So Many Art Teachers Just don’t Teach Art

Why Do So Many ART Teachers Refuse To Teach ART?

(50% off, ‘How to Design a Drawing’, details below.)

A boy reading in the wilderness with animals around him


Many Artists learn more from ‘online art courses than in college

I can’t tell you how many artists have told me via Facebook, twitter, YouTube, this blog, email, Skype, etc that they have learned more from online classes like FolioAcademy, SVS and otheres, than they did in four years of Art School at 500 x the price! As much as I’d like to pat myself on the back I won’t. I won’t pretend that I’m doing more than any art teacher should be doing.

How can Artists & illustrators be learning more online than in school?
An owl, a fox, a bear and a moose.
How can this be happening? My theory is that art was never treated as a serious subject in K-12 and as a result students enter college completely unaware of what they need to learn in a visual arts program. “But Will, I had A Few great art teachers in high school” It happens, but quite often, in fact more often, art teachers spend most of their time managing students that were dumped in their classrooms from the counseling dept. – I know – I taught High School art and I was in High School Art.  I believe that a lot of art teachers that don’t teach either never became accomplished in their own work and never learned the rules, or perhaps they’ve simply become lazy and willing to take advantage of the system -a system that pays them just as much for being a great teacher as it pays for being a lousy one. It could also be that they are afraid that they will create clones of themselves who will take away their work – pure nonsense and scarcity thinking. Or maybe they spend too much time babysitting and policing those students that are only there to screw off and cause trouble. Like I say, I was there.

Drama majors, English majors, Music majors, and Dance majors come to college with much more experience than illustration or art majors.

Three Quailis

They come with more experience because in Drama, English, Music, and Dance they are taught rules. You can’t have a school play if the actors are taught to act their “feelings”. Obviously you can’t write a story without learning rules about plots, sub plots, climbing action, climax, falling action, resolution. Not to mention, Language, spelling and of course grammar. You can’t make music if everyone is doing their own “interpretation” of the song and you can’t be an effective dancer without learning “moves” moves that were developed by other dancers.

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The Day of the Teacher: Poster by Will Terry

Speed Painting of the CTA Poster 

Will Terry was commissioned to design, and illustrate the poster.

Will was asked to design a drawing and render some art to celebrate California’s “Day of the Teacher” celebration. He decided to incorporate multiple career choices into the poster and to a city-scape type setting. He also uses color in his beautiful style so it is fun to look at and fun and entertaining to watch.

Here is the speed painting by the semi famous, Will Terry.  Give it a look, it’s only 3 minutes long and set to good music. He says he could play with these shapes all day. But lucky for us, he time-lapsed it so we can watch him in 3 minutes.

Thanks Will for recording this so we can all enjoy your work.


Folio Boys go to So Cal

I am lucky to be Will’s best friend

This video isn’t that great but it is cool to see Will Speaking to Millions of peeps.
Since the California Teachers Association (CTA) loves Will’s artwork for children so much, he has been able to represent the CTA two times so far. So they paid for him and his wife, or if she was too busy or not feeling well or what ever, He was able to take some significant brother. That’s me, Will’s best friend, Wayne. So we loaded up the truck and we went to Beverly, LA that is, swimming pools, movie stars.
Well the next thing you know, Old Will‘s on stage up there, over the weekend he was a celebrity, he got to represent the California Teachers Association again with his Armadilly Chili Book. He had a blast and he even got to say a few words in front of the group. That’s him up there.
I couldn’t believe how they crammed more than a million people in the ballroom.

We SOLD OUT on Saturday afternoon – We couldn’t believe it! Over 500 books! They even made a plush out of Tex the tarantula, – you may still be able to buy it here. Author’s note, Not Terry the tarantula who was slow roasted to death in a jar, but Tex, a character in Armadilly Chili. 

They took very good care of us – too good!

On Sunday we drove down to visit illustrator Steve Gray in Hermosa Beach. He’s a great guy and a decorated illustrator – he won the Grand Canyon Reader award last year for his Coyote book.

Steve uses one of those nifty Cintiq Tablets to render his illustrations. He used to do quite a bit of advertising illustration back in the day and his studio walls are decorated with many impressive and recognizable work.

Pick up a copy and enjoy his wacky drawing and wonderful color and Jennifer Ward’s great story.

You can’t go all the way to the beach without actually getting your feet wet right? I’m the short one on the right.


I guess we weren’t the only ones having a good weekend.

No this is not how we found Will’s wife’s car upon our return, they are still happily married. We saw this car outside of “The Mad Greek” Near Vegas, where we stopped for one last overdose of gluttony on our way home.



Better Get that “ART” Degree So You Can Make Money?

Universities give degrees to who haven’t mastered their craft


Question: Why don’t companies like: Disney, Pixar, Sony, Blizzard, Microsoft, Blue Sky, Mattel, Hasbro, Random House, Harper Collins, Scholastic and Folio Academy hire artists based on whether or not they have a college degree?

