Step 1: Line Up (or Not)

A crowd of the nearly 10,000 candidates who applied for the Shandong University of Arts this year

A crowd of the nearly 10,000 candidates who applied for the Shandong University of Arts this year

Step 2: Paint

Candidates taking a painting exam at Shandong University of Art and Design in Feb. (all photos by and via

Step 3: Judgment

A professor reviewing college fine-art entrance exams in Shandong province in Jan.

All of these photos come from Shandong, where, according to the People’s Daily Online, nearly 10,000 people applied to get into the Shandong University of Art and Design this year. Based on the pictures and text for the photo essay, it sounds like candidates must travel to the school to apply and take entrance exams. “The scene was so crowded that many candidates got pushed down to the ground,” says one of the captions. Does that make it a good or a bad time to point out that the Chinese art market is shrinking?

h/t @Colossal

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...

5 replies on “How to Apply to Art School in China”

  1. I’m not sure if this scene directly reflects the Chinese current art market, but I do believe it shows that more people in China now see the potential of art, both commercial and artistic. This school has produced great artists over the years, and this might be one of the reasons young talents want to give a try. I never believe that this kind of rigid entrance exam is a good way to discover artists. It limits creativity and shadows individuality. However, given how large the population of China is, this is probably the most effective way to select students. Hope there are individualized interviews following this entrance exam.

    1. Totally hear you, and hey, part of me wishes that art school had this much cred here!

  2. This looks like the perfect training to toughen up artists for a try at a NYC gallery. “If I can make it there… I’ll make it anywhere…. It’s up to you…(Shandong, Shandong) New York, New York “

  3. This is pretty standard of China’s entire attitude towards the arts. My cousin went through this arduous process – and the irony is that even after all of the “elite” students have been supposedly picked, many subpar painters still end up in the course – simply because students with higher scores (based on the painting exam and, to a lesser degree, your secondary education scores) have gone elsewhere.

    I went to Beijing to do a month-long painting/drawing “course” in a studio where about 50-80 students labour six days a week, from 9 in the morning till 10 at night. Most of them are there all year, and the next if they fail the entrance exams. And for what? Skill improves, but at what cost? Creativity and even imagination is stunted and actively discouraged. Teachers favour a certain “style” and give students who adhere to such “styles” higher grades. Cue three years of an education that is pretty much exactly the same thing as before: painting, drawing.

    I study art in the UK and the teachers are wistful: “art isn’t the same thing over there as over here. You don’t draw busts or paint portraits, do you? You make contemporary work.” Well, yes. As opposed to traditional, non-contemporary work in the contemporary era! Honestly, art schools in China need a wake-up call.

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