Thursday, September 21, 2023

Best Art Schools in the World - Top 10 Art Schools of 2023


These are the Top 10 schools if you aspire to work in the Entertainment Industry, which encompasses animation, video games, movies, or theme parks, specializing as a concept artist, illustrator, or visual developer. The rankings for these art schools are determined based on factors such as student work, job placement percentage, value (cost-to-benefit ratio), and reputation (the presence of alumni in the industry).

There are numerous ranking lists available, including:

However, I strongly disagree with these lists. You can visit the school's websites and assess the student work for yourself to determine if a school truly deserves the title of the #1 art school. The truth is apparent to everyone, much like the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes. These rankings may be more inclined toward abstract and contemporary art museums. The schools I present here cater to those interested in commercial art—creating realistic, representational art for use in movies, games, and related industries.

Types of Art Education

Before delving into the top art schools, it's essential to understand that there are three primary types of art education:

Art Schools

Art schools are what most people typically associate with an art education. They offer an immersive experience, with students taking 4-5 art classes per semester. Skilled teachers provide guidance to help build a solid foundation in art. You'll be fully immersed in the world of art, surrounded by like-minded individuals who will become your friends and peers. However, it's worth noting that tuition costs can be steep, often reaching around $200,000. But fret not, as having an outstanding portfolio can unlock significant scholarship opportunities.


For those seeking a more affordable option, universities with strong art programs, particularly state schools, could be an excellent choice. Here, you can balance a comprehensive education with your passion for art, all while interacting with students from diverse backgrounds and majors. However, universities may limit you to 1-2 art classes per semester, with a focus on conceptual thinking rather than practical execution. Nevertheless, they offer a wide range of majors and innovative hybrid programs, providing unique opportunities.

Private Art Academies

Private art academies are a lesser-known path to becoming a professional artist. While they may not offer the same level of enjoyment as traditional art schools, some classes may be conducted online or in small office settings. These non-accredited institutions are tailored to students committed to pursuing careers in the entertainment industry as professional artists. You'll learn from industry experts genuinely dedicated to your progress. Private academies provide flexibility and affordability, with classes typically priced around $800 for a 10-week course. However, keep in mind that they do not confer degrees or certificates, and your learning journey will be self-directed.

Now, without further ado, let's explore the top 10 art schools that can help you achieve your dreams in the entertainment industry.

1. FZD School of Design

  • Website:
  • Location: Singapore
  • Program Duration: 1 year
  • Cost: $32,000
  • Format: In-person
  • Job Placement: 90%
  • Degree: Industrial design certificate

At the top of our list is the FZD School of Design in Singapore. This unique one-year program condenses what many schools take four years to teach. While you won't earn a traditional college degree, you'll graduate with an industrial design certificate. FZD's graduates consistently possess top-notch skills, with a job placement rate above 90%. The school primarily focuses on the game and film industry, covering areas like environmental, vehicle, and character design. It's important to note that FZD's intense training requires dedication, with students often working long hours and facing a challenging environment.

Author's Note: As of 2023, FZD is no longer accepting new students, but it's included here as a benchmark of quality and value.

2. Art Center College of Design (ACCD)

  • Website:
  • Location: Pasadena, California
  • Program Duration: 4 years
  • Cost: $200,000+
  • Format: In-person
  • Job Placement: 82%
  • Degree: Yes

Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, is a prestigious institution offering a four-year program with a price tag of around $200,000. While it's known for its Product and Transportation Design programs, its Entertainment Design program is a hybrid of Industrial Design and Illustration. Unlike FZD, Art Center provides a broader range of major and class choices. However, the quality of student work can vary, with some graduates achieving impressive portfolios while others may face challenges finding work.

3. Concept Design Academy (CDA)

Concept Design Academy in Pasadena, California, is a respected private art academy offering both online and in-person classes. With affordable prices, typically around $800 per 10-week class, CDA provides high-quality education comparable to larger institutions. While it lacks a formal curriculum, its instructors, including industry professionals, offer a wide range of classes, making it an excellent choice for aspiring concept artists and entertainment designers.

