So you want to go to Art School: Masters in Fine Arts, is it really worth it?

So you want to go to Art School: Masters in Fine Arts, is it really worth it?

It is a fact that there are currently more students in Fine Art Programs around the country than there were artists during the entire French Renaissance. So let’s get real: is a masters in your respective artistic craft be it painting, photography, video or performance a necessary evil or just another way to prolong entry into the real world? There is no right answer but I’ve been down that road and these are some things to think about before taking that leap back into academia.

1) Pick the right program.

Do your research and I cannot emphasize this enough. There are different programs for different needs and it is crucial that yours are suited to reach your full creative potential. Check out past student work in online portfolios. If the majority of work seems to lean to the more commercial side and you see yourself as more of an abstract or conceptual artist maybe this is not the program for you. Don’t be afraid to email past students in regards to the program. Graduate contact information is usually readily available on the schools website. Ask them about their experience in most cases alumni are willing to reply and can be very helpful. Also program structures tend to vary. Some schools like Bard and Parsons are low residency only meeting for short periods in the summer, while other schools will have a more typical semester schedule.

2) Art school is ALL about community.

This is the most crucial part of a Fine Art degree. It is rough out there in the world for an artist and if you don’t have a tight knit community of peers to help you out it is easy to become quite lost. When applying, inquire with department heads about what the community at the university is like. Will you have access to year-round studios? Are there common areas for you to have critiques with peers outside of class? Post-Grad you will need to keep each other informed about residencies, open calls and possibly work together in group shows to survive as working artists. If you don’t believe me check out Yale’s graduating class of 2001. Like 90% famous. And don’t tell me that’s not what you want because you do. ALL artists do.

3) Avoid letting loans and debt be the main factor in your decision making.

This is a hard one. Everyone has their own limits financially but this should not be the reason you do or do not apply. If an MFA is your dream shoot for the stars. Get accepted first and then worry about cash flow. There are a plethora of scholarships and grants to apply to and your school of choice can point you in the right direction. You can even work as a teachers assistant to get a decrease in tuition. If at all possible avoid bank loans and go for federal if your criteria fits the bill. It’s a rough life trying to pay off those loans as a starving artist so try not to bite off more than you can chew. Where there’s a will there’s a way don’t let the man keep you down!

(Image via: allmoviephoto)