So Now You’re an Emerging Visual Artist
Information for BFA, BA-Art, and BS-Art Education Graduates (and those who will graduate soon)
Note that there are millions of resources out there for artists. These are just some of them. Their appearance on this list is not to be construed as a endorsement by Tyler School of Art/Temple University, nor does the lack of appearance on this list indicate that a particular resource is not worth your time. This is a non-exhaustive list for your convenience. If there’s a resource you know about that should be on this list, let us know in the comments, and if it looks like others would like it, we’ll add it. Also, as these are third-party links, they will become outdated from time to time. If you find a bad link, let us know that too. This page last updated in March 2013.
General Resources for New Artists
Pew Artist Resource Guide
Pew Fellowships in the Arts has created this resource guide. The information found in the online guide was gathered from a variety of sources and was the source for some of the information in this guide. The Pew ARG is coded by topic, such as Promotion for Artists and Work Space and Housing. The resources are broken down by arts discipline, where relevant, and/or by subtopic, and many are specific to the Philadelphia region. Originally published as a handbook-sized printed book, the guide has been made available online in partnership with Artists LINC Philadelphia.
Center For Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA)
CFEVA dedicates itself to making art careers viable for those who choose them, helping emerging artists reach their audiences, and promoting interest and understanding of emerging visual art among citizens of the community. They offer classes, lectures, and workshops geared to young artists, and have an annual Emerging Artist Fellowship (deadline in the fall) that helps to jumpstart your art career through exhibition opportunities, mentorships, professional development workshops and career counseling.
InLiquid, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit membership organization, shows an extensive online collection of work by local, national, and international artists to the public while serving as a comprehensive hub for visual arts information and resources. They are dedicated to providing opportunities and exposure for visual artists and designers, serving as a free public hub for arts information and resources, and making the visual arts more accessible to a broader audience. InLiquid also nurtures our creative community through a continuing series of non-virtual art exhibitions and events.
PHLocal is a conglomeration of listings of artists, galleries, and shows from Philadelphia. Artists can create a free online profile, which will then automatically link to events and galleries in the Philadelphia area.
Philadelphia/Tri State Artists Equity
Historically, Artists Equity championed improved economic and working conditions for artists, as well as the protection and expansion of artists’ rights. Their current advocacy projects include efforts to establish fair guidelines for juried exhibitions and to require clear documentation for original prints and reproductions. Artists Equity benefits individual artists and the community in many other ways. They sponsor at least two exhibition opportunities each year. Other services include newsletters, and informative programs with topics that range from copyright law to good framing and conservation techniques to marketing. Networking opportunities and critiques are additional benefits to artists who often work in solitude.
New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA)
The New York Foundation for the Arts’ mission is to empower artists at critical stages in their creative lives. While primarily geared to artists working in New York, they offer a wealth of services for all artists regardless of geographic location. They have job listings, exhibition calls, studio listings (primarily NYC area), as well as educational materials about the business of being an artist. They have a free email list for their newsletter.
Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation
The Bartol Foundation supports individual artists, our cultural workers, through programs that strengthen their creative work so they can better contribute to community life. The Foundation invests in the professional development of teaching artists as part of its mission to enhance and expand high quality arts education programs. Most programs are free or very low cost. They have an email list–you’ll want to get on that so you get first dibs for their free workshops, which fill up fast.
Primarily for Washington State artists, Artist Trust is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting artists working in all creative disciplines. They were founded in 1987 by a group of arts patrons and artists who were concerned about the lack of support for individual artists. They have a particularly good listing of opportunities in their resources listings.
The Leeway Foundation
The Leeway Foundation is a Philadelphia-based organization committed to art making as an integral part of social change, to movement building, and anti-oppression work where Leeway is accountable, accessible, part of and governed by, the communities Leeway’s programs support. Leeway is guided by the values of fearlessness in action, speech, and self-examination and commits to breaking down boundaries and barriers with creativity, respect, and openness to the process. They offer grants for women and transgendered artists who see to create social change through their art, as well as offer other services to women and transgendered artists.
