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Yoko Ono says you don’t need art school to be an artist: Is she right?

Last week world-renowned legend Yoko Ono took to Twitter to reassure creatives that an art school doesn’t define you as an artist. She tweeted,

“You don’t have to go to art school to become an artist.”

On many occasions, we tend to think that institutions hold the key to the gates of success. News flash they don’t. In many ways, scholastic institutions can create a divide between creatives.

That divide might be between those who may look down on artists who don’t have a formal education. No one deserves to belittled because they don’t have a college education or further, that’s just fucked up.

Yoko Ono and Frida Khalo never went to art school but what they did do was paint every day and find ways to enhance their craft. Their passion for creative individuality was their drive, not some formal education.

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Take a page out of Keith Haring’s life story. The activist and artist dropped out of the School of Visual Arts because his teachers wouldn’t give him credit for his art related to social activism.

His defiance against institutional norms would go on to inspire many of his incredible and politicized works.

Another important aspect to becoming a successful creative is studying the works of the masters and brushing up on your art history. Nearly everything that institution will teach you can be found in some library or archive.

Today the Metropolitan Museum of Art blessed us. The historic organization released five decades worth of Met publications on art history. Available online, you can now read, download and search through valuable information that can be used to better your craft. Click here, homie. 

In fact, a lot of museums release archival content.

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Recently,  the Cleveland Museum of Art made 30,000 images from their collection accessible to the public. Last year, Stanford University released thousands of Andy Warhol’s negatives online and in 2017, the Guggenheim Museum shared 200 free art books through their online archive.

Free knowledge is power homie. All you have to do is look for it.

Still, by all means, if you can afford to pay someone to teach you the fundamentals of your craft, please go ahead. For most, though this is an obstacle. Writer and renaissance man Jerry Saltz couldn’t have illustrated this any better.

In agreement to Yoko Ono’s Tweet, Saltz added,

“I’d add that it’s also great to go to art-school – as long as your parents pay or you don’t end up with a big burden of debt…”