Art Schools in Georgia: What You Need to Know

By Milan Art Institute on October 13, 2020
Art Schools in Georgia: What You Need to Know

Photo caption: Georgia art schools offer the serious art student training in both traditional and digital media. Photo courtesy of Burst on Pexels.

Art schools in Georgia are plentiful. For the person thinking about becoming a professional artist, this is very good news. 

Maybe you’ve landed on this page, because you’re considering art school and an art career. You wouldn’t be alone. 

Almost every aspiring artist asks him- or herself at least once: Should I go to art school?

Dealing With the Myths About Art Schools in Georgia

To confront this question requires you to confront many of your fears. Well-meaning friends and family repeat the starving artist myth - it is a myth - over and over to you. After a while, you begin to believe it, too.

Aside from this, many would-be art school students face other more general worries. According to US News and World Report, the average college student graduated with over $30,000 in loan debt in 2019. Unfortunately, college costs and college debt usually correlate.

What does this mean in plain English? It means if you go to an expensive school, you’ll probably take out a lot of student loans. 

Aside from this, many know that dreaming of becoming a professional artist is different than becoming one. Would-be professional artists often don’t even know how to start an art career.

In light of these issues, even the best art schools in Georgia face a great deal of scrutiny from potential students these days. 

As they should. 

We believe that blogs about art and art education should be useful as well as encouraging. With that in mind, we’ve put together this guide to help you as you make your decision about which of the Georgia art schools might be right for you.

Well, really, it’s meant to help you regardless of where you want to attend art school. The Milan Art Institute just happens to be located in Georgia, so that’s what we’ll concentrate on. 

Additionally, while much of this seems geared toward the high school student who’s getting ready for college, a lot of the advice applies to anyone who wants to attend art school.

Here are some elements to consider as you go about choosing an art school. 

How to Prepare for Art School in Georgia in High School

High school students who know they want to go on to study art at one of the art colleges or professional art schools in Georgia should concentrate on developing their skills. 

That means learning how to draw with different media, like charcoal, pencils and ink. If they have the opportunity, they should also take classes in design - both 2D and 3D, as well as in oil and acrylic painting. Taking mixed media art classes that include instruction about creating collages is also a good idea.

If students’ schools don’t offer art classes, they still have options. They can take art workshops in Georgia, or they can enroll in an online beginner’s art program

Most high school students who are preparing their art school portfolios spend a great deal of time creating samples for them. (In the next section, we cover what kinds of samples many art schools look for.)

Some art students work with an artist mentor who might suggest that the student look through the catalog of the Georgia art schools they’d like to attend. Doing this allows students to understand the competencies their schools of choice want to see in student portfolios. 

Once these students understand the competencies their art schools of choice expect, they can then create portfolios to match their school’s competency requirements.

Portfolios for Art Schools in Georgia: Do I Need One?

The issue of the art school portfolio is so significant that you can find numerous videos on YouTube and art blogs about it. Most are made by students who got into their art school of choice. 

Many of these vlogs and blogs about art break down what the student did to gain admission into their art school of choice. In other words, they talk about their accepted art school portfolios in detail. 

As you are probably also aware, many if not most art schools require their students to submit a portfolio. Students who can’t submit one or who submit inadequate art school portfolios aren’t admitted to the programs they apply to.

Every art school is different. That said, there are some fairly standard items that most art school admissions officers want to see in a portfolio. 

These include: 

A body of work - between 20 and 30 pieces 

A demonstration of the student’s ability to work in a variety of media

Observation pieces that were drawn or painted from life

Personality of the student 

Clear presentation

Photo caption: Some portfolio samples from some recent Milan Art Institute graduates. 

However, at the Milan Art Institute, we take a different approach to portfolios than other Georgia art schools do. We believe that drawing and painting are skills that students can learn. 

We also believe that the only way to develop these skills - aside from being taught them in class - is to practice those skills. That’s why we suggest that our students spend a lot of time painting and drawing: at least 20 hours a week as students and 40 hours a week as professional artists.

As such, our professional-level program, the Mastery Program offers college-level instruction, but doesn’t require students to submit a portfolio in order to gain admittance to the program. 

The purpose of this one-year program is to teach students how to become a professional artist by the end of the program. Instruction includes art workshop-style lessons to help them to develop the skills to paint and draw. The program also helps students to develop the discipline to do these activities for at least 20 hours a week. 

We actually don’t require students to complete a portfolio until they are ready to graduate from the Mastery Program. The purpose of this end-of-program portfolio is to help our graduates sell their art. 

In light of this, our student portfolios look different than most other art school portfolios. The portfolios may only include abstract acrylic paintings or portraits in oil (for example). 

Because our students have learned to use a variety of media in class and in our art workshops and conferences, we don’t require them to demonstrate proficiency in all media in their portfolios.

By the time MAI students are ready to graduate, they’ll have developed their unique artistic voices, their artist brand and the discipline and time management skills they need to paint 40 hours a week as professional artists. 

Can the Faculty Teach You About Becoming a Professional Artist?

Who would you like to teach you about art? A working professional artist? Or someone who hasn’t spent any time in the trenches, so to speak?