ArtBusiness.com provides complete art services, art appraisals, art price data, news, articles, and market research and information to art collectors, artists, and fine arts professionals. They have a really interesting list of articles on all sorts of issues that affect emerging artists–follow the link to see what you can learn about the business of being an artist.
First off, you need a resume!
Temple’s Career Center has an excellent resource for crafting your resume and writing a cover letter. Note that there are sample resumes for all sorts of majors. While there is one specifically for Art, don’t discount ideas from other samples, including Photography, Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising. Cover letters are very important and should be carefully crafted specifically for the job opening you are applying for. Make sure your cover letter quickly and succinctly explains exactly why YOU are the most awesome person they could hire for that job! Here’s a sample to help you get started. There’s a lot more information on the Career Center Resume and Cover Letter page.
Are you a graduate student? Thinking about an academic career or looking for grants? There’s a specific resource just for you!
Now, before you start looking, read this: 3 Things That Will Get Your Resume Thrown in the Trash
and maybe this: 7 Tips For Finding a Job After College.
Visit Temple’s Career Center!
Temple University Career Center
Students (and alumni!) often forget that Temple has a Career Center! The Career Center offers help with the mechanics of the job search (how to write a resume, interview, following up) as well as help finding both internships and jobs for both students and alumni. The Career Center provides all Temple students and alumni with a full range of services to optimize their internship and employment opportunities and enhance their life-long career success.
Contact: Ashley Jones
Career Coach, Career Center
220 Mitten Hall
Other Job Hunting Resources
Idealist (mostly nonprofit jobs)
Coroflot (mostly design jobs)
Higher Ed Jobs (teaching & administrative jobs)
Academic 360 (teaching & administrative jobs)
Academic Keys(teaching & administrative jobs)
Sometimes you just need to get your foot in the door. Sometimes you want to try out a city without making a long-term commitment. These are “temp” agencies that specialize in creative placements. Some of the jobs might be project-based for various lengths of time. Some might be “temp to perm” which means if you work out they’ll hire you as a regular basis. In any case, don’t discount the opportunity.
Work Evolved (mostly NYC area)
Being a Self-employed Artist
Even if you have a “day job,” you can still continue to make art. Most artist work at least part-time until they become firmly established, but they still maintain a studio practice. You must continue to make art if you want to be successful. You should work in your studio–whether that’s at home or if you have a dedicated studio–as much as you can!
Local Studio Spaces
Coral Street Art House (live in studios for low-income artists)
You can often find inexpensive studio space on Craigslist (categories Communities -> Artists or Housing -> Office/commercial). When looking at studio space on Craigslist make sure you initially visit the studio during the day, and take a friend with you. Then, before you sign or agree to anything, ask around about the area and make sure you are comfortable going there/being there during the hours you will be working in the studio.
Communal Working Space
Sometimes, you don’t want a studio but you need access to equipment in order to work. There are several resources in Philadelphia to help you out! Each has a different model for costs and access, so you’ll have to check out to see what you need to do to use these facilities. If you want to keep working using expensive equipment you can’t afford to buy, these are your solutions.
Philadelphia Sculpture Gym (opening soon!)
3rd Ward Philadelphia (opening soon!)
Yes, You Need a Website
Having a web site that at a minimum includes pictures (with details) of your work along with your artist statement and your CV is almost a necessity in this digital age. Your web site will allow curators and others who are interested in your work the ability to see more of what you do. If you are somewhat technically savvy, you may be able to sell your work directly from your web site. You might want to consider also having a sales-specific site from a sales-oriented venue such as Etsy, which allows you to set up your own “store” on the web and sell either completed work or solicit commissions for work.
Your website should be professional, yet still reflect your aesthetic. It should be easy to find with a simple address that makes sense to your work. Usually this means your name, but if you have a common name, it might mean you will have to get creative. Just remember that the type of work you are doing right now might not be the type of work you are doing in five years, so don’t make your domain name too work-specific.
