The Academy of Art University: Where Art and Business Collide

academy of art university

The fields of art and business have always been viewed as two islands. Art, the island of creativity and imagination, is home to individuals whose left side of the brain is dominant. Business, on the other hand, is the island of analysis and methodical thinking whose people are mostly right-brained. As much as these two islands have traditionally been viewed as far apart, technology has made it possible for the two to be closer to one another than ever before. In fact, professionals from both fields have begun to realize that they may benefit from one another.

To take this idea one step further, they have realized that they may be better off together, as one island, in a world where business is celebrating creativity and art must find new ways to sustain itself. This world hosts artists who are afforded more opportunities to broadcast their art and by doing so, curate successful careers, or businesses even.

A New Online Marketplace

Online platforms such as Etsy, Artsy, and Instagram are offering artists viable avenues to sell their crafts and brand themselves. These platforms have become stepping stones for artists on their ways to starting their own enterprises, which has ushered a wave of cultural entrepreneurship.

These business artists have highlighted the fact that success goes beyond artistic skill and passion. In order to be a successful artist whose brand sells, business acumen is pivotal. Skills such as accounting, marketing, and communications, are just as practical, if not even crucial, to modern-day artists as much as their paintbrush, pencil and paper.

Academy of Art University Provides Modern Opportunity

Academy of Art University in San Francisco has a curriculum that is well aligned with the shifting relationship of art and business toward one interdisciplinary field. The university’s faculty and staff prepare future artists for the real world of business by guiding them on nurturing their creativity while also preparing for a successful career after graduation. The institution’s schools are diverse, ranging from acting to art history, to graphic design to landscape architecture, to photography and more.

The curriculum is based on three things the school believes are essential for a successful fusion between business and art: business knowledge, meaningful mentorships, and a location that is at the epicenter of technology and art.

In terms of business knowledge, students learn practical skills to conceive, plan, organize, manage and efficiently communicate their ideas into a structured business plan. This, the school believes, is essential as students aim to jump-start their entrepreneurial careers and build their own businesses.

When it comes to meaningful mentorships, the school makes sure that students view instructors at all departments as their mentors who are there to offer honest advice as well as guidance on their path to becoming creative entrepreneurs.

Lastly, the campus is located in the heart of San Francisco, which is a daily meeting point for the realms of technology and design and as such offers graduates the career opportunities they would not be able to find anywhere else so easily following graduation.

A Place for Direct Connections with Potential Employers

The Art University’s diverse curriculum also offers students the opportunity to meet industry professionals and network. One such opportunity comes around each semester as the School of Web Design and Media (WNM) hosts its Ideate Conference that is visited by representatives from companies such as Kohl’s, JPMorgan Chase and Airbnb, as well as smaller agencies and several startups. These professionals meet with the students to view their portfolios, give feedback, as well as scout potential new hires.

Alex Bocknek for Academy Art U News, the institution’s official newssource, interviewed students and faculty involved with the conference.

WNM Director Ryan Medeiros coordinates many of the industry guests with a special eye for variety. “I think the wide range actually shows that all types of companies need the type of work that our students can create, and that our students are generalists and they have a wide scope of skills,” Medeiros said to Academy Art U News, “[The students] have multiple areas that they’re focusing on. That reflects what our industry is looking for. A person has to be versatile. I would say having multiple disciplines makes them better problem solvers overall.”

According to a WNM alum, Joe Golike, “The [students’] overall aesthetics are great. I would say try not to focus too much on the latest and greatest technology. Try to focus on doing good design. The medium is always changing.” “It changed from when they started to when they graduated. [For instance, one might ask,] ‘How do you take complex information and simplify it in an intuitive way for a person to use?’ Trying to figure out what you want to do is really a problem that I’ve seen a lot of students struggle with. Just saying ‘I want to be a UX/UI designer’—that’s not specific enough. The more specific your answer, the better when somebody like me sits across the table from you,” said Golike.

A recent B.F.A. graduate, Ray Chang, adds that “I think here you really get what the industry wants to see. Either they like your work or they don’t see what they’re looking for and they let you know about it,” Chang said. “Ideate definitely updates you on what’s going on in the industry. Sometimes in school, you make something that looks nice and you can pass a class. Industry really just sees if it works for their company or not. It’s really straightforward.”

Wei Wang, a student that focuses on visual design and coding finds the conference useful for several reasons. “I think this is a great opportunity that we, as other majors, don’t get often. Even if we don’t get a job it’s good connections for your career. There’s a variety of different companies here and you receive different perspectives of industry,” Wang said. “They can give us a fresh perspective about what’s going on right now and that’s really great. I feel like they do appreciate the originality of our works.”

Ideas of art and business are rapidly shifting with the rapid advancement of technology and outlets we can use to carry out the two. It is no surprise then that institutions like Academy of Art University seeks to help students synthesize modern ideas of professionalism and creativity in order find success in a variety of modern jobs you wouldn’t see find decades ago. With events like Ideate, institutions help their students bridge disciplines and stay updated on the ways in which they can apply their skillsets in the workforce, a truly invaluable advantage to have.

Haley Thompson

About Haley Thompson

Haley is a journalist with over 10 years of experience in the field. She has held many editorial roles at a number of high-profile publishers – both offline as well as online.

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