More specifically, when you’re considering which Georgia art schools might teach you what you want to learn, you should ask yourself if the school has faculty members who work in that particular sector of the art world. 

For example, if you’re interested in learning how to draw comics and graphic novels, be sure to check to see at least one of the faculty members has done that kind of work professionally. 

What about if you want to work in digital media design? Or what if you gravitate toward the fine arts and want to be an oil painter? Does your school of choice have someone on staff who does this work?

Professional artists who work at art schools in Georgia are industry insiders, and very often, will only teach art workshops or work as a teaching professional or visiting artist for one semester. 

Video caption: Hsin-Yao Tseng was a visiting artist at the Milan Art Institute. Hsin-Yao Tseng’s art centers around urban landscapes.

That’s okay. If learning how to become a professional artist is your goal, your contact with these artists is invaluable. 

Working professional artists know how to build a clientele list by posting their art on social media or by making relationships with art galleries. If you’re a pop artist and want to sell your art at ComicCon, finding an art mentor at a school who sells art at ComicCon is helpful. 

We embrace this philosophy at Milan Art Institute. All of our class instructors, as well as our art coach mentors, are professional working artists. 

They have learned how to make connections in the art world. Most have an admirable social media following. Most work as fine arts painters. As such, they can teach their students how to do all of these things, too. 

In light of that, it’s wise to check out your art school’s faculty pages. Their bios may include a CV and information about that artist’s website. Some have YouTube channels. 

Some may even teach weekend art workshops near you. If they do, sign up for those workshops if you can afford to.

If you’re going to take a campus tour, you may have an opportunity to meet them then as well. 

Do In-Person Interviews With the Admissions Staff

Additionally, many art schools in Georgia suggest that would-be art students participate in on-campus interviews. These in-person meetings allow school admissions officers to see what kind of person you are. 

Interviews additionally allow school interviewers to ask about your art process and your art education philosophy. Some interviewers may even offer you portfolio advice. As such, it’s important that you’re prepared to talk about the pieces in your portfolio during the interview. 

As we already mentioned, our application process is different. We don’t require students to do interviews. They can sign up for our Beginner Art Program any time, and we accept new students into the Mastery Program four times a year. We also offer online art workshops, which are asynchronous in nature.  

To replace the art school interview, our students become acquainted with us via our social media groups or via our Milan Art Community, our social learning platform. 

As well, students who sign up for the art mentor option of our Mastery Program have an opportunity to work one-on-one with a professional art mentor. Students and mentors communicate via Facebook, as well as monthly in-person Zoom calls. 

This communication allows students to receive feedback on their assignments and to ask questions about art materials. During this time, mentors can also give students tips on how to become a professional artist. 

This advice is based on the artist mentor’s experience and education. All of our mentors have graduated from the Mastery Program, so they are an excellent resource for their students. 

Finally, throughout the year, the Milan Art Institute offers open houses during the holidays, art workshops and art conferences. In the past, we’ve offered art workshops abroad in Europe and around the world. Once it’s safe to travel again, we will offer these programs once more. 

Explore the Facility

When you go to art school, you’ll have a list of art supplies you’ll need to buy. You probably expect that. 

However, it’s reasonable to also expect that your school will provide you with some material support, like art studio space, computer labs, etc. 

The only way to really know if these supports fit your needs is to visit the school and see them for yourself. For example, if you really want to study digital media design, look for a school that has state-of-the-art facilities, as well as industry-standard programs, like those in the Adobe Creative Suite.

Does the Art School in Georgia Have an Online Option?

If you’re used to studying in a brick-and-mortar classroom, moving to an online school environment may require some adjustment. Most traditional high school and college classes are held in what’s called a synchronous format. 

This means that students learn from the professor live and in real time, often in a lecture hall or in a classroom with desks. In this teaching model, students and professors have an opportunity to interact face-to-face. 

However, many online art classes and workshops utilize an asynchronous format. Georgia art schools that adopt asynchronous teaching methods may deliver class content via instructional videos, textbooks, podcasts, online readings and more. 

Social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, allow students and teachers to interact with one another. Other technologies, like Zoom or Skype, give online students an opportunity to ask questions and to further interact. 

Students can send their instructors photos of their finished work for critique. Students may also have to invest in software, like the Adobe Creative Suite, which they can pay for via subscription. (There’s a student version, so students should ask, because it will save them money.)

In light of this, students who take online art classes need to budget for these materials and softwares (in addition to budgeting for any art supplies they need). They also need to have a good sense of internal discipline so that they can get their assignments done on time. 

All of this said, online art classes give students who don’t live here in Georgia the opportunity to earn a degree or a professional certificate from the art school of their choice. 

This means that if there’s an art school you really have your sights set on, but can’t move to Georgia to go to school, you may want to explore your online art school options. 

(In a later blog post, we’ll cover the differences in online versus live instruction in more detail, as well as offering you some tips for studying art online.)

Photo courtesy of Anthony Shkraba on Pexels. 

Does the School Teach What I Want to Learn?