You have basically three choices when it comes to web sites. If you are confident programming the site yourself (through Dreamweaver/another site authoring tool or programming in Flash or CSS), or have a good friend with these skills who is willing to do this work for you, you can contract with a site host to host your site. You are then responsible for creating and updating the site yourself. These sites typically have a one-year renewal period and will be the lowest-cost site, typically running you between $50 and $100 a year, depending on the services the host offers. If you go this route (particularly if someone else sets up the site for you), make sure you can keep your site up to date yourself, and do that regularly. There are literally hundreds of site hosts—typing “website host” into your favorite search engine will net you more than you can possibly compare. Take your time, ask friends who create websites for advice, and make sure you understand what you are paying for. Most will help you register your domain (ie. http://www.yourname.com) as part of the package—if you already have your own domain they should help you point it to their site.
Site Hosts (if you are creating your own web site)
If money is an issue, you can go with one of the free blog programs or a Facebook page. If you already blog or use Facebook, you already know how to do this. The downside is you won’t have the same resources for showcasing your portfolio (although if you’re going the blog route and are clever you can probably create something that works almost as well), and you won’t have a dedicated domain (www.yourname.com), which means it may be harder for curators to find your work. Some may also place advertising on your site (the cost of “free”). Most programs will walk your through how to create your page. Both of these alternatives work best if you update them regularly, so make a commitment to yourself to do that at least semi-monthly. You can also use some blog programs to create/update your site, but you will have to still contract with a host to host the site online.
Free Blogs/Facebook Pages
TypePad (no longer free)
WordPress.org (free program but requires a host)
Moveable Type (free program but requires a host)
Carbonmade.com (free program, but has reasonable cost expanded mode, and you can have your own URL with a paid account)
500px.com (mostly for photographers; free, but has reasonable cost expanded mode)
Finally, you can go with a service that offers web templates and hosting. Many of these services are designed specifically for artists, and include easy-to-use tools to get your portfolio up on the web fast and easy. They usually cost more than straight hosting, but you will spend less time creating and updating your website. Most allow you to have your own domain name (www.yourname.com). They will also frequently let you pay month-to-month, lessening the concern of cash flow. The main downside is that your site can look like so many others—but the ease of use is often worth it.
(see also Carbonmade and 500px above)
Showing Your Work
Often curators will decide on a theme for a show and issue an open call. Sometimes the theme is just “emerging artists” or “new work,” so the call can be very general. Often, there is an entry or jury fee involved, and this can get quite pricey. Charging a fee used to be the mark of a bad or vanity show, but with budget cuts, this is no longer necessarily the case; entry fees are now the norm in most respectable shows. But do some research and make sure you are only entering show by reputable sources such as legitimate galleries and art centers. Open calls can be a way to get your work out there in front of other curators and the general public, but you can spend a great deal of time and money entering shows. Some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure your work fits the call. Don’t waste your time entering shows that don’t really fit your work—it annoys the curators and you’ll only be throwing money away.
- Read the prospectus carefully and follow the instructions to the letter. If they ask for an artist statement of less than 100 words, edit your statement so you don’t go over the limit. Send everything they ask for exactly as they ask for it.
- Follow the date restrictions. If the email entry is due by Friday, send it by Friday. Pay attention to the dates for mailed entries—is it a postmark date or a received by date? Make sure you send received by entries at least 3 days before the deadline and use priority mail.
- Send good images. Consider having your work professionally photographed. Keep your digital images as TIFF files as large as you can. If the instructions say to send JPGs, open your TIFFs, size the images to fit the guidelines, then save as a JPG. Don’t resize your JPGs—each time you save a JPG, you lose image quality.
- Stay organized as you enter open calls. Keep a record of what you send, including information regarding the price you quoted for your work and what images you sent. Consider keeping computer folders for each call so you have a record and you know exactly what to send if you are accepted.
- If you get into a show, make sure your artwork is properly packed and arrives by the deadline. Ask if you need to include return shipping, and do so if requested. When you ship your work UPS or FEDEX, you can usually purchase a return shipping label and include that in the box with your artwork.
