Tag Archives: Art School

Cause Art is for All Our Sakes

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Illustration and Cover by Cara Garcia

Just a couple of days ago, I was trying to be a little more reflective on my life. I mean, I was really trying to get a sense of a lot of things, trying to mimic Sherlock Holmes’ Mind Palace to see how the world has affected me so far. The conclusion was not really entirely  that complicated but there was a thing or two that captivated my mind as of the moment. And one of them was art.

Artists of all sorts have a lot of power wielded on to them. I was in an art course in UST after all, and I loved every single second of it. I love the complicated art theories of the Bauhaus movement, the hands-on craft, the caffeinated-sleepless nights, the high pressure critiques of professors, and the long quest of finding inspiration. I love that at the end of the day, my grades are based on what I enjoy doing the most. Art school was one of the best choices I’ve made in my life, and probably the most complicated one also. The most obvious downside is paying thousands of pesos every year to make room for different kinds of materials for art projects and plates, sleep deprivation and the practical concern about the utility of a college graduate with a degree in BFA. But there are also not-so-complicated ones. While my non-art friends were simply saving the world with their encrypted codes, calculating numbers, combining covalent bonds, I was being trained and graded on things like “wrong typefaces, bigger logos, and appropriate color combinations”. They’re doing crucial work, to which we should all applaud, while I, I am doing this “following my heart” thing for four years.

To be honest, art is not really a trivial thing to devote four years (even my whole life) to. I’ve spent four years –  and even more years or so after – thinking about what kind of craft am I going to devote myself on and learning to “grow” my critical brain. The kind of “growth” that I am referring to is trying to assess something like specific typefaces or learning all sorts of art movement from the 15th century to 21st. Asking, “Why? Why is it that?” or “Why did you represent that with that?” always gives me the nerves. The kind of “growth” that questions everything to gain knowledge about the world to make your resulting work more critical, more informed, and more interesting. Even though I don’t really have that “let’s take it to the streets” bone in my body, I know, that because of my art education, that I have the power. Well technically, superpowers that I’d like to share with you. And please take note that this is not only for art-school students or artistic people of all sorts. It’s for those who have a creative bone in their body who has been doubting themselves for a long time. The visual people are always welcome.

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ART POWER #1 : MEDIA IS YOUR MOST POWERFUL TOOL.

How many of us have blogs, magazines, and all sorts of art practices within our reach? Most of us do, and that’s why you are reading this blog post right now. Most media are tools for communicating with people. To change the way you think. Artists, like us, would want to change the way how the world see themselves, and that’s technically not a bad thing. Nowadays, mainstream media is the boss. And a lot of us spend a lot of time talking about how inadequate some of these are, but do we actually do something about it? Most of us, yes. We post things on Instagram, Facebook, or creating memes in 9gag and Tumblr because we know we have the power to do a lot about it. We can make our own media because our crazy mind just transports us somewhere into this paradigm! The paradigm to change the way people think, do and feel. And we have to keep it going!

ART POWER#2  : PEOPLE WHO DO LISTEN, ARE  ACTUALLY ENTERTAINED.

People like to be entertained. I spend hours and hours of my free time scrolling through numerous GIFs on Tumblr, clicking random cat videos on YouTube, flipping through numerous magazines, and watching non-stop interviews from The Ellen Show or Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. These things are engaging because technically, its fun! And people, most of the time, like fun. It is the easiest way to get people to pay attention, and that’s why the entertainment business is always booming with pop culture. There are perfect examples like Discovery Channel’s  Myth Busters became a part of this mainstream hit because they make something that seems so utterly complicated in real life to something that is actually fun and endearing to watch. In other words, these types or formats of entertainment are powers.

It is also safe to say that entertaining people is not always the way to go. Please! Artists, let us not all be sucked up into popular culture and mass media is not the only way to go about your work, artistically. There are some topics to which its is complicated, obscure and too inexpressible to be placed on standard mainstream format. The way I see it, experimenting and challenging your work is what drives innovation. To which most art students, like me, are sick of hearing, but this is what keeps art so relevant, so pure, so flexible and so fascinating. We, as artists, have this “You are about to create something out of nothing” mantra, that reminds us that art is something that provides even more possibilities that you can’t even imagine.

ART POWER #3: JUST LIKE LOVE, IMAGES AND WORDS DO MAKE OUR WORLD GO ROUND.

By ratio, 8 or 9 out of 10 people are smart. But we’re easily affected by images of the world around us. Yes, you! Even me! And technically everyone! You know that the world of entertainment deals with girls being stick thin, fair skinned, pointed nose and small chin. That’s the entertainment business! And its unrealistic we all know that, but we resort to it as if we should all look like that cover girl in the magazines. Even if you know that it is someway manipulated via Photoshop by people who are like me, people can implant this so-called “be perfect” to their stubborn brains and its really not healthy at all! But, this idea works the other way around too. Images that are positive can be very influential on how the mind works as well.

I’ll take for example a personal experience of mine. When I was in high school, I never understood why girls were bringing themselves down. I mean I understood why sometimes my mom feels very unconfident with her body, when I personally think, she is the most beautiful woman in the world. I, had tons of self-confidence with how my body looks. But girls who were my age were beginning to put make-up on their faces, dieting of all sorts, and I didn’t understand why.

