What I learnt from art students


I was at NAFA earlier today and had the good fortune of speaking with some fine art students. The impression I get from them is that they chose to follow their heart first instead of chasing the dollar.

I asked a few of them the same question: “Are you in NAFA because of a career, or because of interest”?

The first answer fired off came straight from the heart: interest. Each one felt like it was a calling. Each one wants to communicate their feelings and emotions with the talents and skills they have. Each one had a story to tell through their work.

This is what it is about isn’t it: if you chose to go into a line of study thinking that you can make big money out of it, chances are you’ll be disappointed. Like a whole bunch of law students according to Law Minister Shanmugam.

And the arts industry provides good career prospects. Whatever you chose to pursue: design, fine art, fashion, visual comms… there are commercial markets which pay good salaries. Ad agencies, in-house comms teams, fine art galleries, museums – even if you chose to abandon the route of art making, you still make a pretty good creative thinker (and that’s what our society needs more of anyway)

I think perhaps too often, we’re driven by economics more than we are passion. I have had some friends who blatantly say “aiyah, just go and study anything lah…got degree can oreidi”. But no, I don’t believe in that. If you have zero interest for a course of study, your degree will show that zero interest. What’s the point?

Anyway, here are a couple of the students I spoke with today:

Zhong Da, 26 – “I’m in it really for interest first but hoping to be a fine artist”

Yvonne Yoon, 26 – “Yes, definitely because I have a passion for arts”

Yu Hao 20 – “I’d say more for interest”

Germaine Chong, 23 – “I’m hoping to make a career out of it as a curator”

Sarah Rohimone, 20 – “For interest to start with, but I’d really like to build a career as a creator or a gallery owner also!”




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