Answer: Lets cut to the chase – it’s because colleges and Universities routinely give degrees to students who haven’t mastered their craft. And because many “students” master their craft with out ever getting that “invaluable” certificate of diplomacy. This really isn’t news but I thought I’d briefly write about this so I have a link to send to artists who ask me for advice on what degree they should get? recently an artist wrote to me asking what colleges look the best on a resume for animation studios.

Companies want you portfolio, not your diploma

If a bachelor’s degree in visual arts said anything about the quality of the students pumped out each year, companies would interview and require applicants with BA’s and BFA’s. The truth is that these companies couldn’t care less that you have a degree. They want to see what you can do. They want to look at your portfolio. They also want you to be semi normal but that’s another discussion, don’t eat paint.

BUT Most of the Professional artists Went to School

Most professional illustrators DID go through a University or art school program. While that is true, it doesn’t mean the DIPLOMA is what made them a Pro. Most artists (most people) aren’t motivated enough to impose the rigorous hours of practice necessary or even know what to practice on in order to become a professional. Schools provide an immersion of exposure to mentors, professionals, assignments, markets, networking, methods as well as techniques, history, standards, and philosophies. These introductions can unlock hidden talent, desires and passions the beginning student never knew they had. So ironically, maybe you should go to school (and that could mean everything from University to art school to online classes and tutorials – one or a mixture of them) to get good at your craft but don’t think too much about the certificate you get – nobody is going to ask for it. And they don’t hand out cushy jobs and art careers with the diplomas either.

You do need that degree in order to teach. 

You don’t need a degree to teach, unless you want to teach in a formal setting. The bachelors degree is really only valuable if you want to teach at a public or private school, institution, or college and then you will need a masters degree to top it off. Ironically, the school probably doesn’t care if you can do or if you can teach, they care if you have that “invaluable” certificate of diplomacy. What’s that old saying?

“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

Prov. People who are able to do something well can do that thing for a living, while people who are not able to do anything that well make a living by teaching. (Used to disparage teachers. From George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman.)

And oh yeah – getting a degree WILL make your parents happy.


Giving assemblies on reading and illustrating for picture books

Here is the skinny from Yuba City CA – giving assemblies on reading and illustrating for picture books. This was me barely making it over Donnor Summit before it got really bad.

I gave about 4-5 assemblies each day for 4 days – it was really fun watching kids get excited over my work. It’s hard for me to get a reaction from my own kids – they’ve seen behind the curtain. I love to do school visits.
At the end of each assembly I painted one of my characters in Photoshop on the screen – kids got really quiet watching a drawing come to life.
For some of the older classes I gave some drawing lessons.
We took some goofy pictures…
This is Craig and Leslie Reading – Leslie set up all the schools and made all the arrangements – She did so much to facilitate these presentations – I can’t thank her enough!I also got to visit my sister Beth and her husband Michael. Beth is a famous blogger in the Bay area – her blog: fakeplasticfish talks about living life while using a lot less plastic.

Drawing Inspiration: Will Terry in Yuba

I even made the local paper!

Donner Summit was kind to me on the way back.  😎

Are We Creating Too Many Artists? Teaching ART

By Teaching Others, Are WE Creating TOO MANY Artists?

I AM often asked these questions:

1) Are you worried that you are helping too many artists – that will one day take away your business?

2) Why would you help other people learn and succeed with their art when they will ultimately compete with you and yours in the market place?

3) Aren’t you worried that you will have a bunch of artists copying your style?

Abundance versus Scarcity, A Way of Thinking

I Copied This for School

I Copied This for School

I was happy to finally be able to make this video to explain my position on the abundance mentality vs the scarcity mentality. I would love to know how you feel?


Won’t your students take away YOUR business?

Will the copy cats out there, copy YOUR style and steel all your would be work? Absolutely not, your style is like a fingerprint. Only you can produce it. And I can’t think of anyone who has really gotten anywhere just by completely copying someone else’s style. Many have found their niche or their style by copying that of another or a lot of others. I say that is a good thing.

I will also say that if you have a unique style, like Will’s unique acrylic painting style, and as a lot of leaders and great artists do, and as a lot of unknowns also have, people will copy, and why shouldn’t they? Suppose it is such a cool style, You have mastered, that others start to mimic it or copy it. Good for you, that means something. And what about the market place. As that style becomes popular, there will be more demand for YOUR style of work. And the market is so big that it won’t hurt at all to have others doing similar work.
We talked to a young artist who has a neat and unique style of painting. We invited her to teach an online art course for Folio Academy. She wouldn’t do it because she was afraid that all of you would hurry up and copy her “style” and put her out of business. I believe that IF hundreds of artists, in fact thousands, learned her style and copied her and promoted their work, she would only do better. First of all few if any would nail “her style” and as more and more artists painted like her, that “style” if it is SO good, would become popular and more clients would want it. Creating a much bigger market then she alone could ever fill.

