I wrote this for the blog last year, but have decided to repost it because I think it is very important.
I was one of these people myself, and was amazed to discover the extent of my own potential as a fine artist,
One of the things we have always felt strongly about at Max the Mutt is that the opportunity to develop skills ought to be available to everyone who has character, drive, and potential.
I recently was told that there are people who do not apply to Max the Mutt because they don’t think their skills are good enough. That’s a mistake.
The fact that most secondary school school art programs no longer seem to teach fundamentals became evident to us years ago! Our solution was to include a year one program in every diploma that has been carefully planned to teach what we term “Visual Arts Literacy.” The understanding and basic skills we teach can make the difference between a successful career or hitting a wall. Yes, you will need more than this. You’ll need a real interest in the field you’re studying for, curiosity, a willingness to work outside your comfort zone and attack the things that don’t come easily to you. You’ll need to develop grit and character.
I just spoke this morning to a young man with a bachelor’s degree in illustration from a major school. He has a whimsical imagination, a lovely line, but no real understanding of the nitty gritty basics: how do we create a 3D illusion on a 2D surface? What is tonal pattern? How does one use it and why does it contribute to illusion? What can I do if I want to create shallow space? Deep space? What if I want everything to appear flat? It seems rather incredible that people are receiving degrees who have never been educated about the basics of their trade! How will they make a living?
At Max the Mutt, we will not accept you unless your interview and portfolio convince us that if you work hard and we work hard, you have what it takes, but if we feel that together we can get there, we will give you that opportunity. In addition, we will help you to continue to develop your skills throughout your education with us.
For ANIMATION, in addition to drawing, we need to assess your passion to act through a character, your interest in storytelling, your willingness to take responsibility for your growth as an animation artist.
For ILLUSTRATION FOR SEQUENTIAL ARTS:COMIC BOOKS & GRAPHIC NOVELS we need to assess the degree of interest and passion you have for sequential story telling, your visual storytelling instincts and sense of page layout.
For CONCEPT ART, we need applicants with a deep interest in traditional fine art, who have some experience painting, and have been trying their best to develop basic drawing and painting skills. We also need to see the degree of interest you have in creating environments, characters and props from your imagination.
However, it is important for all of us to remember that we have many graduates who are having very successful careers right now who would not have been given the opportunity in a school without our philosophy and commitment to education!
Max the Mutt is a tough school with a difficult curriculum, but if you have the passion, the grit to stick with it and deal with the inevitable failures we all face and come back to try again, we may be the right school for you.
You have nothing to lose by giving it a try! If you aren’t accepted, you’ll get good advice and suggestions about what to work on, and you can always try again. If you are accepted, you can trust us that we think you can do it.
In cases where we aren’t sure, and the applicant has the passion and is begging for the chance, if we have room we sometimes do give someone a chance, but only with their full understanding that this may be a long shot.
It is the absolute truth that sometimes people we really think are outstanding, for whatever reasons, do not develop and people who start with less skill, the long shots, grow and grow and absolutely astound us with their work.
One things is for sure: art with quality is very hard work and demands dedication. Perhaps that is what talent is: an enormous interest and passion that drives someone to want to immerse him/herself in the work. We do get good at what we spend time at and spend time thinking about….perhaps the passion is the most important quality of all.
Life is too short to let fear stop you. You need to have the courage to try.”
All the best,
Maxine Schacker, Director