- Make sure your artwork is ready to hang. If it requires a setup, include a photo of what it should look like, along with hanging instructions.
- Save any press you receive! If you are in an out of town show, Google the show at least mid-way though the run to see if the local press wrote anything!
Finding Open Calls
Slide Registries, in the Internet age, can be useful places to upload your work for curators and collectors to see, or they can be complete wastes of time–it’s difficult to tell. Still, it often doesn’t hurt to be seen. Most of them are free, although there are a few that charge artists–this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better, so don’t pay for one unless you hear from someone that a particular registry is worth your hard-earned money. There are also curated and uncurated sites–the curated ones require that you send images to a jury for inclusion, while uncurated registries allow you to simply upload your images. Some local arts commissions maintain artist registries for artists residing in their locality–to find one of these, search “[locality] artist registry” in your favorite search engine. Many of the artist organizations listed at the bottom of this page have media-specific slide registries for their member artists. In many cases, that is one of the primary reasons to join the organization. Still can’t figure out if you need to do this? NYFA provides an informative article on their website. In any case, here are some non-media specific registries to start with:
Philadelphia Public Artist Registry – [PDF] non curated
Local Artists – non curated
NurtureArt – non curated
White Columns – curated
Drawing Center Viewing Program – curated
Coop galleries are really popular for emerging artists. Usually these are started by groups of friends, and, if run well, can be ongoing businesses that accept new members from outside the original group. There is usually a jury process; it often helps to be friends with one or more of the members. There is also an ongoing cost; some coop galleries pay their rent using the combined resources of their members, so you can pay $50, $100 or more a month (depending on the number of members and the gallery’s rent) to belong. These types of galleries give their members a solo or 2-person show on a set schedule, depending on the number of members (once a year, once every 18 months, etc). There is often a work requirement as well. Other coop galleries charge much lower annual membership fee; these often have annual member juried shows or curated shows for members and you are not necessarily guaranteed a show opportunity, but they can be valuable for their networking opportunities as well. If you decide, or are invited to join a coop gallery weigh the pros and cons carefully and make sure you can afford the monthly cost, have time for the work requirements, the work of the other artists fits in with yours, and you feel like the show schedule gives you the exposure you need for the time and money you put into the gallery. Some local coop galleries include:
These galleries are more like retail stores that sell handmade goods. If your work is more craft-oriented and/or you produce multiples (prints, pots, glass vases), this may be the best venue for your work. Each is run differently, so check the website to see if they have submission guidelines; if not, call and ask for an appointment with the owner/manager, and then be polite and professional when you show your work.
Etsy connects buyers with independent creators to find the very best in handmade, vintage and supplies. When you sign up to be a seller, you’ll get your own easy-to-use online shop. You can customize it with a banner, fill out a profile and set your shop policies. You’ll need a credit card to start an account, but it’s very low cost–you pay 20¢ to list a work for 4 months, and then a 3.5% transaction fee if/when it sells.
Saatchi Online is a platform that allows emerging artists to showcase and sell their work and gives art lovers insider access to new talent from around the world. They enable artists to sell their originals as well as make them available as prints while giving them access to an engaged global audience. Artists manage their own portfolios and price their own work letting both artists and collectors skip the formalities of the traditional gallery structure. They take a 30% commission on the sale of original artwork, but you can also sell prints of your work, which they print.
Local Traditional Galleries
There are lots of independent traditional gallery spaces in Philadelphia. They will usually have a specific point of view, which your work may or may not fit into. Most have specific guidelines for reviewing/choosing work, which are usually posted on the gallery’s website. Do your research to make sure your work fits into the gallery and follow their guidelines to the letter. And don’t forget to be polite and professional when talking to gallery owners!
These are not traditional galleries, but they are spaces that regularly show work. Each has its own way of selecting artists, so check the web site to see what you need to do to show there.
