Friday, January 8, 2010

Do You Have a BFA?

I have a friend, actually, she's my shrink, who has told me that I need to get a bachelor's degree if I expect to make anything happen for myself in the art world.

I have always thought of college as a place to gain the skills to practise the career you have chosen as your life work. And, of course, it is! I have an associates degree in art from my local community college and feel that I gained skills that I have used to help improve my artistic technique.

But she also asserts that going to college is about making connections and using a learning institution as a platform to further my attempts to "break out" in the art world. This is a new idea to me. I have always understood that having a diploma from certain schools add to a person's cache, to make them more appealing to those who may be interested in hiring them.

I would like to know what others think about this. Will you look the questions below and give answers in the comments.

1. Do you feel that having a BA or a BFA makes a difference in your professional life?

2. Do you feel that having your BFA gave you an advantage?

3. Did you use your attendance at your chosen school to make an artistic statement while attending? Were you able to make business connections on campus or through professors and/or staff?

4. Did you consider that to be a reason for attending the college that you chose?

5.What about exposure? Did you exhibit work at your school with the intention of parlaying that into a career? Did it work?

6. Do you feel that your school provided a "platform" for you as a student?

I truly appreciate any insight anyone can give me.

Thanx!




21 comments:

kezbirdie said...

I'm currently in my 2nd year of a BA(hons) fine art. And it's probably the best thing I could have done.

I can't really answer your questions, but this is what I;ve gathered thus far.

One of the tutors made a point in one of our meetings, that it was important to attend uni everyday as that's how relationships with other students will be forged. And over time will become buisness contacts. So it's kind of building your network already.

Not mention, that the insitituion/uni/college is bound to have exhibitions of students works through out the year. It's a great way to expose your work to the rest of the students.

Not to mention the end of year shows/final shows, people attend the private veiwimgs with the intention of hiring people/looking for collaborators.

I hope that was somewhat helpful :)
Kez xxx

MetalSmitten said...

1. Not at this moment, no. I think that especially in this economy, art is really suffering. I have been out of college for 4 years and not been able to get a job other than retail since.

2. Again, not at this moment. Maybe later in my life it will make a difference, but not so far.

3. I tried to make an artistic statement but I think there were so many assignments that led off to tangental paths that nothing cohesive ever resulted. I made no lasting business connections, but I have since moved away from the area so that may have had an impact.

4. No; I went to art school knowing that there is a reason why artists are usually called starving. I had no expectations of financial or business success resulting from the degree. I went to learn the craft, for the love of doing it.

5. I did exhibit both at my school and at a few nearby galleries. I work in metals/jewelry though, and art jewelry is very very difficult to sell. I had hopes of eventually having my own little business for functional jewelry which ideally would support my forays into art jewelry, and I'm currently still working on getting the functional jewelry to sell reliably.

6. Not really.

All that said, I think a BFA doesn't hurt if you can afford it. You'll always learn something new, even if it's just from interaction with other students. It helps raise your own self-worth, even if it doesn't necessarily raise your actual financial "worth." It's a good experience is what I'm trying to say.

~*~ said...

I have a BFA in Painting.

1. Well, yes I'm shure it was a big reason that I was hired, but mostly due to the fact that I went to art school and I now work for an artist. So it gave my employer a reason to "trust me".
That said, I learned most of my skills used at my job at previous jobs. After graduating, it can be like a snowball effect. You have more respect from some people and will gain an "in" BUT NOT ALWAYS. If I did not have a degree but had only my job related skills, I'm positive that my current employers would have be just as ready to hire me.

2. Like I said, in some ways, YES. But, a BFA is NOT at all a requirement. More importantly are your skills, your work effort, reliability, and work experience.

3. I made an artistic statement but that had nothing to do with getting a job. No jobs/ connections through the staff besides work study at the school.

4. Yes I did when I applied. It was a good school too with a good reputation but now I am STILL paying off my loans after 7 1/2 years and sooooooo sick of that.

