I Got An A+ and You Can Too — Book Review

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I Got An A+ in Art and You Can Too is a bit of an anomaly within the Emily Carr Artist Book Catalog (ECUABC). It is the first book I’ve come across that resembles a book that you would find not the shelf of Chapters, Indigo, or within the online selection of Amazon. It is very different from most books within the ECUABC. It is written by Tonik Wojtyla and published by Standard Form in 2007 and should be mandatory reading for all art students and every art school should have this be part of every student tool kit for success.

The author has brilliantly managed to write a no-nonsense guide for the average art student who is starting their journey in art school. When you first open the book, you notice that a copy of Tonik Wojtyla’s University of Toronto photocopied transcript with all the class grades is neatly folded and presented as a proof of concept to the reader. Also contained within the book is a bookmark with the words “Today is Gravy” on once side. The author has thought ahead and is suggesting that there will be parts that you may want to keep handy for the future 

The 166-page gold foil embossed book is a relatively easy read and contains some lighthearted humour, yet astute tone, that is carefully woven into a subject that art students should take very seriously. The most important theme, is also the title of the book, obtaining good grades. The author is careful to state and reiterates their point: that achieving good letter grades are based on one’s work ethic and the ability to give the instructor exactly what they have asked for when it comes to the various work that is assigned. Wojtyla makes the reader aware of what today’s modern art schools are run more like businesses, and that it is up to the student to take advantage of the financial investment that they are making to attend. The student isn’t attending school to compete with their fellow students, but rather attending to compete against the quality of the instructor’s art skills and capabilities. In other words, one doesn’t need to impress their peers; but instead needs to do everything they can to impress the instructor by delivering exactly what the instructor is wanting the student to deliver, then exceed that expectation. That is how you get an A+ in art school.

More so, Wojtyla makes a strong point of taking advantage of using every and all of the school’s services, studio space, and equipment that is made available to one as a student. It is an advantage to do so when you are trying to learn new skills through experimentation and producing the work that will obtain the grades that the student is working hard to achieve. It is up to the student to make sure that they take advantage of everything that is at their fingertips, as well as ask any and all instructors questions that will help one to expand their knowledge. 

One of my most favourite parts of the book is Wojtyla’s “How to Bullshit”  which comes with a complete three-column word/sentence generator that is presented when one’s mind is too tired to think clearly. It is a great piece of humour that sits within the book that brings an “ideologically doubtful sensibility” to the student while reminding them that their success depends on the effort that they bring to the table.

Tonik Wojtyra’s I Got an A+ in Art and You Can Too is a modern cheat sheet for art students who want to make great art and achieve great grades at the same time. It is complete with explanations of how to be an artist while being a student, taking advantage of the facilities and services being offered, and how to address the art school system and be successful within it.

ECU Call Number: 0753
ISBN: 9780000066160
Physical Description: 116 p. : ill ; 18 cm.
Author: Tonik Wotyla
Publisher: [Toronto] : Standard Form, [2007].

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