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Art School Confidential: A Retrospective

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Everyone likes to think that they’re perfectly unique, but according to the cult classic 2006 film “Art School Confidential,” and its 1991 comic predecessor of the same name, we all fall into some stereotypical category. Ironically enough, a Pratt diploma hangs on a wall in one of the comic’s frames, and Daniel Clowes, the author and illustrator, is a proud Pratt alumnus. So did he get it right? 


According to Clowes, there are a number of art school archetypes: The Neurotic Art Girls, Has-Been Professors, the Macho-Art Sadists, Talentless Rich Guys, the ‘Mom’ and so on. The real question is: Has it changed at all? It has been almost 30 years since the comic was penned, and by either miracle or curse, Pratt has not burned down (completely) in that time. 


I think Clowes was pretty spot on with the “ego driven rich kids,” and “men who use art as an excuse to put women in uncomfortable/submissive circumstances,” but beyond that, his archetypes need a bit of an update. It’s 2020, and not only has Pratt added to its curriculum, but the cultural conscience has changed quite a bit.


So I submit to the annals of Art School History a new set of The People You Meet At Art School: The Tarantin-bro—a film major who cites exclusively male-directors as their inspiration. The Communist Writer—“I’m not published because the publishing industry is a capitalist nightmare.” The 2D Furry—do I really have to explain this one? Doomed To Disney—every 3D animator whose soul is bound to Disney/Pixar and they know it. The Disappeared—the architecture student who you meet once and then never see again as they fade into the halls of Higgins. 


These are just a few for now. But there is one category that we all fall into: We all go to this fucking school. The art school cult of personality sits within us all. We don’t belong anywhere but here because the only real art school archetype is a person who is passionate about their work and made the hard decision to pursue a life in the arts rather than live in the comfortable drudgery of the ‘real world.’ So, Daniel Clowes and his inability to get laid in college can fuck off, we’ll only make it out of here if we act like the community that we know we are.

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Illustration by Sude Kurban


written by
Parker Sublette
April 6, 2020