5. Sort of, had lots of painting shows. More fun than anything.
Was very different than showing at a real gallery.

6. Umm, not shure what you mean but they could have done better as far as teaching us how to fend for ourselves in the real world.

Overall, I'd say go somewhere where you can afford it. If you cant, don't do it now. School is not a must to make it in the art world.

The art world is really hard to make it in anyways, one of my teachers told me that only around 2% of out class would go on to selling there art and making a living out of just that and I think that's pretty accurate.

Have at least a part time job too.

Good luck,
Julee
http://hightowerbotanicals.blogspot.com/

Beantree Designs said...

This has been a sore point of mine for a long time. There are tons of intelligent, talented people out there who are not college educated. Although there are pluses, such as networking and job opportunities, to the degree,I feel that talent and hard work are the most important things to success. I have just recently decided to stop hiding and start showing my light to others, not just friends and family. The "degree" thing has held me back for a long time.
Besides, with God behind you, what else do you really need?

Artisticle said...

I have a Bachelor's in art...I feel like I learned a lot about art, but not about how to be an artist and make a living. As far as "getting out there" I just went to the library and got a few books about "how to not be a starving artist" and that had enough pointers to launch me in the right direction.

Weyakin Designs said...

1. Do you feel that having a BA or a BFA makes a difference in your professional life?

- To some degree. I think it gives you some level of respect that you might know what you are doing. But, I found that experience is even more crucial.

2. Do you feel that having your BFA gave you an advantage?

- It gave me an advantage in that I learned a lot of great things in school. But, I still found it really hard to get a job. And I do not have a job doing what I originally intended on doing.

3. Did you use your attendance at your chosen school to make an artistic statement while attending? Were you able to make business connections on campus or through professors and/or staff?

- I used my school experience as a place to find out what my strongest and weakest skills are. I don't think I was really sure enough of my style to make a statement yet.

As far as business connections, I had a student job as a web designer, which I got through my brother. That's how I accidentally ended up as a web designer today, though that was not my intended career path.

4. Did you consider that to be a reason for attending the college that you chose?

- Not really. I chose my college because it was a state school that my parents could more afford and because I found that I really liked the art school staff when I met them.

5.What about exposure? Did you exhibit work at your school with the intention of parlaying that into a career? Did it work?

- My school wasn't really in the center of any major area where I could make those sorts of connections. UConn in Storrs, CT is kind of in the middle of a cow field. That said, I had no real intention of trying to gain exposure through my exhibits at school. But, it was good experience for learning how to exhibit and how to take critiques.

6. Do you feel that your school provided a "platform" for you as a student?

- I feel like my school gave me the stepping stones I needed to really discover where my strengths and weaknesses lie. It gave me a place and the time to experiment with many mediums and to discover what worked the best for me. My teachers were helpful and gave a lot of great advice about life as an artist which I found very helpful.


Thanks for asking such great questions! :-)

MetroGypsy said...

1. Do you feel that having a BA or a BFA makes a difference in your professional life? Absolutely. It easily results in a pay scale increase form just HS grads, as well as respect for the fact that I am someone capable of completing a 4 year college degree. I also think that on many levels, the way the critical thinking of college grads vs. just HS Diploma grads happens is quite different, and you learn a lot about yourself in college, something that is an intangible value.

2. Do you feel that having your BFA gave you an advantage? Without a doubt. Talent is only a part of it, without hard work and the dedication, pursuing a creative field is not going to be an easy task. You have to show you can apply yourself in the varied tasks required in your field and come out strong. 4 years is a commitment and it shows.

3. Did you use your attendance at your chosen school to make an artistic statement while attending? Were you able to make business connections on campus or through professors and/or staff? Yes. Allot of people underestimate how much attendance matters! One of THE first questions potential employers ask is what was the attendance rate? If you're lazy at showing up for classes, chances are that carries into your work ethic as well. And many students I met in Conservatory are still my professional acquaintances, so there's a massive amount of opportunities there!

