I’m just an aspiring student of jewelry like you, but I’ve been
through the academic mill in another field (Ph. D. in social
sciences) and now that I’m retired, I’ve taken some classes in
ceramics at the local State University, 'cause it’s free for
retirees. Lucky me. IDK about jewelry arts, but the artsy environment
in ceramics is somewhat divorced from making a living. The realistic
students realize that, with a BFA they can teach at the high school
level or get an MFA and try for a position at the University level.
As someone who wanted training for opening a pottery studio, I got
wonderful training from my courses, but had no desire to “get
precious” with the MFA students who are turning out “art” with no
thought to whether it is actually something that people would buy. OR
to take courses in drawing, etc., that don’t relate directly to my
ceramics. You may feel differently about that.
I’m an amateur trumpet player and I’d give you the similar advice to
what I’d give someone going to undergrad for trumpet. You need to
know the professor or professors in your area, whether they are good
or not, and whether they are a good fit for you. At your school, I
see only three adjunct profs and one lecturer in jewelry arts. I went
to the three websites I could find and was not bowled over.
It was good modern jewelry, but I did not find it great.
For you, you have an idea of where you style is going and you can see
whether you feel like you could learn anything exciting from these
folks. You would also need to contact them directly and tell them a
little about yourself and what you’d like to accomplish in school. If
they dialog well with you, that’s a plus. You might even see fit, if
they seem open to it, to ask them the question you’re asking us.
Should you go to school or stay in NYC?
If I were you I would also look at what it is going to cost you to
get a BFA and find out from the school what their graduates are able
to do with a BFA. Then compare that with what it will cost you/what
you can earn in NYC as a bench jewelery or intern or whatever. Also
what you can learn “on the job.” Also consider that there are myriad
classes and workshops and schools in the NYC area and you might go to
school part time while working there. Remember that you can easily run
up a $75K to $100K loan bill for an undergrad degree and that number
starts to increase faster than you can pay it down at first once you
get out of school. Talk to some folks who are experts in student
loans, project the amount of debt you’re likely to have and then
you’ll know what you need to make every month just to pay off the
loan. before you think about living expenses. While government
employees, teachers, etc., get some or entire loan forgiveness, I
have not heard about such a program for jewelry designers. Also
consider what would happen if your line does not take off and make
you rich. If you had to depend on a career as a bench jeweler, arts
teacher in elem/high school, how would you fare economically?
I was raised in NYC forty-five years ago, so I know the area.
Expensive to live in the city, but possible to live nearby in Jersey
or on Long Island, etc., and take advantage of jobs or training in
the city. If you play your cards right, you could have less than an
hour commute and you could sketch on the train or bus and read about
the latest jewelry techniques.
Although San Francisco is not exactly Podunk City, the art museums,
arts scene and music performance scene in NYC provide much more brain
food/inspiration for the artist/designer.
Hope some of this is helpful. I’m anxious to see what others say.
Although there are MFAs here, I think the bench jeweler quotient is
high here, so you’re going to get some interesting comments from
those whose degree is from Hard Knocks U.
Hope this is of some help.