“Handsome boys”? Maybe the fact everyone is “soooo arty”? Or could it be the “jungle-themed naked wine parties in the fine art studios?”
It’s a question the protagonist of new Nobrow release Art Schooled struggles to answer. In fact, like many, he rather struggles with art school generally.
The brilliant, funny and at times, rather poignant graphic novel by Jamie Coe is like a sort of two-dimensional, English Todd Solondz film – slightly dark, aching with self-doubt and almost relentlessly awkward.
We meet our star Daniel Stope as he leaves home for art school, shedding his sheltered countyside existence (and sweetly overbearing parents) for a new life in the city.
Coe – himself a graduate of Central Saint Martins – narrates Stope’s progress as he attempts to navigate the treacherous waters that are friends, girls, and of course, art – using hilarious situational episodes that demonstrate that perhaps those years are university aren’t always the golden days they’re painted as.
As the novel progresses, we gain further hilarious insights into the art school characters, divided into types such as “The Overtly Outgoing Student” (identified by items such as an “expensive handbag bought by her very pushy parents” and a “massive book on typography that she memorises”), the Cosplay student, a stoner-type and a hipster. There’s also rather a sweet mature student, who seems prone to giggling, and saying things like “if I were ten years younger”.
We’re sure the observations will ring true with many an art school graduate.
“Our tutor was a nice guy but he always felt the need to say ‘man’ or ‘dude’ to be ‘down with the youth’”, muses Stope.
The aspiring graphic designer doesn’t come off looking too cool, but then, neither do any of Stope’s classmates. When questioned about what the worst thing about art school is, our moustachioed gent answers, “a lack of veracious talent”; our Dalston-esque, shaven-headed girl responds: “tutors. Um…annd all the like hipsters.”
Our would-be graphic designer’s gripe? “The I.T department only has two A3 scanners!”
Art Schooled is published by Nobrow priced £14.99