Like many of my peers, I have been fortunate enough to get accepted into University, a good uni, where I will study Fine Art and Film.
I love art, and I love film… so I should be enthusiastic, excited and rearing to go, right?
Well, no. As much as I adore the subject and am extremely grateful to be going to a respected and well-equipped university, I’ve been frantically ruminating on things that go far beyond the expected fresher’s fears. I began worrying less about “What if I don’t get on with my flat mates?” and “How will I deal with being away from the people I know and love?” and began focusing my anxieties on the only thing I was confident that I was going to enjoy; the course.
“What are you bringing to the table?”
Firstly, I finished school 1 year ago and have spent my “gap year” working for a clothes retailer in the town I grew up in. Not only have I not travelled the world or done anything particularly exciting (never mind the money that I haven’t actually saved), I haven’t had the time or facilities to properly practice my art.
Unlike my former self, 1 year ago, I am no longer fresh out of school with the artistic mindset and ambition that I had when I finished my final year of secondary school. I haven’t had someone pushing me to think and focus on a project every day, I haven’t got a studio or art room to explore in my own quiet space or even the tools available for me to try new things. So, my brain keeps going “Everyone’s going to have done work every day and have an established style whereas you don’t. What are you bringing to the table? You’re going to look like such an amateur compared to these people so what’s the point?”
And in addition to this, what am I even going to say when I’m introduced to Sadie, the one that does the murals and Nige, the one that does the pencil sculptures and Hans, the one that does the giant hyper-realistic oil paintings, specifically of beagles on bikes, when I’m asked “So what’s your thing?”
“I was told that I was less likely to get into a good university if I went to a college and got a BTEC, despite the fact that the course was more in depth and taught more about artistic techniques than my A-Level class ever did…”
Secondly, the majority of these students will have done foundation courses or in depth art courses before going to uni and will be much more technically skilled and experienced than I am.
My local town provided me with 2 options; to do an art course in the small welsh college or to do an art A-Level in the school where I already went. I was told that I was less likely to get into a good university if I went to a college and got a BTEC, despite the fact that the course was more in depth and taught more about artistic techniques than my A-Level class ever did, and so I chose to stay in school and study Media, Art and Literature. So now my brain’s going “Oh my god, I don’t even know anything about printmaking, digital design or pottery? The only things available to us in school were pencils, paint and clay- how am I going to show myself as a skilled artist when my skills are so limited?! Everyone’s going to be so well trained and know so much more than you. I’ve only ever made 1 film and it was 3 minutes long. I don’t even have a camera, oh my god.”
“But I’ll spend £9000+ to do this for a degree which doesn’t guarantee me a successful art career.”
And finally, let’s say that my 3-4 years in university are fine and I fly through the motions and somehow leave university with a degree in my back pocket. Will I have made the right decision? Will that have been £9000+ well spent? So many people tell me that you don’t need to go to university to be an artist, much like how a successful musician doesn’t need a degree to get gigs. My hands are tied.
So, I’ll go to uni to get a job in art, and I want to go to university because it will allow me to focus on my art and do it pretty much full time. But I’ll spend £9000+ to do this for a degree which doesn’t guarantee me a successful art career.
Okay then, I won’t go to university then and I’ll just be a full time freelance artist from home. But then I won’t have the financial support that a uni would offer me, I’d have to get a part time job and then I would be unable to do art full time and take it seriously.
Either way, I end up struggling financially and unfocused.
“I’m still not sure what the best path for me to take is, but I firmly believe that you’ll never know unless you try.”
But a career in art is what I desperately want for myself and everyone should have the uni experience, right?
It’s all still a big ongoing argument in my head in which I weigh out pros and cons and try and convince myself to take a different path every day. I’ve been so caught up in my anxiety that I’m slowly chipping away at whatever excitement I may have had about going to University.
I’m still not sure what the best path for me to take is, but I firmly believe that you’ll never know unless you try. I’m also aware that, too often, I allow my anxiety to get the best of me and stop me from achieving my full potential.
If anyone is having any similar experiences or has any advice, do feel free to drop a comment and I too wish you the best of luck in your endeavours.