CalArts vs Pratt

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by ezkimo, Apr 11, 2008.

  1. ezkimo macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2002
    Oh, and Cranbrook, though I think I've eliminated it unless somebody convinces me otherwise.

    So, I've narrowed it down to those two options for grad school, but have no idea which to pick. CalArts for Graphic Design and Pratt for Communication Design. According to USnews (which, as far as I'm concerned, is a dubious source) CalArts is ranked higher that Pratt as of this year.

    Thoughts on location, quality of education, program specifics, or whatever else are welcome. THANKS!
  2. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    based on my own research, i think that calarts is a much, much better program than pratt. its kind of like a cranbrook in that there is a fair bit of a self-paced experimental environment but there is some good structure to be had as well.

    cranbrook can be great, but what elliot earls is doing there now is really dragging it way down - look at the work coming out that program to see what i mean. if it were not for elliot it would be fantastic.

    i assume the other big guns you are not looking at? (RISD, SAIC, Yale, NC State, Virginia Commonwealth, Art Center)

    My short list for MFA was CalArts, NC State, Virginia and Yale (i have a BFA from RISD.) I crossed off CCA, Cranbrook, MICA, and MCAD.

    Having said all that, the next person on this thread might contradict everything i just said, so its all opinion. the only way to really, really know is to go there and visit each program. talk to the students. sit in on some crits. look at the work. read the thesis proposals. see the facilities.
  3. ezkimo thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2002
    Thats the what I've been thinking. I'm going to visit Pratt this week to get a better perspective. CalArts was slightly underwhelming from a facilities and location standpoint, but the faculty, students and work were all quite good.

    I applied to a pretty odd variety of schools, though most of them well known programs. I've already been accepted to those 3, and have eliminated the other options.

    I'm curious why you decided not to apply to RISD for your MFA. The students at CalArts did not have nice things to say about the program (it being old fashioned mainly).
  4. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    well, i got my undergrad at RISD, so going back for my MFA is generally not recommended - there is too much overlap between the grad and undergrad programs there. having said that if i had not gone to risd already it would be my first choice for an MFA hands down. and every other school i have ever talked to likes to toss RISD under the bus, because its the big bear in the room; and after having spent a lot (a LOT) of time with the MFA students and taking some of the MFA classes while i was there, i can assure you the last thing it is is old fashioned.

    my personal opinion is that facilities, location, campus life, etc. are pretty much totally irrelevant when it comes to an MFA. all that matters is the work, the faculty, the visiting critics, and the network. calarts spanks pratt in those regards. i do think calarts has that west coast feel to some of the work (which can get kind of trite at times), but the program is open enough where you are really going to do what you want to, without the bad leadership of a cranbrook.
  5. miguel mouse! macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2008
    what do you guys think about the School of Visual Arts in NY? they have Sagmeister, Heller, Glaser and more on their faculty. :D
  6. ezkimo thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2002
    Where do you see that? Their website, from what I can tell, only lists Heller.

    I'm not that impressed with the work on their website, though they are ranked well on USnews, though as I said I'm not sure that its a good source.
  7. miguel mouse! macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2008
    hmm. i've seen their names on the website before and i have teachers that have graduated from that school. let me see if i can get any proof for you.

    in the meantime check out this pdf link from PRINT magazine. page 2 shows the majority of award-winning designers under 30 are graduating from SVA.
  8. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    magazine awards are irrelevant. and print is based in NYC, so naturally NYC people get all the awards.

    personally, i do not hold a lot of value in any of the NYC design schools. (pratt, parsons, SVA). they teach a very derivative style of hip NYC design that i think is heavy on aesthetic and low on thought.
  9. czardonic macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2008
    First, where did you do your undergraduate work? What was your major?

    I hope not art, but something which truly stimulated your intellect, taught you to reason, to think, be it mathematics or psychology or english.

    The only art school, back in my day, which offered a reasonable academic option was Rhode Island School of Design, and only for those who opted for the Brown affiliation. As far as art courses went, it sucked, and as far as I can tell, if a couple fairly recent apprentices of mine are any indication, still does.
    You should know that the very best art schools, are really glorified trade schools. As a matter of fact, the very best fashion school in this country was L.A. Trade Tech — making no bones about it. At any rate, you’ll want to learn the basics, from the ground up.

    Personally, AFTER attending Miami U. and the University, majoring in business and psychology, I went to the Art Center College, way back when it was on 3rd Street. All but one teacher were very talented, very successful, very respected, working professionals, who taught no more than one or two days per week. I’ve no idea who’s teaching there now, but suggest you check them out should you find yourself in the area visiting CalArts.

