Online art schools are having a moment.
While the cost of private art schools has ballooned, access to information and mentorship is providing a counterweight to this trend. Why should people pay $60,000 per year to become a motion designer or illustrator, when they can access information and mentorship for 1/10th the cost?
There is no doubt that Art School still holds tremendous value for serious students. We are living in a golden age for artists who want to make a living with their work. Jobs are abundant and growing. With every new smartphone, streaming service and website, the need for visual artists and film-makers grows. But how valuable is that traditional model given all the new alternatives?
Online art schools, like MoGraph Mentor or School of Motion, are part of a trend that is providing new paths into the creative economy. This is possible in creative fields because, instead of a credential, employers want to see a portfolio.
Portfolio or Diploma?
The saving grace for artists in attending an online motion design school is that our industry cares about the portfolio more than the degree. While not true for doctors, lawyers or business executives, creatives are judged by the quality of their portfolio.
This allows creative industries to thrive outside the traditional credentialing that is so central to many other industries. Being an animator, designer or illustrator requires a strong portfolio to show future employers and clients what you can do.
In my 12 years in the industry, I have not once been asked about a degree. Perhaps that has more to do with being a motion designer, a relatively new field with less established degree programs. I know many graphic designers are still asked about a degree, especially when working for larger corporations.
Large technology firms are moving in the direction of a portfolio over diploma, with recent announcements about dropping educational requirements. These firms are the most progressive and cutting edge in the world, so it is perhaps a preview of what’s to come for the economy at large.