We covered this a little bit when we talked about art school faculty. However, we want to dive a bit deeper into the subject before we move on. 

If you’re going to spend money on art school, then that school should teach you what you want to know. For example, if you want to learn how to draw comics and graphic novels, does the school offer courses in illustration or sequential art? 

What about video game design? If that’s your passion, don’t settle for a school that doesn’t offer a video game design degree (or something similar, like a video game design certificate). The same can be said if you want to illustrate children’s books.

Every art school has the thing it’s known for. At Milan Art Institute, we are known for providing university-level art instruction at a lesser cost, in-depth classical training (including color theory), as well as mixed media instruction. We also provide instruction on how to become a self-employed artist, including providing students with coaching on portfolio and website development.  

Additionally, many schools offer you study abroad opportunities. Some are full semester or full year programs. Others are art workshops abroad: They are shorter in length - maybe 10 days - and often offer intensive instruction.

Whatever their length, these opportunities offer you more than just the opportunity to see great art and to study at some of the finest art schools in the world. Study abroad opportunities to allow you to learn a new language and culture and to make valuable connections in the art world. 

Is There a Competitive Application Process?

Many of the best art schools in the US have a competitive application process. Depending on the art school you apply to, you could be looking at acceptance rates as low as 6%. 

That means out of every 100 students that apply to that school, only six new students are selected for admission for the year. Some art schools are still competitive, but have a higher acceptance rate - up to 70% in some cases. 

If your dream is to study art, this is something you’ll want to consider. Most school advisors tell students to submit applications to their dream schools and also to a few back-up schools that are a sure bet. 

This route usually ensures that aspiring art students find a spot in an art school or in a university program that has an art department, even if it’s not the art school of their choice. 

The other option students have is to enroll in a more trade or apprentice-based program, like our programs. The benefit of these types of programs is that they provide students with professional training to begin a career in art. 

The programs are usually more streamlined and require less time (and money) than many other types of art school programs. 

The goals for these programs are often different, too. Whereas some art schools and university art departments require students to take classes in subjects, like literature and math, certificate programs bypass these requirements. 

Students in these professional training programs (like the Mastery Program) DO get in-depth art training. However, their coursework may also include subjects like instruction on:

How to sell your art locally, on Instagram, on Facebook, on eBay or on Etsy

How much to sell your art for

Tips on how to create websites to sell your art

How to set up an art business

And portfolio development to help boost sales

Some more traditional schools don’t provide students with the training necessary to become professional artists. If your goal is to work as a professional artist, then you’ll want to consider programs that allow you to develop the business and promotion skills necessary to reach that goal. 

Costs and Financial Aid for Georgia Art Schools

At the outset of this article, we mentioned the rising levels of student debt. Some aspiring art students feel reluctant to study art in college, because they’re afraid they won’t get jobs once they graduate. (There’s the myth of the starving artist again.) This makes them reluctant to study art instead of something more “practical.”

However, many art school graduates do find jobs in the field. Many even work as self-employed artists. Additionally, many schools offer excellent financial aid packages that include scholarships, grants and work study opportunities. These types of financial aid don’t require payback. 

That being said, if you have your heart set on one of the more expensive art schools in Georgia, it’s best if you approach your application with a strategy in mind. 

Many art schools, not just the ones in Georgia, have high tuition rates. It isn’t unusual to see art schools with tuition rates of between $38,000 to $52,000 per year. 

In light of this, it’s wise in the months and even years leading up to your art school application (and hopefully, acceptance) that you spend some time looking for scholarships and other “free” monies. 

The other thing you want to consider is how long it takes for most students to graduate from a school. The longer it takes students to get through their degree programs, the more money they’re likely to borrow. This is why you see so many colleges touting a four-years-to-graduate “guarantee.”

There are alternatives to art college, where students get professional-level training in art, without the college debt. 

This is our approach to art education. We take away many of the elements that make art school cost so much. First, the tuition for our Mastery Program is $2400 for the year, which is a great deal less than the tuition for other art schools. 

Second, our program is a one-year intensive program. The one-year time frame reduces the amount you have to pay simply because you’re not in school for four years.

It’s additionally designed to capitalize on synergy. That is to say, our lessons build on each other. For example, you’ll see a version of what you learned in your drawing class in your painting class. 

That way, the program continually reinforces what you’ve learned. This allows you to make connections between concepts. Because concepts are continually reinforced, you don’t require as many years of instruction to learn how to paint or draw well.

Finally, the last part of our program deals specifically with teaching you how to become a professional artist. It addresses portfolio and business development. By the time you’re finished with the program, you’re ready to start working as a self-employed artist. This aspect of the program is especially appealing to people who already have a degree and are looking to change careers. 

Naturally, some students feel that they may want to get a college degree. That’s okay. 

However, we do feel it’s beneficial for them to know all of their options before they decide on an art school in Georgia. That’s the best way for students to decide which school is right for them.

More Blogs About Art & Becoming a Professional Artist

8 Practical Tips on How to Sell Your Art

The Top 5 Personal Development Books for Artists

3 Simple Steps for How to Get Your Art in a Gallery

Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

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