Art Schools MAKE their students “COPY” others.

copy of the Death Dealer

copy of the Death Dealer

Most art schools will have a few assignments where you are to do just that. Copy a masters art work, or that of someone you idolize. I copied a piece by Franz Halls and a piece by my favorite fantasy fiction artist, Frank Frazetta. I learned a lot from it. If you know your history you’ll know that Franz Halls was already dead and I didn’t put Frank Frazetta out of business at all. I probably didn’t promote him much either with my insignificant attempt to mimic his “style”.

Author’s note. I was so proud of how I took the word Forgery, and made it look like Frazetta’s own signature. 

I have seen people sitting in front of great paintings like the Mona Lisa, right there in the Louvre, copying the daylights out of these paintings. I haven’t seen any one mistaken for Leonardo Da Vinci lately. Copy away. Okay, enough of the soap box. Wait, one more thing, Bob Ross was never replaced and all he did was teach “His Style and Techniques”. I’m just sayin.


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Where Are My Freelance ArtJobs?

Will Terry you are a man much wiser than your age. You could not be more right about the times we live in and what we each as both artists and businessmen must do to earn our share of the profits out there. ~Steven Watson

I’v been blessed as an artist but… 

I have been blessed with many connections in the illustration world and many more since I started this blogging a few years back and those connections seem to be growing. Every day I get asked questions related to the freelance illustration markets -from how to improve the craft of illustration to how to find markets and clients and I spend a fair amount of my time answering them. I enjoy this time each day.

I’ve turned down Projects. 

In the past month I have been offered three different freelance projects for publishing companies all of which I turned down due to the lack of budgets. I don’t want to seem ungrateful – beyond the fact that it’s flattering to be wanted – I realize that I’m in a different position than many illustrators since I’ve been at this a while and have spread out my income streams. I defend the right of our clients to offer what’s in their own best interest as we must decide to accept or reject based on our best interests. Some people complain about the price of a water bottle at the gas station…but they don’t have to buy it. But it’s the latest offering that I wanted to discuss.

While art ed is still costly, Commissions are dropping.

If you’ve gone through an illustration program on a University or art school level you know that illustration rates have either stayed the same over the last 100 years or gone down. The offering I received this week was half of what I used to get paid from that particular client. This made it very easy to turn down but that’s not the point. The point is that what I’ve been saying (see my “Tips for Illustrators” blog posts) is coming true. Prices that have at least “held” for decades are now going the other direction. We are competing on a global scale at many levels. With the ability for individual artists to publish their own music, books, videos, etc the big companies are having to adapt to the competition. It’s one reason entertainers like Jimmy Kimmel are releasing anonymous videos on youtube (like twerking girl catches on fire) to generate traffic back to his show. And have you seen the new “Cary” ad? My favorite prank yet. Our clients – the people we want to hire us are suffering from the noise just like we are – they are competing with us when we release our own products.

but wait, there’s more. Continue reading


Teaching art was scary at first

I’ve been teaching on and off now for the past 20 plus years. At first I was petrified. In fact I really feel sorry for the first students I had back in the early 90’s at BYU – I wasn’t very good at my craft which caused my teaching to suffer. I hadn’t put in enough time to formulate my opinions about image creation. 

Be committed to your students and your Art craft. 

Fast forward to the present – boy am I glad I didn’t quit after those first few teaching experiences! I strongly believe in exposure therapy. Afraid to skydive? Go skydiving, still afraid? Go a bunch of times. Afraid of a tax audit? Good you should be, don’t mess with the IRS. But,  I really believe that if you’re committed to helping your students learn it will improve your understanding of the subject 10 fold – especially in a subjective subject like art.

The Process

You do something that’s working in your painting. You have to explain it to someone else. You have to formulate words to describe your process. You hear your own words like you’ve never heard them before. You make a stronger connection. You make other connections with other principles. You now have to live by those principles for accountability to your students. Your art making improves. Apply, Rinse & repeat.

Making a difference in the lives of others is priceless.

But it doesn’t stop there. Because as you help someone else attain the satisfaction you have gained you are rewarded emotionally as well. The connections are so much a part of the teaching. Feeling like you can make a difference in the lives of others is priceless. I have made many friends over the years from some of my former students- and can you have too many friends?
And it doesn’t stop there either because it has helped me heal. I’ve talked about my horrible public school experience as a child on my other blog in the past so I won’t go into it again – but finding what you’re good at and feeling valuable doing it has been very therapeutic.I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it has been to teach at UVU and be able to start Folio Academy with Wayne Andreason and now SVS with Jake Parker. To be able to dream up a class and offer it online is such an amazing turn for me. When we get together the ideas just start flowing and we think of all kinds of classes. Early next year we plan to offer a  “Luminous Color & Light” class. You can check out our Digital Painting class here.

My suggestion to artists:

Start by mentoring another artist or volunteer at a community art program. Donate your time at various art events and offer pointers. Work to learn. You’ll be amazed at how it will inspire you to want to create more…and you might find yourself teaching at an institution or online sometime down the road. The world is getting connected and if you embrace it – it will embrace you.