4. Did you consider that to be a reason for attending the college that you chose? Yes. In the Arts, regardless of major, it has a lot to do with connections an networking, so having key players in my field working and teaching there definetly impacted my choice.

5.What about exposure? Did you exhibit work at your school with the intention of parlaying that into a career? Did it work? I performed, (my major was Theatre Arts), there at the Public Theatre, as well as abroad. The school had a million tie ins to the professional world, so yes it parlayed fantastically.

6. Do you feel that your school provided a "platform" for you as a student? Yes. Without a doubt. Almost no one is ready straight out of High School to do it alone. The experiences, street cred and value of a college degree really lets you see how serious you are about it, and how far you, personally as an artist are willing to dedicate yourself to your craft.

kendrajkphotography said...

I am currently in Art school getting my BFA in photography.

1. Do you feel that having a BA or a BFA makes a difference in your professional life?
As a photographer, it's not really necessary to have a BA or BFA or any degree at all.

2. Do you feel that having your BFA gave you an advantage?
Only if I were trying to get work with a very very large photography company. As I said, degrees are less important than an amazing portfolio

3. Did you use your attendance at your chosen school to make an artistic statement while attending? Were you able to make business connections on campus or through professors and/or staff?
I've only been in art school for 1 semester and it's still an adjustment, I haven't really gotten used to it yet to make any statement with my art.

4. Did you consider that to be a reason for attending the college that you chose?


5.What about exposure? Did you exhibit work at your school with the intention of parlaying that into a career? Did it work?
Well, so far (after only being in school 1 semester) I have 2 of my photos in a school magazine. I plan to submit to the PRC in Boston and other galleries at my school when I can.
As a student, especially a college undergrad, there are a TON of opportunities for gallery showings

6. Do you feel that your school provided a "platform" for you as a student?
Not sure yet, I haven't decided if being in art school is right for me or not. I'll get back to you


:)

Rowan said...

1.Originally yes -early commissions, first 10 years of employment etc but now no not anymore -I have so may degrees its ridiculous -BA, BFA, B Design, MA in theatre admin, plus lots of extra courses along the way. When I was studying it was all wonderful and you meet interesting people and develop a network. Now I meet people through design work, exhibiting and attending exhibitions, specialised courses etc. I'm 49.
2. Do you feel that having your BFA gave you an advantage?
Definitly helped with confidence when I was younger and obviously ones skill level is improved, but I honestly believe its getting out there amongst the community you want to be part of that works now. Talking to people, showing them your work, asking for feed back is what makes the difference.

3. Definitely at the time -but I've gone off in many different tangents since then. Connections tend to be more social with professors etc now, you are more likely to get work and exhibitions with fellow students, but its also a competitive, cut throat environment.


4. No -I studied to learn and create, not to make connections although they are an inevitable outcome. I believe doing a BFA should come from passion to create and express not to network.

5. Of course there are lots of student exhibitions when you are studying and some did lead to sales and commissions - but I look back at that stuff and realize I've developed a long way since then - and that was by actually getting out there and doing rather than studying. A BFA is a great way of starting but it is experience and time that leads to you finding your own style and people becoming interested in you. Very few artists survive without diversifying along the way.


6. Only in that it gave me time to grow up, and the luxury to throw myself completly into art.

Judy looking at your work, its obvious that you have talent and you have developed a unique style and niche, I really think you should allow yourself time and start enjoying the fact that you are already an artist. Get out there and talk to people but most importantly keep developing and experimenting everyday. I don't know anyone who signs BFA on thir work, and no one buys art because the artist has a degree they buy because they love the piece!
go girl!
Rowan (frankideas)

Lindentreephotography said...

No I do not have a BFA. In fact I have little formal training as a photographer. I ask alot of questions and do alot of trial and error. I do, however, have 2 BS and all but thesis on my MS. Not that its relevant here. Just wanted to say so.

VintageScraps.etsy.com said...