Brandywine Workshop (printmaking studio/gallery)
Legal and Money Issues
Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
The Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (PVLA) program provides pro-bono and low cost legal assistance, educational programs and business counseling to artists and arts and cultural organizations. Volunteer attorneys work on projects such as protecting copyrights and trademarks; preparing by-laws for newly formed nonprofits; negotiating short- and long-term workspace leases and exhibition agreements; securing protection of artwork; and setting up new community-wide arts initiatives, to name a few.
The Visual Artists Guide to Estate Planning is a free downloadable PDF guide to organizing you money now and in the future.
Fractured Atlas is a non-profit organization that serves a national community of artists and arts organizations. Programs and services facilitate the creation of art by offering vital support to the artists who produce it. They help artists and arts organizations function more effectively as businesses by providing access to funding, healthcare, education, and more, all in a context that honors their individuality and independent spirit. Fractured Atlas can help you run your business more efficiently, with more, better resources at your fingertips. That means you’ve got more time, energy, and money to dedicate to making art.
A residency can be short—a couple of weeks, or long—a year or more. Often they are at some beautiful, out of the way space, but they can also be at a hotel, a thrift shop, or an art center or school. Some residencies offer free room or room & board, some actually pay you to come (Bemis Center, in Omaha, Nebraska, is one of these), and some just are spaces and you have to come up with the money to both get there and then pay them something for your stay. In all cases, a residency can offer you a way to experiment in a new setting, get away from your daily distractions, meet new people, recharge your creative batteries, and/or completely change the way you work.
If you are thinking about a residency, make sure you think through all of the issues involved. If they are charging you, can you afford it? Will you quit your job or can you get a leave of absence? Can you afford to move your stuff—even if you just have to move your supplies—to the residency location? Are you prepared to be away from your family/friends/pet/significant other (most won’t allow you to bring your pets or S.O.)? There is a lot to consider, so make sure you think it through.
40th Street Artist in Residence Program awards West Philadelphia artists on year of free studio space at 40th & Chestnut Streets. In exchange, artists share their talents by leading workshops, teaching classes, exhibiting in the area, etc.
Brandywine Workshop has a Young Artist Fellowship, which is a one to two month residency for Philadelphia residents under 40 years of age.
Breadboard Artist in Residency Program offers artists and designers a 6-8 month residency at NextFab Studio. Resident artists are given opportunities to develop ideas and push their creative work in new directions using new creative tools. Artists benefit from the expertise of NextFab technicians and a diverse member community.
The Center for Art in Wood offers the International Turning Exchange, in which five artists, a scholar and photojournalist from around the world come together in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The resident fellows include artists working in wood, sculptors, and furniture makers.
The Clay Studio Resident Artist Program offers individuals the opportunity to further develop their work, to establish professional contacts and standards, and to work within a community of like-minded individuals in an urban environment. Once chosen as a resident artist, one is entitled to retain their residency for up to five years.
Marie Walsh Sharpe Studio Space Project offers a free, one-year studio in NYC. There is a competitive application process held once a year, usually around the first of the year.
MuralLAB/Breadboard Artist Residency Program, a collaboration between MuralARTS and Breadboard, offers a unique hybrid residency with stipend for emerging artists.
Philadelphia Art Hotel is located in the burgeoning arts district of East Kensington in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Art Hotel hosts an urban artist residency where local, national, and international artists receive free temporary living and studio space. The residency program offers artists dedicated working space to develop new projects, continue unfinished work, or complete research for an upcoming series. Artists are encouraged to become tourists in the vibrant city of Philadelphia or work with local artists and studios while they engage in these practices.
Phildelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) Artist in Residence Program annually invites two artists for one-month residencies at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC). The program is intended to support talented, self-directed emerging/mid-career artists in realizing their goals and visions. Resident artists will also serve as a source of inspiration and guidance for the many students, beginning photographers and PPAC members who work and learn at PPAC.
Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership Artist Residencies are designed as collaborative ventures between teachers and artists placing trained, knowledgeable, practicing artists into schools and community settings. In these residencies, artists work intensely with up to three core groups of students acting as mentors, facilitators, and technical advisors to the students as they undertake experiential arts projects.
