Bangalore-based author and entrepreneur, wonders if a formal education is imperative to excel in the field of arts
Any way you look at it, a list comprising Chetan Bhagat, Russel Crowe, JK Rowling, John Grisham, Robin Cook, James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino includes successful and creative people of our times. Add some legends to the list - Srinivasa Ramanujam, Kishore Kumar, Leonardo Da Vinci, Arthur Conan Doyle, Gustav Eiffel and Arthur C Clarke, and you have an overwhelming list of creative minds.
Their aggregated educational qualifications are interesting: an engineer and management graduate, two doctors of medicine, a lawyer, a French language major, a signal technician in the armed forces, a structural engineer, and most others either high school dropouts or without a formal 'certificate' education.
All these personalities share a significant characteristic ? autodidacts ? people who were mostly self-taught and did not receive formal 'certificate' education for the art form in which they excelled.
Is it provocative to postulate that greatness in artistic endeavour is possible without formal education in the same skill? While everyone in the list pursued their calling when they found it, for me, the key is the path they chose to get there. The first category comprises people who did not attempt formal education at all, but got into the art form of their interest, soaked in the multifarious experience while waiting for the right opportunity.
Artists in the second category first took up conventional education due to societal / family pressure or simply because their artistic calling was nebulous. Chetan Bhagat, J K Rowling, John Grisham, Robin Cook, Arthur Conan Doyle, Karl Marx, Gustav Eiffel and Arthur C Clarke trod this path. Interestingly, some of them adapted their formal education knowledge to further their artistic pursuit ? Robin Cook with medical knowledge, John Grisham with legal experience. Perhaps, it may also have been easier for them to take the artistic leap of faith because of the perception of security their conventional education offered them.
This pursuit of artistic happiness continues. You will find a fair sprinkling of graphic and web designers attempting to make it into this profession on the back of their natural sense of aesthetic and proficiency in use of computer art tools alone. I have worked with two self-taught graphic artists who were intuitively brilliant and whose absence of formal training helps them create refreshingly different designs.
There is a plethora of new writers in India: Author Amish's journey from a management graduate to banker to a full-time author is well-known, Dipen Ambalia quit his corporate job to write-full time and he is already three books old.
Finally, while the choice of the path is an individual call, it is useful to know the road taken by the others before us.