    FORGET THE RANKINGS! US News!! What the hell could they possibly know about Art or Design? The U.S. media these days, is astounding ignorant about anything else — they’re just corporate lickspittles, at best.

    Back to the concept of picking schools for their teachers, if the Glaser of whom miguel mouse! speaks is Milton Glaser (Seymour Chwast’s partner), his work is among the very best ever. But, then again, after briefly checking out the SVA site, I come away unimpressed with the student work.
  10. czardonic macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2008
    One additional though —

    When I was deciding, between the Art Center College and Pratt,
    my decision should have been between UCLA and Southern Cal.
    Those were the two big Film schools, and they both had sound academic curricula.
    I would have been working with, or competing against, fellow students such as Spielberg, Lucas, and a host of others those schools turned out. Film (or the equivalent), after all, is THE ART of the day, of yesterday, and tomorrow.
    So if TV or Movies are a consideration, you might want to check out the credits of your favorites. “The Wire” is the best work I’ve seen in years — but pick your own favorites. Then check the credits, check their bios to see where they studied, or even write letters directly to them. You’ll be surprised to see how many will respond. No joke!
  11. ezkimo thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2002
    I did my undergrad at a tiny school in Iowa that I'm fairly certain you've never heard of thats quite hippie. I certainly didn't go there for the academics, but for the spirituality and other eccentricities of it. I'm still trying to decide if it was a good decision. I had a pretty rounded education in brain physiology, physics, literature and all those other shenanigans on top of doing digital design and ceramics as my major. The ceramics professor there is fairly well known in the field and a really incredible teacher. Anyway, I subscribe to the idea that doing your undergrad outside of art can be a good idea.
  12. czardonic macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2008
    And if you get a chance, or make one, grab his shirt tails on the way out, and ask him what he thinks the best film school would be, for your purposes.
    The entertainment business is largely recession/depression-proof, whereas…

    You're right, I had not heard of the school, but it's focus on sustainability is greatly needed these days. However, having been subjected to such, you may well be disillusioned with the purposes to which your abilities and efforts are put to use, should you employ them commercially. If you plan to use your degrees to teach, that, of course, isn't a consideration.

    More later -- pretty busy right now.
  13. Z.Beeblebrox macrumors regular


    Nov 27, 2007
    NJ / NYC
    Savannah College of Art and Design has an excellent graduate program. They offer Graphic Design, Advertising Design, Arts Administration and Teaching Art masters. The faculty is diverse and outstanding, the technology up to the minute and the campus is beautiful. Companies and firms come from all across the world to recruit at SCAD. Many of my friends who've graduated here are working at the top of their game right now. Check it out...
    Savannah College of Art and Design
  14. ezkimo thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2002
    David is a wonderful man. I've spoken to him several times and he really is as genuine and nice as they come. He got my ceramics class tickets to see Inland Empire at the NY premier which was quite the experience.

    I really don't know what I plan on doing after I graduate. Teaching is definitely an option, though I'm not sure it's something that I would be good at.
  15. ezkimo thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2002
    I visited Pratt the day before yesterday and I was thoroughly unimpressed. Seems like a very disorganized and weirdly structured program. CalArts it is then.
  16. megfilmworks macrumors 68020


    Jul 1, 2007
    Sherman Oaks
    CalArts rocks! Education and connections for your future career.
    Good luck.
  17. penter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2006
    sorry, but i saw RISD and Art Center be thrown up in the conversation somewhere.

    I'm heavily dbating these two schools.

    I am currently enrolled at RISD, class of 2012, but last week i just got a full-tuition paid offer from Art Center.

    What do I do??!!!

    whcih art center are you guys talking about? Because i'm talking about Art Center in Pasadena, California.
  18. czardonic macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2008
    How many years have you been attending RISD?
    Are you taking your academic classes (English, Math, etc.) at Brown?

    Neither RISD nor the Art Center, in the past, offered such academic courses much beyond the sixth grade level. That may have changed with the advent of the computer, if the schools are requiring skills necessary to program, or develop web sites and such. I was a transfer from the University of Michigan, and regret not having graduated from such a genuine college before for ACD. In fact, back then, they encouraged all prospective student to go to a REAL school first. Be forewarned, ALL the best art schools are actually high falootin’ crafts or trade schools. Remember that Michelangelo considered himself to be a stone carver, not an artist.

    As far as teaching basic skills required to succeed at commercial arts, from illustration to graphic design, ACD has historically been unsurpassed. Check to see whether the teachers at ACD are still primarily working professionals. When I went there, all but two were.

