Monday, February 28, 2011

Why you shouldn't get your art design degree in Japan

My students admired me to have a chance to study in Japan and I used to have this dream of coming here to pursue an education in comics and animation. But after actually attending the Japanese language school here, I now know that dream and reality is totally different.


-為何不該來日本修美術設計-
我的學生之前都很羨慕我有機會來日本唸書。我從青少年時代也很嚮往來日唸動漫的課程。不過在這裡上完一年的日語課程以後,發現夢想和現實是完全不同的。
(中文版在下)




Japanese is essential
First of all, to study in any art university in Japan, most will require you to obtain a JLPT level 1 certificate. That's because many, if not all of the art professors, do not understand English well and can only speak Japanese. If you're really desperate and insist to come here, I would highly recommend that you enter into a Japanese school for 1-1.5 years to brush up your Japanese and then apply.

But wait, that's not all! There's the grand entrance exams!
To get into any renowned Japanese art university is definitely not easy. Typical university entrance exam are 3 steps: document screening (with essays), written exam and interview. But for art, it is more than that, you'll have to go through...
1) Document screening of all transcripts, certs, recommendation letters, written essays, etc. +
2) Portfolio submission.
3) If you pass the above, then you can receive the invitation to sit in their written exam that consists of short essay questions +
4) technical drawing/design test.
5) Then finally an interview.
Everything will be in Japanese only. So many steps and requirements for what???

Would I recommend coming to Japan for your art education?
No. Not just because of the language hurdle, but also many art professors insist their students to follow their direction and style. So I find that USA, UK or Aussie will be much better candidates. For those  prestigious art universities located within/near Tokyo, lecturers tend to be more cocky and this is one thing I cannot stand, arrogant people. On top of that, they were all men. I could feel gender bias and being looked down upon, just because I am a foreign female student with weak Japanese.

So what will I be studying?
English MBA. I came to this decision after analyzing many art universities and attending their open houses. The art professors always tell me that I need to improve my Japanese and most of them were extremely cocky. So I studied Japanese very hard but at the end of day, do I need superb Japanese to be successful? I beg to differ. It is ultimately your work and how you market that will matter, aside from lots of luck.

Moreover, for comics, let's face it, I'll never be as good as their native speaker. So instead of wasting my time to churn out natural Japanese dialogues, I might as well study how the freelance comic artists here earn a living and build their brand to attract fans.

Getting into an English course would also mean higher chances that the Japanese professors, who conduct English classes, have vast overseas experience, hence more likely to be more open-minded than those cocky art professors with overseas degree.

But if you must risk your life to come, here are the recommendations
1) Tokyo University of the Arts, aka. Geidai: It is the most prestigious art university in Japan. However to get in is near impossible for foreigners. Your Japanese has better be damn damn good.

2) Tamabi: A school with okay-reputation, still well-known locally but not as much overseas. It is located at the outskirts of Tokyo. Another equivalent but better well-known school would be Musashino Art University.

*Update 6 June, 2013: A Singaporean friend got into this school by coming here for an interview and holding a MEXT scholarship acceptance letter. Although entrance procedures can be processed in English, there was still an interview to make sure she could understand some Japanese because all classes are conducted in Japanese.

3)  Musashino Art University: All professors that I'd met were men and super cocky. If you're a guy, by all means, try this school. This university is well-known locally and overseas, hence the arrogance.

4) Joshibi Art University: I went to their campus outside Tokyo, in a countryside like setting. Their teachers were much more approachable than those universities above. But this school is not as well-known. Because of that, it may be easier to pass their entrance exams. Their undergrad department is only for girls and only the grad department is open for guys.

5) Keio University (KMD-Keio Media Design): My cousin studied PHD here and a few Singaporeans graduated from the masters program too. The school is included in the Global 30 program and so classes are conducted in English. One of their components includes the business aspect, so I had a hard time choosing between KMD or Waseda Business School. I chose Waseda in the end because I wanted to focus on marketing.

Although many foreigners had made it into art universities, I am one of those who see no point in studying Japanese so hard, just to get a further education here. You'll be better off in other countries to practice your art and design without the language hurdle. However if you insist to come, Japan has a lot of innovative products and beautiful package designs to drool at. But make sure you'll have an excellent command of Japanese and lots and lots of cash to burn here.