Came college where I had different sets of friends, different sets of people, and most of them were more or less body conscious. Because of this constant exposure to this negativity with their bodies, I was beginning to look at my body differently. There were times when I wished I had longer legs, or my abdomen area were a little less flabby. I didn’t appreciate how I looked, and subsequently, it’s beginning to take toll on my relationship. I guess, I wanted to look like, that same girl in the magazines.  And then I discovered Mika, and Dita Von Teese. Mika’s Big Girls (You Are Beautiful) way back 2009 was my anthem. I was fangirling to the highest level and I realized I didn’t feel that way anymore. Without even consciously clocking it, I was beating to my own anthem. I didn’t feel very body conscious anymore. I worked with what I got. I began to look at hundreds of images of gorgeous, culturally dominant women like Beyonce. This may seem trite, but I think girls understand what I’m saying. This kind of small change creates ripples that radiate out bigger and bigger into your life. If the art in my life can change how I see myself, well then, better watch out society! Art may soon change how people see people of different color, queer people, poor people, and women, and of the earth! Life is just a big space filled with small moments, each of which is and can be remarkably influential.

So, if you are a maker of pictures, please use it for the good. We may all use different approaches such as through speeches, written language, or education. We’ll basically be shaking this shit up! While some of us, we’ll be doing art and that’s okay!

People need to hear voices of all sorts of people that’s why people like me, do art or do written articles like this! We write memoirs, draw portraits, we tell OUR stories that can connect strongly with people to make them understand the world better. I used to think, who would even want to hear what I have to say? Maybe I thought it was very self-indulgent, and very narcissistic – basically I thought it was bad. But the truth is, people love to hear stories and people want to be involved in some way. Art is particularly good at forging human connection. And the world needs more of them.

Continue reading Cause Art is for All Our Sakes

The 10 Things I Learned in College

Hey Guys!

I know that a lot of you are already spending quality time during your semestral break. Most of you, if not in the Philippines, are already in college or are going to college. Whether you are going to a university, a college at your local town or what have you, I thought I would like to share with you the ten things I learned in college-slash-art school.

To be more precise, I graduated last March as Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts and Design major in Advertising Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, the oldest university in Asia. I was a university scholar for four consecutive years in the university which means that I have to maintain a grade of 1.75 to maintain my scholarship. You can learn more about why I chose Fine Arts in the post here.  So with that being said, let’s get on with it!

1. In college, you’ll meet people who are exactly like you.

To be honest, during grade school and high school I knew that I never fit in with other people. I felt very restricted on the way I acted and there’s something about conformity and the struggle to always “fit in” with the crowd that made me over think on the way I acted with people. In high school, it took me two years to find the right people to fit in to. In college, although I cheated a little bit because I already knew a friend of mine who is on the same class as I am, you’ll be able to find people who are as weird as you are, who have the same perspective as you do, who likes the same musical tastes as you do. It’s like looking at yourself in the mirror sans the physical attributes. When I was in college, I can transfer to any clique or group of friends and not feel awkward with any situation. I know that there will always be something to talk about and not feel hesitant just being the way I am and the way I acted.

2. Don’t be scared to sit in the front.

It makes it less tempting to goof off or talk to your friends because the professor is just standing right in front of you. It forces you to listen to the lecture and absorb everything you need for the class.

3. Turn your complaints into productive questions.

We all have that class with that crappy professor who is completely incompetent. And sure it feels good to vent it out with your friends when classes are done but it is totally time-consuming and very unproductive if you are not doing anything with that frustration. If you have questions, write it down and make sure to ask the professor what you don’t understand. If you feel too scared to ask your professor, get the next best thing, go to your classmate who seems to understand and absorb your professor’s lecture and ask him or her. Sometimes when I feel confused during math subjects, I tend to go over the professor and just ask him what I did wrong and he will explain to me what should be the right steps in order for me to get the answers right. Remember, your professors are human beings so they can’t read your mind so you have to ask questions.

4. Write. Write. Write.

Write in your book, your notebook whenever there are academic lectures. I know that in a university, there are some subjects that require you to acquire a certain book which sometimes can be costly, and pretty much an investment. But what’s the point of paying 200 – 300 pesos (sometimes even Php 1,000+) for that book and getting a failing mark at the exam? So what works for me is I try as much as I can to read the things to be read, highlight them, and write the congested idea at the book itself. Even if these are just small bullet points on what happened at a specific paragraph, these little notes that you write will help you remember what you’ve read without copying word for word what is written in the book. In the end it will help you remember more, and your professor will appreciate your own thoughts on the topic. It took me a while to use this formula, but after doing this my reading comprehension just shot up to the roof, and my grades at academic courses improved by a mile comparing them to my grades during high school and grade school wherein I try to memorize every line.

