about my friends at State College writing papers on Globalization or Thermodynamics. Then, it became painfully real to me that I was about to spend the next 20 minutes using a glue stick for my "college" homework. I put the glue stick down and pulled a beer out of the fridge. This seemingly benign event would be a microcosm for the rest of my time in college: arranging things and adhering them into a permanent state is a far too pedestrian task for me. That's what boring normal people do. I'm special. I'm gifted. I better get drunk. I'll arrange permanent things in my life when I'm 40 years old and rich from my career, CEO of Being the Fucking Man Inc.

Bill Dixon on the stairsSo the glue stick masterpiece was never rendered and I promptly dropped the rest of my classes. I was heading back home to attend community college until I figured things out. I had become increasingly frustrated with the fact that buckets of money weren't being bestowed upon me for being so awesome but I wasn't worried because I knew things would flesh out once word got out.

It was my first roll-of-the-dice in the game of life and I had already knocked over the Monopoly board, hurt the ones I loved, and buried the worthless shit that I thought was important in the woods for safekeeping.

Doubles on the next roll, advance to community college, do not collect $200.

C'mon, one more:

Like. You forgot the part though where we told our advisors that I was pregnant and we had to drop out and get married.

Andrei Trostel's picture

Clearly you made the "write" choice since you are about to become a star. Congrats on the column Bill, you deserve it man. Great article.

Bill Dixon's picture

Oh Andrei, you're so punny! That's a pun joke about puns. So that's enough puns to bend the curvature of space-time into a singularity creating a black hole of puns. Am I still typying? I am? Ok, I'll stop now.

i was in that exact situation a few years ago. i live in the philippines and i entered a painting course here. after a few classes, i thought to myself that i can do better than this and that a can study art all by myself without spending too much money and wasting a few good years. and i thought also the same amount of time i can learn more from a different course. i know some people who became successful after art school but most of the others just became stubborn, dumb and lazy.

Bill Dixon's picture

I got news for you Ian, Your friends didn't become lazy, they were lazy to begin with--hence art school in the Philippines.

But seriously, It works for some people, the talented ones. More fucked up news: those talented people would make it without Art School.

Here is a conversation you will never be a part of, "Yeah, 4 years ago, little joey couldn't pick up a paint brush without stabbing himself in the eye. Now he's been asked to primer over the sistine chapel and throw up something more contemporary. He really did become an artist at art school!"

Just doesn't happen.

Regardless, it's a fun place to go to meet emotionally unstable girls and emotionally unavailable boys.

Tiffany Taylor's picture

Can't wait to read more and congrats on the column:)

Bill Dixon's picture

Thanks Tiff, you always give good comment. Now if you could, please change your profile picture to something that doesn't look like it would be found in a lockbox in Pete Townshend's crawl space.

But seriously, thanks!

::nods head vigourously:: I think I took one good class at one of those factory art schools.. Even though they had us performing such such brain bending tasks as blending a circle into a star (about a 5 second task in Illustrator, and yes, that was a full weeks assignment) my stupid self stuck around for 7 classes. The dent in my forehead is from banging it against the wall every time I look at my student loan bill. stupid stupid stupid.

Tiffany Taylor's picture

Haha changed it just for you Bill--thought I'm not sure if it's much better

Bill Dixon's picture

Leap years better! Thanks, Tiff.

Alright, a column! Will be looking forward to your work, sir. Congratulations, and good story.

Mike Lamb's picture

Ah, art school.

Year one=boring shit/screening process/everything you know is wrong
Year two=actually useful lessons/drawing naked chicks
Year three=when you actually start getting better
Year four=they let you do anything you want and it's awesome
Year five=okay now you're just dicking around

I've always been good at drawing, but I honestly couldn't paint for shit until art school. My art:

I'm an art school dropout too.

Not so much that AI was for cowards..more so it was for people whom thought spending 60 grand on a degree would magically make them great animators, game designers, or artists etc. without having any outside practice, self-teaching, or hell..even drive to really want to do so.

I left 6 months ago and to this day I still hear stories about kids whom don't know the difference between "ones" and "twos"-for fuck's sake. -_-

First no non-accredited art school costs that much money. Second, the art schools in Chicago are terrible.