How I Ended Up At Art School

Before I was in high school I didn’t even realize art was a career. I don’t even know if I knew anything about the masters. I’m sure I heard of them, I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, after all, but I don’t know if I realized that was their actual job.

I hit high school thinking I would take all the hard classes and let my nerd flag fly.  Luckily, we had to take a quarter of art and my teacher wanted me to sign up for his full class the next year.

An adult telling me I was good at something and wanting me to take their class???? Call me Sonic the Hedgehog because I zoomed my way into that art class.

I decided I wanted to be an artist. I even had the two schools picked out, the American Academy of Art or THE Art Institute of Chicago.

I started taking some outside classes and worked really hard on a portfolio. I went to college day and waited in line for at least an hour and a half with my Grandma and my high school boyfriend to hear what the Gods at THE Art Institute had to say.

They literally just told me I needed better paper and I should get it from Dick Blick. I did get it from Dick Blick. I thought their silence on my work just meant it was so bad they couldn’t find anything nice to say about it. Frankly, that still could have been the case. I haven’t seen any of the drawings since then.  Crushed, I thought, that’s it. There’s no way I can be an artist now.

I left thinking I would just do something else and I tried a few things out. Little did I know rejection is just the first step to awesome.

Fast forward to when I was 23. I did a drawing and showed my co-worker. She was so excited she wanted to sell prints on the Magnificent Mile. That boosted my confidence and we happened to talk with temps from an ad agency every day. I talked it over with one and he explained the differences between THE Art Institute and the Academy and I made my decision pretty much right there. I went and looked at the Institute just to make sure, but I’d already known, if I was going to art school, it was the Academy.

After a quick interview, I was accepted. Although, I didn’t know it until after orientation when they called to ask why I wasn’t there. I’d moved and my acceptance letter was never forwarded. Thanks, Chicago Postal System.

The rest is history. Or at least another blog post. If it wasn’t for my co-worker’s support and excitement and a chance job which put me in contact with artists, I may never have gone to art school.

About Elisha

Elisha Dasenbrock is an award winning, international watercolor artist. She paints with a limited palette on claybord. Dasenbrock graduated from the American Academy of Art in 2009 and has been painting professionally ever since.