Private Art Schools vs Public Universities Part 2

June 10, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

So what about Public Universities and what exactly do they offer?

Public Universities:

In contrast, public Universities that offer design curriculums will give you a well rounded education.  You study many different subjects but from the artistic skill perspective, you do not benefit from the intense drawing curriculum that is only well known to the private art schools.  The Universities actually teach you to be fairly flexible in your skill sets.  You’ll learn communication, sciences, history, mathematics, social sciences, arts, and many others.  In contrast to private schools,  all the extra classes needed for you to increase your general knowledge, is now focused on mostly design and drawing classes.  Make no mistake, 3 credit hours of calculus for an engineering student is now replaced with Viscom(visual communication) 1, 2, and 3…or something similar for a design student.  That is a lot of extra work to be perfecting the art of drawing and designing!

The level of artistic talent in the field of transportation design from a public university seems to be a little lower on average then private design schools.   Due to a private design schools focus on drawing.  That does now mean you cannot get into transportation design.  It just means that any attempt to become better than your average classmate in sketching will depend strictly on how much time and effort you put in on a daily basis outside of your regular work.  I have seen some wonderfully talented artists that have engineering backgrounds, push themselves out of sheer passion to excel.  So it can be done. Other schools may focus more on CAD as a method of conceptualizing their products as to yield a more realistic look.  All of these methods are fair game as the end result is to visualize and communicate your concept to your client or company.

I know that Purdue University, which has an Industrial Design curriculum and is predominantly known for its strength in engineering, has yielded some talented design professionals that are now directors at Kenner Toys.  They are also ranked as one of the top product design schools in the country.  So talent exists out there and it may not be necessary to join private art schools.  However, the auto industry typically gravitates toward the private schools when it comes to auto design.

Here are some other things that you may be thinking of….


This is a VERY tough question to answer so I will only offer my opinion on this. There is a reason why art schools are expensive.  You pay a lot for the environment, the teaching methodology, and feeding off the high level of talented classmates.

Working on your own is tough! This is solely dependent on your drive, determination, discipline, and your natural artistic ability.  You can accomplish a lot on your own however it takes an incredible amount of focus and discipline.  Just practicing drawing cars here and there is not enough.  You need to have a game plan and a structured approach to prepare your mind to learn difficult material.  Drawing cars correctly are one of the toughest things to master next to the human figure.


You have to have the right attitude and mindset.  You hear me mention this over and over again and it’s not by accident or because I love to hear myself say it.  For this reason you will see the average age groups of Art Center students in their 20’s.  They may have already been to college or quit, worked a couple years, and then discovered they want to be a designer.  It takes a certain mindset and maturity level to be able to handle the intensity.

The other thing to consider is the fact that people learn concepts differently and teaching one singular approach may not be enough.  You may need to be exposed to several different methods.  Practicing these methods in combination with diligent practice will unlock the magic in your future work!

This is the main reason you see this Driven Mavens switching up the styles from sketching cars, digital painting, environments, value sketching, post it notes sketches, and advice on how to approach your thinking process.  The more exposure you get the better.


The internet has had a profound impact on how we generally live our lives today. It knows absolutely no boundaries. You have ultimate freedom (in most cases) to search for information and learn certain things about your area of interest. With the availability of high speed internet; video streaming, high rez images, facebook, twitter, have created an immersive experience for all ages.


1.  Access to extraordinary content – You can literally learn a ton of information from basic drawing to some advanced artistic execution.  Most of the premium material is also modestly priced for you to purchase.  All you need to do is have the drive and ambition to do it.

2.  Build an extensive reference library – anything, anyone, or any place that inspires you, is available via hi rez pictures or paintings if you know where to search.  Start building your reference library for you to feed off of.

3.  Convenience – It’s easy to work from home, school, or even in a cafe with a Wi-Fi enabled Ipad or similar

4.  Cheap – By far the cheapest solution to collect information and content


1.  Access to extraordinarily BAD content – Don’t be a sucker and purchase learning material with no substance.  As it is easy to find great information you can easily learn to formulate bad habits by following the wrong advice.

2.  Lack of drive – with no classroom environment and like-minded friends or students to feed off of, it’s very difficult to keep your motivation up.  This will really test how driven you are!

3.  Lack of direction – as great as the internet is, it is HUGE and you can get lost very fast.  Though you can find some great tutorials here and there, it’s hard to figure out what is appropriate to practice and focus on.

4.  Lack of feedback – though it’s easy to practice drawing, how do you know what you are doing is correct?


At the end of the day, there are no short cuts.  You just need to work hard.  The world is a tough place…and you have to consider whether you have what it takes to tackle your fears and drive to the finish line a winner.

By “winner” I mean conquering your own internal conflicts and finding a way to resolve them.  Be the best that you can be….nothing less.

So there you have it.   I can’t really tell you what you should do to pursue your dreams.  All I can do is present you some information to help you make an educated decision.


In the coming weeks you are all going to be JUICED up with information from private school alumnus! They are all good friends of mine and I consider them some of the best in the industry.

Keep a look out next week for Ken Clark, principle automotive interior designer at an automotive company, and CCS alumnus.  This is going to be awesome!  Remember…whether you are a beginner or pro….there is always something new to learn at Driven Mavens!  Catch you later and keep practicing ;)

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