I have a degree in education, and taught until we had kids, at which point I was home with them and a volunteer youth leader and speaker for 17 years. I took art throughout HS, but did little else directly with art until 3 years ago, when I started collage art. In that first year my work was sold in 4 retail boutiques (not on consignment)I started a successful shop on etsy, and was one of the 15 runners up for Country Living Magazines Woman Entreprenuer of the Year, so my answer is a huge NO!! You do not need a degree :)

Melody said...

I have a bachelors in graphic design

1. Absolutely, the skills I learned have been an invaluable foundation to the work I'm doing now.

2. Yes, I knew a lot about what to expect and what would be expected of me. It helped me to not show up for job interviews feeling like a bumpkin.

3. I really didn't make any business connections at school. I could have made better use of my time at school towards that, some of my fellow students did, but it wasn't something I thought was important at the time.

4. Well, obviously not, but I thought the skill I saw at the school was a pretty good reason to go. I wanted to refine my skills and pick up new ones. And I did.

5. I did exhibit work at school, every student gets a senior exhibit and there were opportunities through-out the year to display work in community shows. I could have done more with that too, but I'm better at art than I am with networking.

6. I'm not sure what you mean, but...probably not.

Of course there are some amazingly talent, self-taught artists out there and not everyone needs college...but then again, not all of us are amazing. If you're good at art and you know how to network you can go places without that degree, I doubt I would have.

Bob said...

1. Yes. My BFA enabled me to break into the graphic design business, which I stayed in for 22 years.

2. Not the degree itself, but the things I learned in school, especially from other students.

3. Not really, but my first job was working for one of my teachers at their business in New York (I went to school in PA)

4. Yes. I went to Tyler School of Art, which was known for having a faculty made up mostly of people who were prominent in their fields, and then taught on the side.

5.School was very competitive, but I did make it into a few shows

6. Yes. Tyler was an excellent school.

Starglow Studio said...

BFA - Commercial Art
1. Maybe
2. Not much
3. a. Not really, b. No (of course that was over 30 years ago)
4. No
5. a. Yes, b. No, but it gave me experience
6. No

rstroh said...

I don't have a college education. I married very young, and the focus was putting my (first husband) through college.

It was always a dream of mine to go to art school, but those dreams of being an artist morphed into being "artistic" in everyday life, i.e., making my own clothes, decorating my house, creating watercolor and pen and ink drawings for my walls, etc. Aesthetics play a part in everything I do.

I believe that knowledge is a powerful thing and that those who attend college certainly get a tremendous value from it. I am proud that all three of my children have college degrees.

After working for 34 years in the corporate world earning as much as my PHD educated second husband, the cynical side of me says going to college with the hopes to "break out" in the art world would be iffy. I think you can make valuable connections in ways other than college - volunteer at your local art society, get involved in artistic endeavors in your community, etc. Work hard at getting yourself out there when and where ever you can.

To me, the real issue should be whether or not YOU want to go to college, how it would make YOU feel if you completed a degree. If it is something you truly want to do, then go for it!

Good luck!
momo

Elle said...

I have a BS in Psyc and no it has not helped me in any areas of my professional life. Keep in mind that I graduated 25 years ago, and my life has taken many twists and turns. Having said that, I had a great education that I wouldn't trade for anything.

Unfortunately, I don't have any ideas on how/if an art degree might help.

Judy Goddard said...

Thanx to everyone who contributed to this discussion. There's so much to think about now!

God bless you all!

JNHK said...

1. Do you feel that having a BA or a BFA makes a difference in your professional life?
Absolutely, yes! It's one of the best things I have ever done!

2. Do you feel that having your BFA gave you an advantage?
Definitely, yes!

3. Did you use your attendance at your chosen school to make an artistic statement while attending? Were you able to make business connections on campus or through professors and/or staff?
Very much so, all of the above in both schools I attended.

4. Did you consider that to be a reason for attending the college that you chose?
Yes.

5.What about exposure? Did you exhibit work at your school with the intention of parlaying that into a career? Did it work?
Yes, it did. I actually got hired at my university as the graphic designer in the marketing department before I even graduated. At the time I interviewed I had my work exhibited in the Senior art show. My now boss saw my work and was impressed.