日語是必備的
首先,很多大學都至少需要日本語能力試驗(JLPT)1級。因為大多數的美術老師都不會講英語,只會說日語。假如你真的非來不可,那我建議先進一所日語語言學校,把日語唸好了以後才報考大學。

麻煩的入學考試
要進入任何知名的日本美術大學是不容易的。普通的大學是3個步驟:文件審查(包括寫一些文章),筆試和面試。不過美術課程的話,就得經過...
1) 成績單,文憑,推薦書,文章等的文件審查+
2) 個人作品
3) 以上通過後,才邀請你參加短篇文章的筆試+
4) 繪圖/設計測試
5) 最後才面試
全部都以日語進行。這麼多步驟和要求是為了什麼啊!???

我會介紹來日學美術嗎?
不會。因為除了有語言障礙,很多美術教授都會要求學生跟著自己的風格和意見走。所以我覺得要學美術,漫畫或動畫的話,去美國,英國或澳洲會更好。那些在東京內或附近的美術大學教授都相當地高傲,這點是我非常受不了的。而且,再加上他們都是男教授,我有一種被性別歧視的感覺。只因為我是一個日語不好的外國女生。即使英語好,作品也好的話根本沒用!

如今我已拿到JLPT1級了,証明我的爛日語是可以進步的。不過即使如此,我絕不後悔當初沒報考美術大學。

那我到底在日本唸什麼?
英語的MBA。我是參加很多美術大學的說明會才決定轉讀商科的。每次和漫畫老師或設計系的老師面談的時候,他們都很高傲的說我的日語得進步。所以我埋頭苦唸日語。可是一定需要一流的日語來成功嗎?我覺得除了運氣以外,自己的作品和銷售手法才是成功的關鍵。

況且,漫畫的對白得必須非常自然。即使我的日語再好,也遠遠不比日本人強。與其浪費時間在修日語和寫對白,不如好好地研究日本自費出版的漫畫家是如何賺錢和打響知名度的。

除此之外,以英語教書的老師都似乎比較有外國經驗,應該會比較虛心一點吧?總比只在外國拿到文憑的高傲美術老師好。

雖然有很多外國人都成功的進入美術大學,可是我覺得只為了在日本深造就死拼日語是沒有意思的。與其到一個沒有語言障礙的國家專心搞好自己的作品和行銷才是上上策。但是假如真的非來不可的話,日本有很多希奇古怪的產品和美麗的包裝設計來欣賞。不過你一定要有很流利的日語和很多很多錢才行!


6 comments:

  1. Wow.... Thanks for all these information. I believe the road you travel will bring you to a greater place somewhere in the future. Seems really a super duper tough industry to break into as a foreigner, especially the fact that you're only studying and it's already a killer ...

    Hope everything is fine!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nicky: I'm only studying Japanese here, but I think to break through into the already tight competitive comics market in Japan is quite difficult for foreigners. Unless maybe if I make it as an English conversation aid series or something :P

    Everything will be fine bah, my target is not the Japanese market but the global market :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah man~~! the world is sooooooo big, we can start anyway right! ^_^
    But this post really is an insight on the jap art uni.

    ReplyDelete
  4. hui: An even bigger insight in my latest post!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Eva,

    happened to chance upon your blog and reading through some of your articles, u seem to be giving up the fight. Its true that they( prof) are chauvinist and all but i still think you should have enrolled in an art school doing manga. The whole point of schooling is to push yourself beyond what you can do. I wonder how useful that english mba will be here and worldwide unless its a waseda, keio or tokyo u degree. just some thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Bin,

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I don't have any problems with drawing skills, it's just the stories and ideas are hard to grab, so I don't think it would be useful to enter into an art school again to learn how to draw manga. In fact, contrary to the typical belief that artists should concentrate on his art only, I believe artists should pick up some business skills as well, to aid our own marketing and stand a better chance to succeed than just having art talent. Of course, if the artist is lucky enough to have an agent to help market his work, that's great, but not everyone is fortunate enough to have them and people like me, have to depend on ourselves :)

    ReplyDelete

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