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Interview: First-hand Experience From the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Photo credit: Irène S.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is distinct in its interdisciplinary and rigorous curriculum that allows its students to broaden their skill sets and interests. It is well-reputed and placed amongst the best art schools in the QS world ranking and identified by Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism survey as “the most influential art college in the United States.”

Theodore Schweiger is a first-year student at SAIC who was nice enough to share more on what it is like to go there!

Before we begin, could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Theodore Schweiger, and I’m from Shanghai, China, although I have also lived in Minneapolis and San Francisco. I enjoy drawing, watching Ted Talks and designing tattoos. I draw a lot of personal inspiration from Bob Dylan and my mom.

What is your favorite part about going to SAIC?
I love how accepting the environment is: everyone can do whatever they want, dress however they want and be whoever they want to be. Compared to my Chinese high school’s strict view of academia, this was a great change of pace, and I look forward to returning next fall. SAIC also provides its students with free passes to the Art Institute of Chicago and public transportation!

Could you tell us about what you’re studying?
The majors at SAIC are designed so as to be fully customizable by each student, and I am most interested in illustration and photography.

What are the pros and cons of living in Chicago?
I love how easy it is to get around the city, and the architecture and general feel of the city are incredibly unique. However, Chicago is one of the more dangerous cities in America, and there seems to be at least one alarm going on at all times, which can make one feel unsafe! It was also really cold this winter.

Art Institute of Chicago, taken by Irène S.

What is the social scene of SAIC like?
It’s really great! There are plenty of shows and get-togethers for students to feel welcome, and everyone there is really accepting.

How’s the dorm situation?
The rooms are big and comfortable with their own kitchens and bathrooms and can house between 1 and 3 students. There are also a lot of opportunities in the area to live off-campus.

How was the application process to SAIC?
It was pretty simple: a standard application on CollegeBoard and a portfolio submission. So as long as you fill a portfolio or have the means to make one quickly, the application process shouldn’t be too hard!

How are the professors?
The professors are all really open-minded, although some do enforce strict expectations on their students.

How has your experience been so far at SAIC?
So far I’ve had a pretty good experience, although I started in spring semester, so that made things a little tougher. Next semester will be better, because I will get to choose my studio courses.

What advice would you give to any upcoming SAIC students?
Surround yourself with new media and experiment all the time, and keep a little notebook of ideas for things to draw in case you get artist’s block later.

You can follow Theo’s art Instagram here.

Photo Courtesy of Irène S.

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Written by Irène Schrader

Irène was born and raised in Paris, France to an Eurasian family. She spends most of her time making music, writing essays, and teaching children English. She enjoys traveling, reading books, and going to museums.