6. Do you feel that your school provided a "platform" for you as a student?
Very much so - both schools I attended were very active in helping students excel!

voxwoman said...

I don't have a BFA/BA. I have a BSEE (that's electrical engineering, if you can't decipher it). I got it in 1981. I will tell you a story, though.

One of my friends got her BFA from a prestigious Philadelphia art college the same year I got my engineering degree. Throughout our various careers, she has kept pace with me, salary-wise, and has sometimes done better than me. Now she is a fabulously talented artist, who didn't mind doing commercial work (like for the Franklin Mint or newspapers drawing maps and such). I don't know how much her degree helped her, but I wish I had studied art/design in college instead of engineering.

Your connections you make through school and work definitely inform your future work. Unless you can survive a huge hit in salary when you decide to change careers, you tend to get stuck with the people who know you and respect the work that you've already done.

Jeanette said...

I don't have a BA. but an associates in Interior Design. I think having a BA is beneficial. In some carriers you are guaranteed to earn more money. It would be easier to get a job because frankly people well think you’re smarter. But as far as an art stand point it doesn't make too much of difference. But I'm saying this loosely because it really does depend on what the job goal is. But as far as being a local artist no I don't think it's really needed. You can gather up a lot of resources online on how to make things. Or take continuing education classes at the community college. Independent artist pretty much learn things as they go. And it's more rewarding that way to because you know that you did it all on your own. Hope this helps :)

Carol Lin said...

I have a B.S. in BioSci.
I am currently applying for an M.A. in Illustration.

1. I think it depends. If you want to be a commercial artist (i.e. illustration/graphic design), an EXCELLENT portfolio is what you need. But I hear it's very rare to have someone self-taught and at that caliber. If you are looking into fine arts, gallery work or teaching...then I would say a degree will help you (especially with teaching).

I am currently taking classes at a community college and hoping to enter a program for illustration Fall 2010 =). My goal is to have an art degree, but I'm finding the skills and information I'm learning from class and the instructors more valuable to me than the degree at the moment.

2. I'm not sure yet ^_^;;.

3. Going back to school, I was really starting over from zero. I used class to really hone down on basic skills and to experiment (I still don't have a permanent style XD). Most of the students are younger than me, so they're mostly thinking about playing or transferring to a 4-year school ^_^;;...not business. But I found many of my professors to be valuable resources. They will help you and try to get you connected if they can. I have met a graphic design instructor who helps his web students find commissions. I also had a painting teacher who helps his advanced students get into galleries and become regular exhibitors.

All my instructors tell me networking is extremely important.

4. Personally, I do think pursuing a degree in art will help me. I'm not those rare creative geniuses, but I do have art skills that can be finessed. So a structured program is the best for me and a main reason I returned to school.

5. Most of my work from school is geared towards a portfolio for my application. Not for a job.

6. My community college is great. The classes are way smaller (30 students versus 200-300 when I was an undergrad at a uni). A lot of the professors still work in the art community and bring their completed work and job experiences into the class.

hope this helps! good luck with whatever decision you make!

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My nane is Judy and I've been a christian for more than 3/4 of my life. I believe in redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that God, the Spirit lives in me and gives me the power to do His will and to live a joyful life. I have a Godly husband, a grown son and daughter. I live on a farm with 3 goats, 2 chickens, 2 horses, a cat, a dog and a python. I am an artist and a singer. I was a full time stay at home mom, the hardest job you'll ever love! I have two handmade shops on Etsy. Leaning on the Promises www.leaningonthepromises.etsy.com (Hand Painted Walking Canes) and Beaver Creek Pottery www.beavercreekpottery.etsy.com and an Etsy shop for selling Vintage and Antiques. Jersey Pine Pickers www.jerseypinepickers.etsy.com I post about my relationship with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, about the things He teaches me, delights me with and how He uses me.