    However, if your intending to be a “fine” artist, stay where you are, and concentrate on hobnobbing, and obtuse rationalizations for the slop they encourage you to turn out.

    Having gone to the Art Center, when it was then on Third Street, in L.A., many many moons ago, the courses were rigorous and thorough — requiring a couple all-nighters a week. Leave your beret and any artsy-fartsy attitude at home. Be prepared to role up your sleeves and buckle down to work.

    But, of course, I can only really speak of school it was then — back when I was suspended for two days for having my shirt tails out, and another time for failing to wear socks. But as I implied, the rolling-up of sleeves was permitted.

    You’re lucky to have been offered a scholarship. When I went, the only aid was reserved for those who had a proven financial need, and had demonstrated themselves worthy by outstanding achievement for at least a year at the school.

    more later…
  19. penter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2006
    Thank you, czardonic.

    Well, yeah i feel really lucky to have receive such scholarships.

    In fact i also got fully tuition and half of my housing paid at RISD.
    I'd have to take care of rent, food, and utilities at art center, and just half-housing, and food at RISD.

    I haven't begun enrollment at RISD. I have paid my deposits, however.

    Its just that Art Center came in with this offer, last week, and REALLY threw me off. You see, it's been my dream school for the past 4 years. Alumni from my high school have attented Art Center, and they tell me all about it.

    I'm torn between a possible Bachelors of Architecture (BArch) at RISD, or Illustration (possibly transfering to Entertainment Design) at Art Center.

    Any advice?
  20. czardonic macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2008
    whooaaa nelly!

    In other words, you don't really know what you want to do, unless maybe it's a little of this and a little of that!

    Your abilities and grades must be pretty darned good in subjects aside from art, if I read you right. RISD for architecture?!! Most of the classes must be at Brown, correct? If so, forget ACD for now. While their illustration program should be far superior to RISD's, historically at least, what pass for academic classes were an embarrassment -- a decent high school wouldn't have accepted their credits.

    How in the world did you wrangle such scholarships in the first place? Did you apply only to art schools? Did you even consider applying to either Southern Cal or U.C.L.A? Both schools have pretty good Architecture schools, and their film schools are probably the best in the country, if not the world.

    You might consider starting out at RISD, focus on architecture and engineering (Brown), and consider transferring later to S.C or U.C.L.A., if still interested in film. Think about painting pictures with cameras, not just brushes. Traditional illustration, sadly, is passe, old school -- sadly mourned by illustrators such as Bernie Fuchs and Mark English.
    Remember, the Art Center, as great as it was and still may be, is a one way street, even a cul de sac.
    There were four of us knocking heads for top spot there in Advertising Design. One had graduated from UCLA, another was altering years between U. of Colorado, the third had graduated in business from U. of Kansas, and yours truly had three and a half years between Miami U. and U. of MI., in psychology and business studies.
    I can't stress enough that to succeed, you will benefit a WELL ROUNDED, WELL GROUNDED education.

  21. penter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2006
    Thanks for the response.
    I pretty much applied only to art schools. Art Center, RISD, Cleveland Institute of Art all offered me full tuition scholarships (not to brag lol). I also got into VCU, UF, and MICA, and SUNY Purchase, and CCS.
    I wouldn't have had to have followed in the artistic path at UF, though.
    My high school (New World School of the Arts) prepared me REALLY well for all of this.
    My goal is to be successful in life; I don't necessarily have a dream carrer in mind here. I was just trying to find out what would be the more viable option to make it to that goal.
    I figured that at RISD it would have been through a BArch, and Art Center an Illustration major (with a focus on Entertainment Design or Entertainment Arts).
    I finally settled for Art Center, because it looks pretty promising, and I really think I got what they want. The path at RISD (though seemingly more stable, thus easier) was much too long, and not necessarily as promising.
    I'm actually looking for a place to live in Pasadena as of right now, any help is appreciated. :)
  22. czardonic macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2008

    Look for a place around Pasadena City College. When you realize that the
    Liberal Arts and other "academic" classes don't go far beyond the 4th grade
    level, you may want to enroll there, as well.
    By the way, you're better-off signing up for Ad-Ill, or Advertising-Illustration.
  23. Mr. B macrumors regular

    Dec 25, 2005
    yeah, i'm taking advertising-illustration (with an emphasis on illustration) at pratt.

    fantastic school

    I highly recommend it.
  24. penter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2006
    Art center is career-oriented school. they highly focus on teaching you what you're gonna need to go into the business.

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