Should I pursue an art career?
I try my best not to get involved with my peers, but a category that I try to avoid even harder is that of the so-called "aspiring manga artists".
No matter how little talent you have as a senpai, once you spot a youngling who aspires to your same profession, your brain magically summons senior-among-seniors Takanori Nishikawa and a strong senpai-breeze begins to blow.
In the manga industry, you never know when someone is going to make a breakthrough, so it's not unusual for the younglings who gave you Nishikawa-visions to suddenly come up with stuff of the caliber of Jujutsu Kaisen from one year to the next.
That's when the senpai-breeze comes back to slap you in the face.
To avoid similar situations, I refrain from getting involved with my peers as much as possible, and if (for my sins!) I'm unable to keep them at arm's length, I brush them off with some polite words, such as "You'll definitely make it, champ!"
If they end up succeeding, I'll be in the position to say "See, I told you so! m9(^Д^)", while if they fail, I'll have a lil' party with myself and even splurge on a couple of bags of 7-Eleven edamame chips.
It’s naive to think that just because the person you're talking to is an elder, they'll respond kindly to a kid like you.
Of course, some people will be kind, but the more you ask around, the more you'll learn that the world is full of grumpy old-timers like me.
So the first thing you've gotta do is stop asking others for too many opinions.
The concept of "art career" is just too vague
Still, it's true that getting some proper skills can help you find a job around art.
Some people say that art school is a total waste of time since ideas and style ー the mainstay of all creative work ー are not something that can be taught.
If you don't have the skills, you won't be able to get others to appreciate your ideas; you might come up with the best idea in the world, but be forced to give up because you lack the skills to properly express it.
In fact, even if I came up with a genius concept like 30k street racers blasting down a highway, I wouldn't be able to draw it. So I wouldn't.
And even if I could, I probably wouldn't. Anyway, this is to say that lack of skill limits your range of work, so if you want to make a living at drawing, then going to art school to learn the ropes is surely one of the possibilities.
However, what worries me about your message is the vagueness of your vision of an "art career".
It feels like I'm looking at 18-year-old me, and quite honestly, it's painful. I almost wish younger me would just find a job at Samantha Thavasa, or some other job that's as far away as possible from where I stand now.
Instead, I was dreaming to work in a creative field, a concept that's even more out of focus than that of an "art career".
I went to design school, and student demographics couldn't have been more diverse. First, there were those with a clear goal, like becoming designers; then there were those like me who were just generally aiming at some kind of creative work; finally, others with yet another kind of clear vision: those who didn't feel like finding a job right after high school, and at the same time, didn't have the guts to take the entrance exam at a university. In other words, they were only there to delay their entry into society by a couple of years.
People who actually managed to learn some skills were those belonging to the first group.
If you don't have a clear vision of what you want to be, then no matter how much you learn about drawing and coloring, you won't be able to visualize how you're going to use that info. Remember when you were taught factorization or sine-cosine-tangent in high school and you couldn't, for the life of you, figure out when the hell you were even gonna use them in real life? Exactly.
So if you really want to attend art school, at least have a clear idea of what you wanna do before you sign up.
And if you can't come up with a measly job title, there's no way you have a strong enough will to make a living at it ー meaning you should pursue art as a hobby and invest in a more lucrative field of study.
When one aspires to a creative career, their first goal will be to get the job, and the second to become a success story (a TV anime adaptation? A collaboration with TENGA? You decide). The whole part about the job putting food on your table until you're 65 is often overlooked.
But a job has to put food on your table, doesn't it? If you refuse to think about it, or if you can't think of your 65-year-old self still perfecting the lighting of nipple layers for a living, then maybe you should aim for a job that you can picture yourself sticking with well into your 60s.
You're probably wondering: but Curry Zawa, can you picture yourself still doing your thing in your 60s? Of course not. But I can picture myself doing anything else even less.
An art career is where people like me end up, so if you have other options, consider them carefully.
You may think that going to art school will help you make up your mind about your future, but that's quite the detour to make to reach a simple conclusion.
If your decision is based on peer pressure, then think twice.
As long as you keep drawing, you can dream on
Not many people wake up in the morning only to find out that they have become a member of the House of Representatives overnight, but when it comes to drawing, trending on Twitter out of the blue is actually a thing. You might even have an isekai experience where a company contacts you and asks you to draw their PR manga.
It's never too late to dream to make some money with your art; on the other hand, there are academic programs you can only pursue right now, and qualifications you can only obtain by choosing the right path. If you're determined to pursue a certain higher education, then you should prioritize that.
From your message, it seems to me that you're convinced that you can't pursue an art career unless you're ready to give it 110%, but there are actually many people out there that half-ass other jobs and end up using art as a fallback.
And in this crazy industry, those who pick art as a second choice often end up becoming great masters.
If after a 4-year sabbatical you choose the path of academia and eventually find yourself 8 years late with your studies and out of a job, you can always fall back on art. I promise the industry will welcome you with open arms.
After all, there are no qualifications, no exams, no grades, no clear path that will make an artist out of you.
And how can a path be blocked for you if there is no path?
The only way you can cock-block yourself is by quitting art as a whole. If you decide to go on with your studies and keep drawing as a hobby, new paths could open up for you ー so I recommend that you never stop drawing, no matter where life takes you.
Attending art school could help pave the way to an art career, but on the other hand, it might also cut out your other options and you might find yourself out of escape routes.
School is expensive, and although you can do as you please with your own money, if your parents are paying for your tuition you'll feel indebted to them and unable to back out.
If you decide to quit art school and pursue some other career, you'll leave not only yourself but also your parents wondering what the point of that 7500-dollars-a-year tuition was.
I'm speaking from experience: after graduating from design school, I worked an unrelated office job for a very awkward decade.
In other words, the sunk cost fallacy of attending an art school to pursue an art-related job (a career that anyone can half-ass) might end up forcing you to burn bridges you don't want to burn.
Burning bridges could work if there was a particular career you're going for, but with the vague concept of "art career" that you mentioned in your message, I'd recommend following the example of Hansel and Gretel who left a trail of bread crumbs to ensure a way out.
One last (crucial) thing
The naked truth is that I would hate for you to succeed with your art endeavors ー this industry works like a Pop-A-Point pencil: when a lead is pushed in, another one is pushed out.
If you were wondering, yes, I'm deliberately using words like 'Pop-a-Point pencil' that younglings like you could never understand.
Maybe you should just decide for yourself; people that offer you advice often come with malicious intentions.