RAIR (Recycled Artist-In-Residency) is a group of dedicated individuals working to connect art and sustainability in conjunction with Revolution Recovery, LLC. We provide artists with salvaged materials and comfortable workspace while increasing awareness about the waste stream.
Creative Glass Center of America Fellowships at Wheaton Arts Center allow artists the use of private studios and excellent facilities within a respectful sanctuary of concentrated time. This is an exceptional opportunity for artists to utilize one of the finest facilities of the glass medium, known internationally. Not only do artists get exceptional access to these facilities and various process mediums, but they also receive generous stipends, private studios, technical assistance, comfortable housing and institutional support.
Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts
The DCCA Visual Arts Residency Program has forged relationships between nationally recognized artists and the Wilmington community–providing innovative artists with the opportunity to develop professionally and to collaborate with under-served community groups to create unique works of art that are relevant to the participant’s lives. Visual Arts Residents are selected through a competitive, juried review process. Each artist submits work samples, critical reviews, and a proposal for art they will create with a Wilmington community group. Proposals are judged by the strength and innovation of artists’ work, the artists’ experience with community work, and the impact the project will have on the Wilmington community.
Goggleworks Center for the Arts Artist in Residency Program seeks to create an environment where residents can be inspired by other artists, arts and cultural organizations and artwork that can be found throughout the historic building.
The Marlin and Regina Miller Art Gallery at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania annually requests proposals from artists, craftspersons, and designers for the production of an original, temporary, site-specific installation for our exhibition space. Stipend and housing is provided.
The two best places to find national and international residencies are The Alliance of Artists Communities, a national and international association of artists’ communities and residencies and ResArtis, an association of over 300 centers, organizations, and individuals in over 50 countries offering artist residencies. You can search by deadline or filter by United States to find domestic residencies.
Note that many of the open call lists in the Finding Open Calls section above also list residencies in their opportunity lists.
Joining a professional society can help you network with others, find opportunities to show your work, learn advanced skills, find studio apprenticeships, and find jobs. Some can even help you with entrepreneurial business tools, access to credit, health insurance options, and other tools you may need to create your own independent art business. Many have student rates if you are currently a student. This is not an exhaustive list; if you know of others, please let us know in the comments.
The Plastic Club
The name ” Plastic Club” refers to any work of art unfinished, or in a “plastic” state. The term also refers to the changing and tactile sense of painting and sculpture. Since 1897, The Plastic Club has been devoted to the promotion and preservation of the visual (plastic) arts in Philadelphia. The busy gallery schedule offers several annual exhibitions for members and non-members, as well as invited artists in solo and group exhibitions. Members include well-known Philadelphia artists.
Philadelphia Sketch Club
America’s oldest club for artists. Since 1860 the PSC has served as a meeting place, forum for ideas, and vital bridge between the creators and supporters of contemporary art.
Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers
The Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers is a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster the art and craft of weaving and the fiber arts. Membership in the Guild offers members not only the chance to increase learning but to be part of a community of other fiber artists. The Guild motto is “We Learn By Doing and Grow By Sharing”.
Founded in 1996, our organization of professional sculptors is more than just an advocate for local artists. Philadelphia Sculptors has become a highly visible element of the Philadelphia art scene through sculpture exhibitions, programs, presentations, workshops, and technical demonstrations.
Philadelphia Water Color Society
In the autumn of 1900. a small group of dedicated painters, Charles E. Dana, George Walter Dawson, Herbert E. Everett, Thomas P. Anschutz and Susan Bradley, founded the Philadelphia Water Color Club. In March, 1922, the growing organization was chartered giving watercolor as a valid and respected art form its deserved place in the Philadelphia area and beyond.
Philadelphia Art Alliance
The Philadelphia Art Alliance is dedicated to the advancement and appreciation of innovative contemporary art with a focus on craft and design, and to inspiring dynamic interaction between audiences and artists in a setting of historic and aesthetic significance.
