The Mien of the Art Major
If you’re an Art major, the line between lifestyle choice and schoolwork is a thin, if nonexistent one.
By Alina Shaikh, University of Toronto
So you have Flume, Chet Faker and Disclosure all scattered throughout your Soundcloud playlists, all organized and titled with things like “linework” and “shading” – even one relatively suspicious mix labelled “bone structure//cartilage ridges” that’d be pretty fucking hard to explain to your flatmates.
Good thing no one questions why you need different genres for various parts of the human anatomy. It’s just proper art kid etiquette nowadays. The thing about graduating with any sort of art degree is that people aren’t exactly known for taking you seriously, and if they do, they’re concerned over your diet of spearmint gum and green tea pokky sticks you’re never seen without.
Ramen noodles and the shit coffee from the Average College Kid Handbook don’t even cut it anymore. It’s basically whatever food your concerned RAs throw at you whenever they see you out of the studio, your clothes unabashedly slathered in clay and your eye bags glistening with seafoam paint that you definitely 100 percent planned purposely. You explain away your situation with a shrug and unintelligible mumbles of “Late night, new project. You know.” They never do know, but they don’t really have it in them to ask when you look like your knees are going to give out at any second.
On the plus side, at least those cold, empty art lofts are only for those particularly serious in their craft, as artists are notoriously hard to live with. Ask anyone involved in the department and they’ll probably tell you the same thing: The sculptors are the most attached to their creations.
I had to scavenge for a pile of newfound quilts to throw over my good friend, Avery, in the middle of Toronto’s -15°C winter, all because he “couldn’t get the little eyebrow strands right.”
He’s the type of person that feels momentarily disappointed that he doesn’t get to see his piece all curled up in the blankets next to him, before he reminds himself to get it the fuck together. At least until after all the brunch mimosas.
Cigarettes come and go throughout the studio, as the most infamous Insta posts in the venue consist of some long-standing drag next to a “No Smoking” sign. Cigs also happen to be the most notable cause for people to just up and leave class, usually with their eyes rolled as far as humanly possible. You can tell a lot from someone’s brand of choice: Parliaments for the Arctic Monkeys fans, Newports for the addicts and Dunhills for the kids who have a trust fund back home and might fancy a degree in the future.
Unfortunately for them, the profs don’t twiddle their thumbs waiting for them to come back from their third smoke break in the 45 minutes they’ve been working a piece, and we’ve all heard the obligatory “Your Canvas is Not an Ashtray” speech more times than would be deemed necessary by anyone, really. Going to all your tutorials is basically the equivalent of your first step to quitting, one might say.
The craze of the Do-It-Yourself piercing trend came along when teenagers started to realize you could do just about anything on camera and garner even more attention than a snarky Facebook status or some eye-catching subtweet. People realized poking themselves and uploading it to YouTube would truly validate their lives. And, god, what validation it was.
I remember going through all the YouTube-created mixes of people, ranging from 13 to 24, trying their hand at “Easy Industrial Practice Piercings” to the old classic “Tragus/Rook/Helix Combo in One Go!!” Consequently, I was then forced to try my hand at a variety of butterfly stitches over friends’ bleeding lobes, their feet dangling over the kitchen counter while thumbing down the “tutorials” that failed them beautifully.
And then there’s the whole “But what would your parents think?” disingenuous concern for all art students, like college kids are supposed to be on the road to a guaranteed 401K and a 10-year-plan, ending in shipping their parents off to a home somewhere in the south of France.
The thing is, parents are going to worry about you no matter what you do— the point is to make sure they never find out about your fuckups, not to never fuck up. Wise words from art students everywhere. And maybe some dropouts, but that’s for another time.