What Art School Has Taught Me

No, we don't finger paint and make crafts all day. 
We do, however, learn history, technique, entrepreneurship and get critiqued on our own work.
These are the lessons that stood out to me over the last 2 years at New Brunswick College of Craft and Design.



On one of our many "coffee breaks"




1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Whether it be my photography, drawing or painting, I always felt like it wasn't good enough. I was constantly feeling like shit about my work, until a teacher told me “Hillary, it’s not shit. If you drew like everyone else, it wouldn’t stand out”

It made me realize that even though I’m not the best, I put my own personal style into everything that I do and it shows. That is my super power. 


2. Do things for free
Yup - that’s right. Do things for free when you’re starting out (but also know when to say 'no'). I volunteered to be a photographer at Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, scored a free pass to any show at the event and photographed Classified from backstage. It was AMAZING. Volunteering also looks hella good on a resume and the shots from the festival landed me another paying gig. 




3. Get out of your comfort zone
I used to feel dumb even bringing my camera out in public, but this morning I stood on a chair to take a picture of my latte at a local cafe. I definitely have come out of my shell since coming to college. I learned that being social/outspoken are essential parts of being a photographer, you can’t be shy or self conscious when you’re an artist. Getting yourself out there is key. Do something you’re afraid to do and I promise you’ll wonder why you even feared it in the first place. Stop caring so much about what other people think and just live your life. Don't be afraid to pull your cameras out during events - you’ll have a good shot that nobody else will. 

This year, I also modelled nude for a fellow photographer. It was totally out of my comfort zone at first - but DAMN I felt so good after when I realized the human body itself is a work of art. #bodyposi


4. Don’t sell yourself short

It doesn't matter what studio you’re in, everything takes time and money. In photography, the darkroom process alone can take days to come out with a decent print by the time you process and develop the negatives. Film costs money. Printing costs money. Equipment, renting studios, Photoshop, Lightroom - Over $2000 has been spent on supplies alone this year. The supplies can cost even more depending on the medium you’re working with. Even your time has value whether its the time you spent being educated on technique or the time you spent on the actual piece of art - it has value. Never sell yourself short - especially when pursuing a career in the arts. Know that you are valuable and if someone doesn’t want to pay the price - then they’re not your client. 


5. Try new things

You never know what will work and what won’t work until you try. If you get positive feedback - Great! Remember that negative feedback is a good motivator to try harder or to try again. NEVER STOP TRYING NEW THINGS. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. Even if your project doesn't turn out good it’s a learning experience on what no to do. Trying new things expands your knowledge and can be very inspiring, inside and outside of the classroom. 




6. Always believe in yourself.

I took on 9 courses in one semester. I knew going it that it was going to be time-consuming and stressful, but I never doubted myself. I said “I CAN do this” when others said they couldn't. I watched as other students dropped classes or dropped out completely. I really do believe in the saying: “He who thinks he can and he who thinks he can’t are both usually right.” I’m not sure who said it, but it’s absolutely true. 



7. People skills, people skills, people skills!!!!

Meeting new people is amazing because you can trade knowledge on different topics. I always learn something cool when I meet new people. It’s so inspiring! Not only is it fun to meet new people, but it’s also a good way to met future clients, market yourself, or even meet people to collaborate with. Thats right - collaboration over competition. I worked on a set at Franks Finer Diner where we had a group of 5 working together (Including another photographer!) and honestly it's one of my favourite images. Magic happens when you work together <333

Check out my face eating octopus by photog Cyril Bryne



Having good people skills can really benefit your business.


Bottom line is, be yourself. Be open to new ideas. Take the path less travelled. Be independent and don’t conform to the ‘norm’ - you’ll never stand out that way. Not just in art school where it shows in your final product - but everywhere else too. 

Photo by Karen Ruet


I’m happy with who I am and who I’ve become. Thank you, New Brunswick College of Craft and Design for the amazing 2 years! I’m already looking forward to coming back! 
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