As a current sophomore art education major, I'm almost halfway through my education to hopefully becoming an art teacher. Oftentimes when I go to the doctors or dentist, I am asked the question, “What are you studying?” With the dental hygienist poking tools around my mouth, I mumble a reply of “Art Education.” Which leads to the follow up questions of: “What do you want to do with that?” or “Is there a high demand for those?” Well, I am still trying to figure that out… and well, damn, I hope so.

Contrary to popular belief, going to art school is not all fun and games. I'm not saying getting an art degree is harder than going to law school, but it still costs a lot of your time, devotion, money, and stress. There are a multitude of obstacles, along with the occasional mental breakdowns that go hand in hand with following your passion. Here's a list of my struggles and what to keep in mind to overcome them to benefit you.

1. Getting up close and personal with your artwork leaves you looking like a diamond in the rough.

coffee, beer
Lisa Romano

Charcoal seeps deep within your pores not only on your hands, but on your face. I have no scientific proof to back me up on this—but drawing tools like chalk pastel and charcoal make me breakout. And they are impossible to wash off of hands.

It is a hassle to explain to the nail salon lady why your hands are stained black. No, I am not living in the streets—I am just an art major. This is why it is important to always have baby wipes on hand. Once I started washing my face with the Clarisonic (a mechanical exfoliating brush), my breakouts went away.

2. If I am not covered in paint, is it really me?

Michelle LoPinto

Paint gets on my favorite clothes ALLL the time. So when I want to go to school looking cute, it always backfires. I have to either bum it when I have studio classes or bring a change of clothes. I say just rock the sweatpants and call yourself Boho. Better yet, dedicate a pair of jeans for doing artwork in and voila, a unique pair of splatter painted jeans you can't find at Urban Outfitters. 

3. Having a love-hate relationship with the work you produce is a constant trend. 

As an art major, it is very easy to doubt yourself. Thinking you're not good enough, wondering if you can make it in the real world, is art a hobby or a career?! Constant thoughts. Having a love-hate relationship with the art you make will drive you to continue to make art.

That means you have expectations for yourself that you strive to achieve. DO NOT compare your work to that of your peers or the art Instagram account with thousands of followers. Just focus on how your improving. Comparing your old work to your new work is a better option. 

4. Having to fake a smile when people under value the work you make.

Dealing with the stress of having to convince others why your art is important or if it is even considered art is a task and a half. Having people say that you can sell your art for five dollars when it takes six hours to do a piece is more than heart shattering. Just realize that good art takes time and there is someone out there who will acknowledge your work, like what you do and, who knows, maybe even pay a pretty penny for it.

5. Trying not to feel personally attacked during critiques is not as easily said as done.

Art is very personal, and when professors and classmates have less than positive feedback it can be slightly discouraging. But the only way to overcome the anxiety of peer critiques it is to not stop making art. Take the criticism and benefit from it. You can't improve on a blank canvas!

6. The cost of materials will leave you wearing the same jeans for the next five years.

Unfortunately, quality materials cost a lot money. This is not like high school anymore where your teacher would have the supplies you need in class; now it is all on you. The price you pay on your materials definitely impacts the quality of your work. The cost of one textbook at the beginning of the semester—HAHA. Try the cost of that times ten.

Your local art store will get used to seeing you every week (and maybe cringe because you are that girl who walked around the store for an hour touching every piece of paper). Unfortunately, there is no direct solution to this except definitely opening up a rewards card at your frequent art store.

7. Going to art museums and realizing that classical butts are WAY BETTER THAN YOURS never gets old.

Michelle LoPinto

This one is for shits and giggles. BUTT REALLY?! C'mon, I am going to have to start having leg day every day, the struggle here is real.

8. Trying to focus in class inevitably leads to a page full of doodles.

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Lisa Romano

Alongside studio classes and art history courses, there are a series of general education requirements and learning requirements that must be met. The only way to cope? Drawing the professor or your classmate's really square head. No shame in being a visual learner.

9. Non-art majors always go to you to help them with anything craftsy. 

Do I REALLY want to spend my time making Pinterest-inspired bridal shower chalkboards? Not as much as you don't. Tasks like these are tedious and distract from the plethora of art assignments we should be working on.

Things like these are hard to turn down when you are helping out a relative or friend. If you have the time, accept the challenge, but if you are too busy with your own work it's okay to say no. And who knows, maybe it could turn into a side business for a little extra cash? To, you know, stock up on more art supplies.

10. Trying to find the time to have a social life is complicated.

tea, pizza, coffee, beer
Michelle LoPinto

It's hard to push out of your mind that you have 12 paintings due in two weeks. You find yourself declining offers to hangout with your friends so you can stay in the studio and paint. Solution: Organize a time for you and your fellow art majors to meet in the studio and work on assignments together. It's nice to have company and an extra set of eyes to help give you advice throughout the process.

If you feel like taking a break, hit up an art museum for some inspiration. You can even bring your non-art major friends to the studio while you paint and watch them be amazed. It's like watching Bob Ross paint happy little trees for them, except better since they get to be a DJ. Win-Win situation. 

11. Always fearing that you'll never find your personal style is stressful.

Everyone wants what they do to be specific to them, fresh and never seen before. The only way to develop a style is to make more art and have dedication to your craft. If you have to make 40 paintings in one week, so be it. Chances are that 10 of them will be good and the others you will have to pick and choose what needs to be edited in or out.

Embrace the artistic process. College is about learning as much as you can, and taking as many classes in as many different subjects to find out what you like and applying it to what you do. You may not find your niche right away, and that is ok.