Sir Ken Robinson once stated in a TedTALK in 2006 that the fear of being wrong will stop us from being creative, that kids will take a chance as they are not frightened at being wrong. However, as adults, we have stigmatized mistakes; they are the worst thing you can do at your job, or in your life. Sir Robinson goes on to state that we are educating people out of their creativity and, to this statement, I could not agree more.
I spent seven years of my life studying art in two reputable Canadian universities, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the best paints, canvas, gesso, the best brushes and charcoal and drawing paper, you name it. I had all the finest material one could afford on student loans and I was ready to unleash my creative juices.
It did not happen. The pressure of school and succeeding in your classes, by this I mean pleasing your professors or tricking them into liking your work, all play an important role in how, and most importantly, WHAT you create. Not only do these factor into your art, but it stresses you out (or at least it stressed me out) quite a bit, resulting in something you are not necessarily proud of or created half-assed to ensure you met the due date (when you know you could have done better if more time was allotted).
I am not saying that all professors are cynical of their students' work, but, like many artists, they appreciate a certain aesthetic as opposed to others, and if your art falls under their visual standards, well, shit about your luck! This sort of “having to please my prof” relationship is not only tiresome, but greatly affects the mental state of any artist. You are always caught in this catch-22 whirlwind where, if you create something phenomenal, but it does not meet the assignment's requirements, you know you will fail. However, if you create something that does meet all the criteria, but is so far from your own personal style, you question whether or not you even made that…that is not a healthy alternative, either.
Hence, creating art, writing an art history opinion piece, or doing anything that is remotely creative with a curriculum and a professor constantly hanging above your head, is bound to instill fear of failing. With this fear, you end up pushing your creativity aside in hopes to please whoever you are painting, writing, or creating for. University education, in a way, quiets your creativity as the pressure to succeed takes over. I would also add that, in art history, when one is writing about a painting or sculpture or any art object, for that matter, there is always a fear that your interpretation will be wrong. However, who is to judge whose interpretation is right or wrong? I have completed a Masters in Art History as well. I know from experience that my work was based on what professors would like and what would ultimately get me the best grade, as opposed to writing about things I truly liked. For example: my thesis. It was a disaster. The end product had been altered into what my supervisor ultimately thought was best, which eventually led me to resent getting my Masters AND, worst of all, spending $25,000 on education that wasn’t worth it.
What I’m trying to say is that, if you are a creative, the academic world is perhaps not your best option. Sure, you will learn great things, but your creativity might also suffer at the hands of the business (university). Be careful, think wisely about your school and career paths, and do not let a professor tear your creativity apart. Even if they do not see eye to eye on what you have produced, it definitely does not mean it’s not good. Don’t let the bastards get you down.