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Clara Lieu, Visual Artist

Ask the Art Professor

“Ask the Art Professor” is an advice column for visual artists, featured regularly in the Huffington Post. This is your chance to ask a professional artist/educator your questions about being an artist, the creative process, career advice, etc. Submit your question by emailing me at clara(at)claralieu.com. All questions will be posted anonymously, and you’ll receive notification when your question is online.

On college portfolio preparation:
“What are common mistakes in college portfolio submissions?”
“What should you include in an art portfolio for art school or college?”

On art school and degrees:
“What is the purpose of a degree in fine art?”
“How do you preserve your artistic integrity within the strict time limitations in an academic setting?”
“Is art education really so popular in western countries?”
“Should art students study abroad even if it distracts from job preparation?”
“Who should you make art for, yourself or your professor?

“7 tips for surviving art school.”
“How can I prepare myself for the reality of the future?”
“To what extent do grades define an academic career in visual art?”
“Should I drop out of art school?”

On graduate school:
“Is graduate school worth it?”
“How are European MFA degrees viewed in the United States?”

“How do I choose a field for graduate school?”
“How do I find the right graduate school for fine arts?”

On life after school:
“What do you do after you’ve finished formalized training?”
“When you have a fine arts degree, what do you do for the rest of your life?”

What is your advice to young students who have just graduated from their undergraduate degree?”
“How do you stay motivated after school?”

On technique and skills:
“How can I tell if I’m skilled enough?”
“How do you find your own individual style?”
“How do artists manage to get their soul out into images?”
“How do you develop an idea from a sketch to a finished work?”
“How do you make an art piece more rich with details that will catch the eye?”
“How do you learn the basics?”
“Is it bad to start another piece of art before finishing another one?”
“How do you work in a series?”
“When and how should you use photo references to draw?”

“How do you know when to stop working?”

On abstraction:
“How can I approach creating abstract art?”
“Does an abstract artist need to be proficient in traditional techniques?”

On painting & color:
“How do you achieve a luminous effect in a painting through color and value?”
“Does painting what you see limit your artistic possibilities?”
“What is the practical meaning of color theory?”
“How do you compose a striking painting with color?”
“Is hard work and experimenting continuously such a bad thing?”

"What can a painting student do to be relevant in a digital world?"

On drawing:
“What is a gesture drawing?”
“Is drawing considered an innate talent or a craft, which can be learned by anyone?”
“How can I learn to shade objects in my drawings?”
“How can I draw what I see in my head?”
“What is the best way to practice my drawing skills?”
“How do you get yourself to practice drawing?”
“What is the most important mindset a student needs to have in order to create a successful drawing?”

On drawing the human figure:
“How would I go about studying the human figure?”
“How do you draw the human face?”
“How can I learn to draw noses?”
“What is the best way to simplify the human figure?”
“How can you learn to draw hair?”

On careers:
“How do I change careers to pursue my passion for art?”
“What are the career opportunities in fine art?”
“How long did it take you to jump start your career after graduation?  What was your first job?”
"Should I pursue a career in fine art?"

On promotion:
“How do you know when your artwork is good enough to show to the world?”
“How do you get people to notice your artwork online?”
“When is it too early to start promoting your work on the Internet?”
“How do you retain the integrity of your artwork while promoting it?”
“How do you get to the top of the art world?”

“How can I get into art exhibitions?”
“Is the Internet necessary to being a successful artist?”

On illustration:
“How do I become a children’s book illustrator?”
“Can I make a respectable income on freelance illustration?”
“Where is a good place to start with graphic novels?”
“What does it take to get a job at an animation studio?”

On selling your art:
“How can an artist bypass galleries and sell directly to their audience?”
“How do you sell your art?”

On galleries & museums:
“How do I leave my gallery?”
“How do I approach a gallery?”
“How do museums select artists to exhibit? What is museum quality work?”
“How do I know I’m ready to start selling and approaching galleries?”

On doubt:
“Am I actually an artist?”
“How can one regain lost satisfaction with their work?”
“How do you gain confidence in your artwork?”
“Do professional artists doubt their abilities?”

On learning:
"How do you keep pushing yourself to get to that next level?"
"Would you improve more if you took art classes than just studying on your own?"
"How do you break out of your comfort zone?"
"How do you get out of thinking you can't get any better?"
"How do you develop patience for learning curves?"
"When do you let go of an idea?"
"How do I help my daughter reach her potential in art?"

On getting started:
"Where do I start?"
"How do you learn the basics?"
"How do I get started making my art again?"

On teaching:
“How do I become an undergraduate art professor?
“What should I be working on now if I would like to be an art professor?”
“What makes a student artist stand out from their peers?”
“How did you become an art professor?”

“How do I become a teaching assistant?”
“How can I make the transition to teaching art at the college level?”
"Can a math teacher become an art teacher?"

On life:
“How much of your emotional life do you allow to infiltrate your work?”
“How do you face artistic burnout?”
“How do you come up with ideas?”

On finances:
“How can an artist overcome their financial issues?”
“How do you explain to potential clients that artists need to be paid?”

On practical matters:
“What do you do for art storage?”
“How can an artist balance their life?”
“How can an artist create an artistic group outside of school?”

“How do you balance a full-time job, kids and your own art?”
“How do you socialize in the art world?”

Other:
“What is the most important thing you can do as an artist?
“Does being an artist require much more thinking than in other academic fields?”
“What is the difference between fine arts and visual arts?”
“Will negative stereotypes about artists ever go away?”
“Is photography art?”
“What would you be looking for if you were judging for an art scholarship?”