Academic Studies

Academic studies are one of the most controversial topics for me to think of. On one hand there is invaluable knowledge to be learn in the process and on the other hand there is a full amount of blocks to our own grow. I have come to avoid academic study thru all my life, I also have been close to it and ironically, my very own mother is a university teacher herself, what an casuality.

While universities have a lot of teachings to offer, on today’s age there is so many sources from which to learn what we need to get where we want that I don’t see much use on going thru five years of academic teaching, unless you are just after the tittle. Most useful knowledge can be acquired elsewhere without the barriers and misconception academic institution have. They too claim to teach a way of thinking, I would dare to say they teach you a way of self restrain, they teach what good techniques are, what bad techniques are, what is the right way to do thinks and so on. While on their premises all the teachings hold true, the same can be said about the 15th century teachings. What we taught ourselves today can be rendered obsolete ten, twenty, fifty years from now, so while the knowledge in itself is useful in the sense that empowers you with tools to use, the subliminal ruling set on stone about it is incredibly harmful.

I was a programmer once and never academically studied it, then a system engineer making a good living out of it and never did a computer science degree, now an artist, passing thru photography and painting, I consider myself successful after managing what I thought would take one year in three months, and what  thought it would take 3 years in six months. I have also met a wide array of brilliant self-tought engineers and artists to know I am not alone.

I have come to believe institutions, by their very nature and dependence on rules not only lack the flexibility to adapt quickly  to changes in the world, but also stands between your work and what you like doing, creating a subconscious mental process of constantly judging your own work by today “standards” , which are inevitably going to change. You no longer create freely, using your imagination on the spontaneity of the moment, but you start second guessing your brush strokes according to what the rule tells you must do, and while your work may be technically impeccable, it may very well lacks passion, emotion, character, the uniqueness that defines you as a person and as an artist.

“There is no must in art because art is free”
Wassily Kandensky

If we really look inside ourselves, we can find all sort of resources to create with. We know when a painting have “awesome” colors without studying the color wheel. We know when a photograph is impacting without studying the rule of thirds, we know what we feel, what we like or don’t like based on the world we see and feel, we know when a piece of music is amazingly composed just by listening to it. We have our lifetime of experiences to empower ourselves with and we have future experiences to keep growing, we only need to let ourselves reverse the flow, instead of taking in, letting it out. Instead of judging, we just have to listen to what feels right, to what tick inside us when we create and just go with the flow. It is all that is required, and if we discover we need to learn specific tools, we can just learn them on the move, we can study what we need at the moment, what we feel we need to expand ourselves with those new tools. In that sense arts are not so much different that technical careers, it was the same way I made my living out of computing, by learning and applying on the move.

If you haven’t started practicing something you want, don’t put school as an excuse, it is not, it has never been, that’s what the banks may want you to think. If you are studying something you haven’t tried before in your life, ask yourself if it is something you really love, chances are if you haven’t done it yet it’s because you didn’t like it enough. And if you are studying something you really love, please stay open-minded enough to be willing break the rules and expand beyond what you are being taught. After all, the biggest delight of rules is breaking them  :)

“The function of a creative artist consists of making laws, not in following laws already made”
Ferruccio Busoni

Until next time,
Gabor

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