Art Directors Club of Philadelphia
We are the creative minds that conjure the visual images that move you-in print, on the web, and in full motion. The ADCP is open to all creatives-designers, art directors, illustrators, web designers, videographers, animators and copywriters.
The American Ceramic Society
American Craft Council
American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)
ASIFA East Animation with an East Coast Twist
American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)
Art Glass Association
Colored Pencil Society of America
Graphic Artists Guild
International Sculpture Center
National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society
The National Sculpture Society
National Watercolor Society
The PA Art Education Association
Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen
Society of Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators
The Society of Illustrators
Society of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists
Studio Art Quilt Associates
Surface Design Association
Women in Photography International
Thinking of Going to Graduate School?
Grad school can be a great experience and a stepping-stone to a career in art and art education. But it is a significant investment in both time and money, so it is not something you want to do on a whim. Do your research and make sure graduate school is the best thing for you to do. If you are considering graduate school, talk to your professors about whether or not grad school makes sense for you, and if it does, what schools to consider. Then talk to the studio technicians and the graduate students in your department and other departments related to your chosen media. Ask about the schools they went to for their undergraduate degree and what they wish they’d known or considered before they made the decision to go to graduate school.
Keep in touch with faculty. Letters of reference are necessary for most applications. If you do need a letter, it is polite to provide pre-addressed envelopes, or at least send pre-made labels and appropriate postage if the letters are not electronically submitted. If you are requesting a letter from a faculty member from the past, it might be a good idea to forward an updated letter CV, artist statement, and images of work so that the faculty member can comment on your current body of work.
Read each school’s admission procedure carefully to find out what you need to submit and when. Most accept some form of electronic slides of your work, but will have different ways you should submit them. You will also need your Temple transcripts (as well as transcripts from any other school you may have attended if you transferred to Tyler). Information about how to do that at Temple is here; if you need other transcripts, go to the school’s web site and type “transcripts” in the search engine. It’s also a good idea to get your application in as early as possible and not wait until the application deadline. It can take several weeks to get transcripts from some institutions, and it is difficult to track credentials at the last minute. When sending important credentials in the mail, ask for delivery confirmation in case the school cannot find them.
Unlike other academic disciplines, art schools generally prefer to enroll students who did their undergraduate work at other schools. Some departments will not admit students from their own undergraduate programs, so you may be going to another school and possibly another area of the country. Many MFA programs also prefer that you have some post-baccalaureate life experience before attending grad school and may not accept you until you have been out of school for a couple of years, so think about working for a couple years and perfecting your portfolio (and begin paying off your undergraduate student loans), before you start applying to graduate schools. You may also wish to consider a post-baccalaureate program. Many schools offer them in either the summer, or for one year after you receive your BFA. A post-bac is another way to see if a graduate program is a good decision and develop a portfolio further.
Financing grad school is different than financing your undergraduate education. Keep in mind your undergraduate loan debt when you consider taking on more educational debt; your undergraduate loans will accumulate interest while you’re in graduate school! Beginning in the Fall of 2012, Stafford graduate student loans are no longer subsidized, so interest begin accumulating as soon as you take out the loan (instead of 6 months after you finish, as some of it did in the past). You may be able to get a fellowship (where you don’t have to work) or a graduate assistantship (where you will have to work) to help pay some or all of the costs associated with your degree. But not all schools offer these, and they have different levels of support for their students. Do your research, and make sure you can afford to pay off your education when you are finished.
Article: “Master of Fine Arts Employment Opportunities,” GradSchool.com
Article: “Making a Reasonable Choice,” Chronicle of Higher Education
Article: “Paying for Graduate School,” US News & World Report
Article: “Top Grad Schools for Fine Arts,” Suite101.com
Article: “The 10 MFA Programs That Give You the Most Bang For Your Buck” Blouin ArtInfo
Graduate School Resources
Some graduate schools contact us to let us know about their programs. We’ll post that information here when we get it.