Dear Freshman, this art college is the place for you

Posted by Jessica Steigelman on Jun 4, 2015, 2:55:00 PM

Thank you to Jessica Steigelman, a member of the recently graduated PCA&D Class of 2015, for writing these tips to help make our incoming class make the most of their time preparing for their life in art. Jessica earned her BFA degree in Illustration and is from Douglassville, PA.


Dear Freshman,

Pennsylvania College of Art and Design is a great place for you to prepare for a life in art but there’s a few things you should know before you come into this college.


1.) The Water Way Effect

The first few years at this school will not be focusing on what you want to do, but rather this time is used to help you experiment and find what niche of art you really want to explore. Try your best to keep an open mind as you test the waters, maybe you’ll like Digital art more than traditional? Maybe you’re actually a fine artist instead of an illustrator? There’s endless possibilities and PCA&D is here to help you figure everything out!

2.) Work load? More like supply load!

Art work may be fun but it sure does require a lot of supplies. Make sure you have a large backpack that is comfortable and a few bags you don’t mind getting dirty (because things do spill). It also helps a lot if you invest in getting a cart of some kind to assist you in carrying canvases and portfolios to school. Please make sure they are collapsible because we don’t have a cart parking lot available.

3.) Critiques are your friends, not your enemies.


I’m sure your work is amazing, how else did you get here? But it’s not perfect yet. Critiques are what helps an artist get better and understand the viewpoints of others. Critiques are not meant to hurt your feelings nor are they really anything about you personally. Critiques are meant to help you grow, so please keep that in mind when you’re standing there while the teacher or your classmates tell you if there’s something just a little off about your work. Critiques are an artist’s BEST FRIEND!

4.) Research, Research, and Research!

I know you’re just starting out but it helps a great deal when you start researching other artists and getting an understanding of what the market is like. We have classes and teachers that assist in this category but it’s always more fun when you get to go crazy and explore the internet without any guidance. Make an influence board (or a few) and hang them up everywhere in your room. Make a list of personal goals that you want to meet as you continue your college journey. Does your favorite artist work well in Photoshop while you work in Illustrator? Take a few moments and try things out, maybe you’ll like something else more. Knowledge is a gift you earn through research!

5.) Geez buddy slow down!

College is tough, I won’t lie to you, and it’s only going to get harder as you go on. It’s important to make friends and take some breaks here and there. Socialize when you can and with as many different people as you can. I know college work is important but so is your stress level. Take a walk, play a video game, watch your favorite movie, do whatever you can when you can; take a nice break and not feel overwhelmed. If you’re worried about how a piece is coming along, a break can help give you a new view point of your piece when you return to it. Don’t get overwhelmed, you can do it!


I know you’ll do well here at PCA&D, you have the smarts and the talents to become an amazing artist. Don’t let anything stop you from being who you are and don’t be afraid to experiment. You can do it.



Future Self


Thank you to Jessica Steigelman, a member of the recently graduated PCA&D Class of 2015, for writing these tips. Jessica earned her BFA degree in Illustration and is from Douglassville, PA. Jessica, we wish you all the best as you embark on your life in art!



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