I want to be an illustrator.
I self-learned for 4 years doing nothing but drawing as a neet and although I have a decent foundation, it's not nearly professional level. The problem is that my area does not have any decent schools; these are all in California or New York and I don't really have the cash for an expensive US education.
I'm graduating with a BA in history this semester. I'm thinking of doing a scholarship in Taiwan for a year to learn Chinese and then do graduate school in Chinese history, since the illustrator thing didn't work out. I guess I'm just kind of down since history isn't really my passion but I assume that there isn't really any alternatives.
You can either continue drawing as a hobby, which is perfectly fine, or sacrifice everything to go to school for illustration. If you really wanted to be an illustrator bad enough, you would have found some way to study it, maybe it's not for you? Either way, Your history thing seems to be going great so I think stick with that, your job doesn't have to be your greatest passion.
Art schools are a waste of money. ANYTHING they teach you is available online for free.
Finish your education first. Far too many people think Art and illustration is something they can live off of. And its not. Get a life together then pursue your true passions in life.
I've done Vilppu's videos, New masters academy, gnomon, cgma classes, and local classes at a shitty studio nearby. They have all (except the last one) helped enormously in introducing me to the method of illustration but I have never benefitted from one on one teaching that i assume is essential to actually improve and figure out what I am doing wrong. I have put a tremendous amount of effort into self teaching because I knew that when I started, it was too late for me to ask my parents to fund my education abroad.
Maybe it had worked for you, but not in my case.
The only thing going to art school is going to do is make you work on your art more and reteach you things you already know. Your best bet is to save your money and discipline yourself to work on your art more during your free time.
Art school always seems very interesting and lucrative, but in the end you are just paying for your own time to work on your art.
99% of the people that do get work in the field ( however few that may be) did go to art school. Its much more than just practice, it allows you to network (super important), learning and getting criticism with teachers who are successful in the field ( which is waaaaay better than learning alone), and teaches you how to prepare and present your portfolio and actually get it seen. Op is always going to be far behind the people that actually did go to school for illustration.
This is just not true. Go to any gallery and you will find majority of art is from people did not get a formal education in art. Yes if you hit up big places like Cali it will be different, but ask any artist what they do to pay the bills and they will all either have a spouse or be working a job on the side.
And if this is even remotely about graphic design. There is no money in it.
Not sure if this helps, but I'm a fulltime musician/audio person and in this world you can either find someone to study with privately or apprentice under, or go to school which is essentially a more efficient way to be around a lot of great teacher. Is there an equivalent in the art world, where you can apprentice under a great illustrator and learn the business?
Sure you can learn everything on your own. But if you're not a natural self-starter (which is totally fine, and I'm assuming you're not since since you're asking about this here and mentioning school already) you will seriously learn everything SOOOO much faster when you have someone looking over your shoulder and checking your progress.
It's not as true in the fine art world. But I can tell you with total certainty it's very true in the commercial art world, which is where illustration is. Graphic and industrial design are similar.
This just isn't true at all. Most of the time when illustrators etc get hired it's on the strength of their portfolios, not their degrees, and the truth is that not everybody needs that kind of formal instruction to bump their work up to a professional level. Your points about networking and learning how to present your portfolio aren't completely without merit, but telling somebody to drop tens of thousands of dollars on art school on the off chance that they'll make some valuable connections there etc simply isn't responsible advice (and it also greatly depends on the school.) If you really do work in the field the way you're implying, then I'm sure you're aware that most aspiring illustrators, both with and without degrees, can expect to work second jobs for at least a few years while breaking into it (the success of which is no certainty.)
Frankly, I'm inclined to wonder whether you went to school for graphic design or something related and you're speaking with more confidence than you should on a different (albeit related) field.
Nice made up statistics.
OP, there are plenty of people in the industie that never went to art school, a fair amount I might add.
I did go to art school myself where I studied illustations, I can't say that that I've learned anything there that I couldn't have tought myself.
4 years ain't that much, there are people who get into the industie after only 2-4 years but they are few.
Thing is you have to be either really good or have a insider that can get you in.
Nepotism is sadly a big issue.
I wish you best of luck OP it's a hard road and you might not like the end as it's not the dream job most people think it is.