My last blog post dealt with the way artists can be exploited by employers. In the interest of giving a balanced view, here are a couple of examples of how the students sometimes get a raw deal.
Art classes are big business: many people would love to be able to draw and paint and are prepared to pay to learn. There is a wealth of classes to choose from, run by colleges, art centres, art clubs, study centres and individual artists. In addition there are numerous painting holidays on offer, both in this country and abroad.
In art, as with any other offer, the key is to read the small print. I recently came across a full page magazine advert with a huge headline that read “Paint in (exotic location) with (well-known artist)”. The advert went on to praise the artist’s skill and reputation, describe the exotic location and enthuse over the hotel.
It was only when you looked carefully that you realised the artist would be completing his own paintings to “inspire” the students. There was no structured teaching – only group discussions in the evening and a little “individual guidance”, but the artist was happy for others to “paint alongside him”.
I’m not saying that’s wrong, just that the holiday was obviously designed for experienced painters and anyone needing tuition would struggle.
Another way that students can lose out is when the artist works on their own painting during a class. Again, it’s a situation that is more suited to the experienced painter who can mostly work unsupervised. Personally, I believe that an artist working on their own painting in a class is wrong. If an artist is paid to teach, that is what they should be doing, irrespective of the students’ ability.
So my advice to students is simple. Read the small print, check that the tuition on offer is suitable for your needs and don’t be afraid to ask questions before you book. Make sure you are getting value for money.
Lets all aim for a fair deal for both students and artists.