5. Work well with time to get your inspiration.

When you go to art school, you are expected to produce artworks for 4-5 different art classes per week. And although its very nice to just go to the internet and look for “inspiration” at Tumblr, ComputerArtsUK, CreativeBloq and what have you. But because they are readily available for you to see, there are times wherein you tend to copy these certain artworks and the manner that they’ve been presented to you. What works for me in looking for inspiration is like this. Every weekend, which is the only time you’ll actually have to go look for inspiration, I go to Fully Booked (the most magical place on Earth) or any bookstore or art gallery that is free for public viewing. I try to give myself 30 minutes to an hour to grab as much creative influences from books, to art, to literature, to even plain CD Covers or Book Covers and just let it all sink in and be inspired by the way it looks and how it is treated. After one hour, I don’t buy anything. I don’t buy the book or the cd that I looked at I just walk away. Now when the week kicks in, and the professor now assigns a specific problem for us to work at, this is where the inspiration kicks in. What I do is I try to infuse 3 of my own ideas to 1 of the ideas I saw at the bookstore and what I will get is an original kick-ass piece.

5A. Make to-do lists:

So let’s say the professor told me to create a 4 piece artwork to be done on a 9×12 illustration board all with different painting styles, creative influences and what have you to be passed on two weeks time and in poster color. How am I gonna do this? One day, I’ll assign myself to look for inspiration and just try to sketch a specific artwork that I’ll be doing for that 4 piece artwork. Then the next day, I’ll be sketching it up on each illustration board. Then the coming days, I’ll be painting about 20% for each illustration. I find it much more fun if there is diversity in what I do rather than working on one specific piece. Even though I know that I’m working part by part on each artwork, I feel like I am accomplishing something because I don’t have an excuse saying “Oh, I wasn’t able to work on this one.” but instead, “Oh I’ve finished about 65% on each art board” which is a much more positive outlook and makes me work hard in finishing it even more.

6. Go to class.

I know  it feels nice to just stay in your warm bed all day and not do anything because some project kept you up all night. Just go to class. What fueled me to get out of bed was knowing that I was paying thousands of pesos to learn something.

7. Never compare your work with others.

Although you are friends with your classmates and you totally support them in whatever they are doing, try not to compare your own artwork with theirs just because their artwork looks cool, or real. Chances are you’ll feel very down about your own work and not feel proud of it. To be honest, when I started college, I was envious of the work of others because theirs look so much cooler on paper when its drawn and all the colors are placed. But then I realized that their style is actually different from mine. As much as I appreciate cool graphics and graffiti designs, I work well with realism and large contrasts of foreground to background. And when I was able to get my own signature art style, people started appreciating my own work. I think what is important to note here is to love what you do and what kind of art you like to share with the world.

8. Know what environment works best for you.

In my room there’s a certain space where all I have to do is work on my art project. My 42″x48″ drafting table that was a hand-me-down from my mom was miles (okay that was an exaggeration. It was a few feet) apart from my laptop away from the temptations of the internet. I know that when I am near my laptop, all I would be doing was scrolling over Tumblr or going over some videos in YouTube which was a tad bit unproductive and very time-consuming. So, get your own space away from all the distractions that you know will tempt you in the first place and avoid them as much as you can. In reality, its also okay to take breaks once in a while. Like for every three hours I spend doing that artwork for a class, I treat myself to 20 minutes scrolling the net, or checking out what my friends are up to in the moment.

9. Your grades does not define you as a person.

I know I shouldn’t be the right spokesperson for this specific bullet point because of the thing that I was telling you about maintaining a 1.75 GWA, but here’s what I’ve learned after four years. Growing up, grades felt like a huge reflection of my own self-worth. And if I had bad grades then I would see myself as a bad person. And that’s definitely not the case. It was probably because I was raised with the constant impression to do well at school and if I didn’t I would feel really shitty (excuse the language) about myself. I was really, really hard on myself to get good grades and that pressure actually crippled me from getting the grades that I wanted. This lesson hit me when I was a senior year in college, and that was when all of my grades just shot up. And I just didn’t give a f**k. I went to class because I actually wanted to learn something as opposed to remembering what the professor said and what will be on the exams. I was a lot less anxious and I was actually happy to go to class. And that’s when I started really, really absorbing information and just participating in class. I was a lot less anxious and so much happier when I finally decided to let go.

10. You are gonna grow up.

You are gonna learn a lot in college, about the world, about other people, about yourself. And you’re probably gonna hit the lowest of your lows in college and you’re gonna bawl your eyes out but, you’re also gonna have a blast! It’s a trade off, and it’s totally worth it. And it doesn’t matter where you get accepted to, where you got rejected. Because college is what you make it. You can go to a top university and learn nothing as opposed to going to your local college and learning a whole lot about yourself and the world around you.

Know that every college experience is different. Some of these tips may not help you, or some of them are common sense. But, for a lot of people, common sense isn’t really very common. And these tips, I had no idea when I started college so I wish someone told me this when I was just starting.

If you have other college questions make sure to write them below, or you can tweet me at @iamcaragarcia. You can also follow me, if you’d like. And if not, that’s totally cool. My instagram username is also iamcaragarcia.

Until next post! Bye!

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Cover Photo : Charmaine Joie Villanueva

Other Photos : Facebook Friends of Mine