I definitely enjoyed my time at RISD—art school is a highly individualized experience, so I’m not one to extol its praises across the board, especially because there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the right school for you, or choosing whether or not to attend school at all. As far as my own experiences, however, I found RISD really personally helpful for 1. a whole lot of rigorous fundamental training, 2. the illustration department community, and 3. giving me the right set of tools and guidance to then just…do my own thing, if that makes sense. Post-foundation year, I was really struggling for a while because I felt like there was a standard of “art school illustration” that I needed to be, but continually could not do correctly. I constantly denied myself the fun of drawing the things I really wanted to because I felt like it wouldn’t get me anywhere, and suffered personally and artistically as a result. When I finally realized I had to make what I wanted to be making, my body of work really started to shine, and I was able to make the most of my time with the professors there, too. My experience with the illustration faculty—especially after being settled into the department after a while and really getting to know everybody—is that most of them are really enthusiastic about helping you pursue YOUR personal vision, which was great!
One thing I must note is that it’s an environment in which if you really want to hone a technical craft (e.g.—“I really want to learn the ins and outs of Maya!” ”I want to know everything about digital painting!”), you have to be pretty self-motivated. It’s somewhat of a contradiction, since foundation year (and sophomore year within the illustration department, to an extent) were heavily about learning the basics from the ground up, but the illustration department’s courses tend to be focused around a wide variety of conceptual curricula—like, more classes in the vein of “this is a course where we illustrate magazine covers”, (or anything else you could think of), and fewer in the sense of “this is a course where you’re going to learn EVERYTHING about how to use oil pastels”, or whatever. Which can be great!—I think it really helped me to synthesize a lot of stuff I never would have even thought about otherwise into what I do, haha—but the drawback is that there tends to be a wide variety of subjects with only one course for each, instead of really specialized options like “Advanced digital painting 1, 2, and 3” where you get into the really technical stuff.
I hope that helps! Also, I can really only talk about my experiences primarily as an illustration major, but if you’re interested in other majors, I can try to direct you to the right people, haha.
Good luck out there, friend!#anonymous #replies