Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Product of Art School

I've been doing Cracked Designs for almost 4 years full time (5 years total), and a lot of times I get caught up in my little world of bacon cutouts and beer bottle drawings, that I forget how this all started: Art School *shudder*

I was recently meeting with a client and she asked me where I went to school, and I kind of paused before I said MIAD & SAIC. I've been out of college for almost 7 years now (which feels surreal), but my time at art school seems like something out of a dream, something that never really happened. So, I dusted off my old portfolios and reminisced, and it got me thinking about my art school days and some new realizations...

I was a fresh faced 18 year old movin' on up to the big city (Chicago) to pursue my dreams of becoming a painter.  Going to art school was my dream come true, all I wanted was to paint and create and express myself through fine art. Ah, my naivety makes me laugh out loud now, to think, I thought I could make a real living off of painting! If only. Well, as you have probably gathered from this blog, and this post in particular, I am quite awkward and never felt as if I really fit in in the whole art school scene. I quickly gathered that I was too normal at SAIC, which much to my surprise was a bad thing. I attended SAIC for two years before transferring to MIAD for my last two years. Now, MIAD was a little more my speed, but alas, I had missed those first 2 crucial years at MIAD where everyone was making friends. Now, here I was, the weird transfer student trying to break in and start all over again. I still shudder thinking about those early days.

( Two photographs which were part of my Senior Thesis at MIAD, "Shedding Some Light" )

My early dreams of going to art school started slowly turning into nightmares, and I would often curse the whole idea of art school and could not wait for it to all be over. I hated being that odd girl out, and constantly trying to connect with someone, anyone! The desire to create that I had once longed for, started turning into work, and I hated being forced into making something spectacular, especially if I was feeling that lack of inspiration.  It wasn't all bad though, I loved painting and photographing and being able to (and being encouraged to) be creative. During my last semester at MIAD, I started to question everything and had that typical senior freak out moment of "Holy crap, what am I going to do now?! Damn you art school, my parents were right!" I suddenly realized that I didn't feel prepared for the real world, and my dreams of a being a starving artist were not satisfying anymore like they once were. My then boyfriend (and now husband) was about to graduate from UW Madison at the same time as me and he had a nice little job all lined up for him. I secretly hated his guts during this time, and envied his together-ness. But, somehow I survived, and worked odd jobs after graduation. Some art related, some not. I wasn't too happy with my situation, and I continued to curse my art school experience. I felt like my time at two expensive art schools were a disaster, and now all I was left with was a giant student loan. Then, all of a sudden one day, I created a silly little card. That card caught on, and well, the rest is Cracked Designs history.

  (Two photographs done during my last semester at MIAD)

Despite my loneliness & confusion during my art school days, I'm no longer bitter about art school, and in fact, I embrace it. Although, I don't have a career in photography (which was my major), I could not be happier with the career I do have, and if it weren't for struggling through art school, I may never have discovered Cracked Designs in myself. Being able to be creative everyday for 4 years at art school prepared me for a lifetime of creativity. I no longer dream about painting ( I sadly haven't picked up a paintbrush in 7 years) and being a starving artist, I have new dreams, dreams about continuing to be a successful business owner, and these dreams are far more exciting to me because I know that they're real. But those early dreams of being an artist make me smile, because in reality all I had ever wanted was to be able to make awesome works of art all day long, and now I realize that I actually do just that. And that my friends, made art school totally worth it.

(The top images are my school U-pass and a photo of me - terrified & young during my first semester at SAIC in Chicago)

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