I paid a grand for art school and I still can’t draw
I thought it might help me to get a job
Inspired by the current fad for adult colouring-in, I enrolled in a £1000, month-long art course in central London last summer.
I wanted to appear “creative” to future employers, as well as improve my drawing and painting skills.
And I was excited. Mum bought me an edgy pair of dungarees and a scrunchie, I spent literally hundreds of pounds on new art materials, and I moved from my home in Birmingham to North London in anticipation of returning there as a decent pretender to Warhol’s crown. I’d always regretted dropping art before my GCSEs, and saw this an opportunity to show everyone that I really could be an artist.
I spent the majority of my student loan at CASS in Soho and turned up to the studio at 8.45am on Monday morning with a massive portfolio, two dozen pots of ink and a collection of pencils.
I was out of my depth.
Others on the course had serious ambitions to study fine art, fashion and architecture. Excursions to exhibitions across London involved pretty intense sketching sessions in front of the general public. I just was not prepared for the life drawing classes.
Having completed two years of my History and Spanish degree, I was aiming for a chilled out month – drawing some birds, maybe, possibly imitating a nice Monet lily pond. I did not anticipate the intense, silent, three hour pencil sketching sessions and the four days of learning about space.
One morning I took my iPod and headphones out of my bag and put them on the table. The next thing I knew, an overexcited tutor was screaming at me. “Do not touch anything! That is absolutely beautiful. Photograph it and we’ll put it in your portfolio”.
Sure, the tuition offered throughout the month was great, and many students have gone on to be offered places at some of the best art institutions in Europe. But me? I didn’t progress. I began being able to draw a semi-decent pig, and I left still drawing that same pig.
Friends and family expected me to return as a pro-sketcher. It was, therefore, rather awkward showing off my “skills”. All that overpriced 2B lead pencil kit has delivered me is too many drawings of my dogs and a few rabbits.
I still enjoy art, and dabble with it from time to time, but after an expensive £1500 I have learnt that it is an innate talent, and and a four-week crash course is not a shortcut to a career as a YBA. Or any kind of career in the art world.