4. Brainstorm School

Brainstorm School, founded by Art Center alumni, offers online classes that cover foundational skills relevant to the gaming, movie, and animation industries. Classes are typically priced around $800 for 10 weeks. Brainstorm School also provides one-day and five-week workshops for a more immersive learning experience. The school is highly regarded for its exceptional quality of education.

5. Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art (LAAFA)

  • Website:
  • Location: Van Nuys, California
  • Cost: $800 per 10-week class
  • Format: In-person/Online
  • Degree: No

For those seeking a traditional art education, the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys, California, offers classes in mediums like oil painting, charcoal, and pencil sketching. LAAFA's 10-week classes, priced at approximately $800, combine in-person and online options for flexibility. The academy provides a unique and intimate studio atmosphere conducive to artistic growth.

6. Watts Atelier

Watts Atelier, located in San Diego, California, specializes in traditional techniques. Led by master artist Jeff Watts and senior students, the Atelier-style training emphasizes consistent techniques across instructors. Offering both in-person and online classes, Watts Atelier is known for its affordability, particularly its 5-week classes priced at just $350. The studio's old-school ambiance provides a unique and nostalgic learning environment.

7. Art Schools

  • Location: Varies
  • Cost: $100,000 - $200,000 for a 4-year program
  • Format: In-person
  • Degree: Yes

Art schools vary in quality and cost, with some charging between $100,000 and $200,000 for a 4-year program. While they offer a structured curriculum and a sense of community, consider more affordable alternatives that offer similar or even better guidance. Three art schools worth considering are:

  • LCAD: Offers a solid program at a reasonable price point ($140k).
  • Art Center: Known for providing a top-tier art education experience ($200k).
  • Cal Arts: Specializes in animation, with many graduates in the animation industry ($220k).

Before committing to an art school, evaluate their work, study student portfolios, watch YouTube videos for insights into school culture, and be cautious of schools that heavily advertise rankings or job retention numbers.

8. Universities

  • Location: Varies
  • Cost: $30,000 - $60,000 for a 4-year program
  • Format: In-person
  • Degree: Yes

Universities offer two primary reasons for attending. Firstly, if you have a stellar academic record and want brand name recognition, prestigious Ivy League schools may be an option, even though their art programs tend to be more conceptual. Consider programs that are more technology-focused for a more technical education. Many university students supplement their studies with classes at private art academies for a balanced education.

9. Online Classes

  • Price/Rate: $30 - $100/month
  • Format: Online
  • Level: Beginner
  • Suggested Age Range: 14 and up

Self-paced online classes are an affordable way to build a foundation. However, the variety of options can be overwhelming. One recommended school is Cubebrush by Marc Brunnet, which offers well-structured courses. Explore online classes based on industry focus and your preferences.

  • Cubebrush: Character Design for the Video Game Industry, $50/term, Website
  • Learn Squared: Advanced Concept Art & 3D for the Film Industry, $100-$200/class, Website
  • Proko: Traditional Fine Art, $25-$300/course, Website
  • Digital Art Bootcamp: Digital Character Illustration, $250/bootcamp, Website
  • CGMA: Concept Art and VFX for the Video Game Industry, $800/8 weeks (includes live feedback), Website

10. Mr. Chris Art Studio

Mr. Chris Art Studio provides live interactive online classes for students aged 10-15, hosted on the Outschool platform. Classes cost approximately $20-$25 per week and cover various topics like figure drawing, character design, and digital painting. These classes offer a fun yet educational approach for young aspiring artists.


This top 10 Art School ranking might have not been what you expected. I included a list of diverse options catering to various budgets and skill levels. Everyone will need something different based on their journey. Please watch the YouTube video to see examples of the student work. I hope this helps!