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  • Writer's pictureJenny Lu

Review: 4 Reasons Why the Academy of Art University is A Good Art School

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

By Jenny Lu | 29 April 2021

Attending the San Francisco Academy of Art University is a life-changing experience that I’m forever grateful for and will never forget.

As one of those art lovers who developed a great passion for art at a young age, I was determined to become a professional artist at age fifteen. I got into the best art middle school in my city to hone my crafts. However, I had never found one teacher who could fully explain how to draw and paint until I attended the San Francisco Academy of Art University. Today I am sharing with you four reasons why Academy of Art University is a good art school and discussing its expensive tuition fee.


I was not paid or endorsed by the San Francisco Academy of Art University to promote them. I’ve used my own experience as a BFA Illustration student to write this review post.

Solid Foundation Classes

The Academy of Art University provides solid foundation classes that will eventually change the way you see the world. The systematic syllabus is designed to give you the artistic crafts you always wanted to have. If you are willing to put in hours and hours of hard work and effort, these foundation classes will allow you to achieve the highest level of craftsmanship that you want. It all depends on how hard you work.


The Academy of Art University provides a wealth of great workshops free for students to attend. As an illustration major, I know that they provide many painting and drawing workshops such as figure drawing, figure painting, clothed figure drawing, printmaking, illustration, and digital painting workshops.

As a student who wishes to achieve solid drawing and painting skills, I’ve managed to attend all the workshops, from Monday to Saturday. I scheduled all the 8:20 classes so that I would be able to participate in all kinds of workshops, which are generally in the afternoon from 3:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

It’s stressful to do both schoolwork and workshop practice simultaneously. You might not have enough time to do homework. But I promise you that it’s worth it in the long term. Because once you have solid fundamental drawing and painting skills, your art-making process will become faster and more efficient. One of the greatest things about workshops is learning different concepts and techniques from individual teachers. Usually, you will only receive ideas from one specific teacher when you register for a drawing class. That’s why it’s so good to go to workshops. Another good thing about workshops is that you get to meet and talk to people from different majors and classes. It’s a great place to meet amazing students and make connections. The workshop is the place where all the magic happens! Additionally, each semester, the School of Illustration Department will hold a Costume Carnival event in the Powell Building. It is a free event for every student at the Academy of Art University. Make sure you plan your schedule ahead of time to attend this fantastic drawing event. There will be 5 to 10 models dressed in different costumes for students to draw.

If you are lucky, you will see my clothed figure drawing instructor, Thomas Gronbukt, drawing along with students. He is so good. You can learn so much by just looking at how he draws.

These drawing and painting workshops are the resources you should take advantage of while in school. Besides, these terrific workshops are undoubtedly one of the benefits of going to the Academy of Art University.

Great Teachers

If you ever wondered: “Can art be taught?”. The answer would be YES. If you are talking about the techniques and the fundamental art principles, the San Francisco Academy of Art University is the school to go. The Academy of Art has some of the most outstanding teachers, who will pass down all the knowledge you need to become skillful.

To name a few great teachers that you don't want to miss if you are a BFA Illustration major student, Adam Caldwell for Analysis of Form and Figure Drawing, David Choong Lee for Analysis of Form, Chuck Pyle for Studio 1, Julie Downing for Studio 2, Shari Warren for Illustration for Consumer Products & Licensing, Thomas Gronbukt for Clothed Figure Drawing and Water Media: Watercolor, Acrylic and Gouache, Joko Budiono for Perspective and Advanced Perspective, Gary Amaro for Location Drawing and Painting.

The classes mentioned above are just a few examples of the fantastic courses that I consider life-changing! Additionally, one of the most important things for you to do before registering for a class is to find out who is the best teacher. You don’t want to pay the same amount of money without getting the most out of the courses. These great faculty members in the Academy of Art University are definitely the most important aspects that make it a good art school.

The School is Located in San Francisco

The Academy of Art has different school buildings, all located in downtown San Francisco. I enjoy walking from one school building to another, so I can slow down and enjoy the view of this beautiful city. One of the best classes I’ve taken is Location Drawing and Painting. It is taught by Gary Amaro, who is an extraordinary urban sketcher. Thanks to this class, I get to draw and observe some of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco, such as Crissy Field, Fisherman’s Wharf, SF MOMA, China Town, AT & T Stadium, Ferry Building, Legion of Honor, de Young Museum, Palace of Fine Art and Coit Tower. Sketching outdoors allows you to really observe the world around you. The best part of the location drawings and paintings is to be in the moment. It’s also one of the best ways to hone your craftsmanship because it is one of the most challenging art practices. If you nail it on drawing from life, you could apply things you learn from Mother Nature, including colors, composition, design, perspective, etc., to your art. So don’t forget to keep a sketchbook with you wherever you go and draw, draw more, and draw some more! Besides, San Francisco is a beautiful city that you will never get tired of drawing.

Cons: Expensive Tuition

If I need to mention one downside of the Academy of Art University, it would probably be the costly tuition fee. Many of my friends aren’t able to pay the tuition. So they need to have one to two part-time jobs while they are at school, which is not always the glorious side of attending an expensive private art school.

However, the Academy of Art will give you solid foundational skills if you are willing to do your level best, and the experience and all the fundamental skills are worth the tuition fee for me.

Is the Academy of Art A Good Fit for You?

If you are one of those students who can already draw and paint like Rembrandt and Sargent, I think the illustration and the fine art department at the Academy of Art University might not be your best choice. It’s fantastic that you already have solid foundation skills. Now, you might want to head in another direction, develop your critical artistic thinking, and create concrete and influential work, which involves knowing how to break all the art principles. Remember, you have to know all the rules before you break them. Pablo Picasso is one great example. He could draw and paint like Raphael at his early age.


Is the San Francisco Academy of Art University a good art school? Is it worth it to go?

It is where you can meet enthusiastic students who are as passionate about art as you are. You will also meet incredible instructors who are experts in their fields and committed to teaching art principles that will forever be a treasure for your artistic journey.

My answer is yes. It is a great art school for people who want to hone their crafts and receive solid fundamental skills before they know how to break all the rules. It would help if you had all the knowledge and tools to guide you sailing in the great ocean of dreams.

If you are interested in learning more about the student’s life in the Academy of Art, you can click here. You can also click here to check out my friend’s Youtube channel to get more information on the School of Illustration Department. I hope you find this review post on why the Academy of Art University is a good art school helpful, and I wish you all the best in the quest.

Happy creating, Jenny


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