California College of the Arts
California College of the Arts - Comments and Student Experiences|
The program sets you up with deadlines and small projects, and than in the end they throw a curve ball at you, called Thesis. In Thesis, you have to come up with your own project, even though nothing before this has prepared you for this kind of class. Talk about intimidating, you sit in front of a huge staff of graphic designers and they tell you how your work stinks if you aren't one of their beloved favorites!
On the more positive side, I would say that the faculty are very knowledgeable and even though they may not express their want for their students to do well, they try, but are elitist and too focused on how you do your work rather than what you produce.This is not the program to be in if you are not 100% sure you want to do graphic design. The teachers really have little if no respect for many of the students, but the students certainly produce beautiful work. What I liked about CCA was the great challenge and its conceptual nature. What I didn't like about it was its elitism, favoritism, and pretentiousness. Every idea should be given a fair chance. Design shouldn't be elitist!
I have loved my time at CCA, there's good and bad everywhere right? and just like in real life, the real world, it's up to you and only you to make your dreams come true!
You gotta be your own squeaky wheel to get that sweet sweet grease you need to fly! The administration is not very organized, but if you talk to them with gratitude and respect, you'll find there are many sweethearts that will help you. You gotta do your own homework, on all accounts! With faculty, ask around, I have heard about mind-numbingly dull teachers, and jerks that give no constructive criticism just cruel stupidity. . . ask around and get out of a class, whatever it may be if you don't feel stimulated or worse, defeated. The teacher's who are that way, show their true colors pretty quick. So you gotta be even faster in deciding what's right for you. There are AMAZING faculty, I have befriended all across the disciplines, and in the humanities too. Many have not even, or only been my assigned teachers, but have become my mentors, heros, true friends, drinking buddies too! Ha ha! (I'm legal!) There are absolute treasures of souls all over the place, that will change your life, and influence your art to heights you never imagined. It's up to you to make the most of it, and also participate in class. It's awful when everyone is "too cool" or maybe just too tired to talk in class. Participate! It's your education dammit!
My biggest problem, which has resulted in goofball insomnia, is dreaming beyond the tiny deadlines for projects, and driving myself bonkers trying to give my 150% for a handful of worthy and awesome classes. Try finding parallels that you can combine assignments, it's not like turning in the same essay for two classes. But devoting your energy to one solid multi-faceted art piece, that you can get different perspectives on and more than one grade on. That saves my life!!!
I think my biggest gem of advice is to shop around the majors, why do just the one thing your obviously already good at, coming into the door? Why not explore everything in your heart's desire and then narrow it down, (when they make you, ha ha!) ? They make it more of a hassle, because it's just more paper work for them, but I full-heartily endorse the Individualized Major, basically creating your own major, it rocks!!! Revolutionize, evolutionize! If I had to say my focus in a phrase, it would be Boo kArts, I got into CCA as a photo major, uhhh yuck, hell no, i knew it first semester in, I probably would have drown myself or someone else with darkroom chemicals, if I had stuck it out! Very technical totalitarian, not supportive of crappy quality negatives but awesome photos, what's more important, truly? Very expensive major and everyone can take photos, why oh why limit your self??? I have taken painting, ceramics, textiles, book binding, writing. . .classes called Drawing Without Drawing (James Gobel-awesome!) and one with the visionary hero, absolute hero of CCA(C), Barron Storey and his Visual Journalism class. Anyone interested in creating anything of a pictorial, narrative fashion, you will thank yer blessed mind blown stars, by taking at least his Illustration 1 class. He is as much a genius as sweetheart, and share's all his magic spells' recipes, how to techniques, gold, my friend's GOLD! And while Illustration and Graphic Design are some of the most popular majors cuz it gives you the fine arts with the professional banner of you having a better chance in getting a "real job" out of school. . . Guess what? Most everyone's work looks the same. Is that gonna help you in the competitive ass job market??? Hell no. Whatever you do, make it your own and grow from your own soul and what they can teach you to blossom professionally and artistically. For all these reasons, I again endorse the Individualized major, doing your own thing, whatever percentage you actually stray from one particular major, will profoundly change you. interacting with a much larger range of students, faculty. . . of course gives you more of a diverse edge in your own personal growth and networking circle of friends. I have seen it time and again, I think they call it evolution!
I LOVED it. The school is small, the faculty attentive, the darkroom plush and well maintained. Even as a transfer I had room to take a few classes outside of my major. The kids who do well in art school are the same kids who'd do well anywhere - it's just as challenging as any other program, just in a different way. The "formula" for doing well doesn't work - you have to be self-directed, communicative, AND produce good work. There's no "just" doing the assignments. I had professors who'd worked under Ansel Adams, Noam Chomsky, and who belong to Magnum... I had one professor I really disliked, and they only lasted one semester as many students complained (and the dpt. listened!). I didn't get along with my dpt. advisor, which is a shame as there wasn't really an alternative I could go to w/o chaning my major.
There are *some* trust fund 18 yr olds, but they don't seem to last. Most of the people in my class were studious, hardworking, and a number were older or second degree students. There wasn't much "partying" because everyone was working or studying! I can't speak for other departments, but photography, graphic design, architecture etc... have reputations for being a bit more straight-laced. That said, you are in SF! and the whole city is there as a resource - great place, though a bit pricey. There are few traditional extracurriculars, but lots of kids are involved in non-profit or grass-roots/community art projects; I also studied abroad over the summer, which was excellent (year-long exchanges are available too).
I had trouble with financial aid off and on - I got enough funding, but the occasional administrative error (not always CCA's fault either - some govt./bank errors and typos) led to some stickiness. Be assertive, and stay on top of things!
I have never had trouble finding employment - and though it's not been "in my field", that's also been my choice. I currently work in finance (of all things!) and am using that to fund my work. I know several people who graduated at the time I did who ARE employed as artists, designers, etc...
The campus is urban, but I liked it - the Oakland campus is a hodge-podge of odd looking buildings (beautiful library!) surrounded by park-like redwoods and a cute neighborhood; the SF campus is in a beautifully rennovated, light-filled warehouse. Both campuses could use more parking. I skipped the dorms and lived in share-houses, usually with UC Berkeley students, which worked quite well and allowed a safer neighborhood than downtown Oakland!Keep in mind... it's one thing to get handed a graded paper or test that you can quietly fold and put in your bag. While there are a fair amount of tests/papers, you will have critiques for studio classes: you will stand up in front of the whole class while they tell you what you deserve + why and everyone will know if you did your work/homework/research or not!!!
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