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BFA/MFA Vs technical training


#1

After attending a National Portfolio Day and the GIA Career Fair
just recently, I am no closer to deciding what direction I want to
take: a BFA or MFA, or attending a technical school, maybe with some
gemmology studies as well. So I was hoping you all might be able to
help!

I got the impression from the two events that I would either be
preparing myself for an artistic, independent track, or a business &
industry type track. I want the ability to pay my bills, but frankly
I hate business attire, and I don’t do well if I’m not personally
enthusiatic about my products. I’ve done fine selling at boutique
arts and crafts stores (where I was quite enthusiastic about our
creative jewelry by independent artists), but I would be a terrible
fit for a typical fine jewelry store. I would love to make my own
designs and do all of that, but that’s a huge investment of time,
money and spirit that I would expect to be risky, sort of
frightening, and I do have to think about that aforementioned paying
bills…

When I finish up here in Peru I will have hopefully completed their
technical training program, but I don’t know how advanced or
technologically up to date that will be as compared to an American
education… I also never got a BFA, or much art training at all for
that matter, which I feel like I need to improve my skills in the
artistic/design side of things.

When I get back to the states I will have at least a year, more if
the program requires it, and some finances to put towards one or the
other. But I’m also sort of anticipating the possibility that, due
to personal circumstances, I will be on my own and have to figure out
my funding situation after that year, so if I’m still in an expensive
degree program it could become quite an issue.

So other than the time and cost, what are the advantages of doing a
BFA or an MFA versus doing technical training (gemmology included)?
Do you think one’s more valuable than the other, or just different
tracks? Especially when it comes to where you’d be employed and
whether you’d be employed.

Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated; thank you!

Liz Sugermeyer


#2

I have a BA in art, attended GIA for gemology and jewelry
manufacturing, worked as a bench jeweler for a while and am now back
in school for an MFA in metals.

GIA was much more useful than college. I am working on my MFA right
now and I regret going back to school. Sure its fun to make what I
want in college, but I think I will be no better off when I finish.
(I am far enough along in the program that I will finish the degree
rather than quit)

If you want to want to work as a bench jeweler, trade school is the
way to go. It would depend on the college you went to, but from my
experience what you do in a college metals program will help very
little working as a jeweler. Most people I have met are working on
getting an MFA because they want to teach metals.

IMO Only advantage of college is you get to work on your own
designs. Disadvantages are that you have to take a lot of irrelevant
classes (although more at the undergrad level than the grad level).
Also I haven’t met any college trained people that have any concept
of how to do any stone settings other than a simple bezel set cab.

Jon


#3

Dear Liz,

I know you’ll get a lot of answers on this, and I’m not speaking
from the perspective of someone who’s an income-producing jeweler.
But I thought I would share the perspective I now have, after years
of listening and asking.

I have never known anyone with an MFA in jewelry who seemed to have
benefited financially from it, unless they used it to get themselves
a teaching position. I don’t know anyone with a BFA who couldn’t have
benefited just as much from taking art classes, period. I asked
these questions of a panel at SNAG a few years ago-most of them had
MFAs and none of them thought they had made much difference when it
came to “making it in metal,” which was the theme of the conference.

At the time I asked the questions, I was thinking much the way you
are, although I had less training. The best combination seemed to be
art classes and technical school-if you can handle the pace of the
latter, which can be fierce if you’re going full time. Going part
time gives you more time to assimilate things, too. Going someplace
like Metalwerx, if you have the time, might even be better. (Just my
dream: half-time at Metalwerx and half-time at Mass Art.)

The next step seemed to be to get a job working for someone who is
doing the kind of work you like. This is where it gets rough. Such
jobs do exist: some of the “bigger fish” have ateliers. For, example,
I know Barbara Heinrich, Michael Good, and Thomas Mann all hire
people, but I don’t know how many other art jewelers do, or what they
pay, or what they want. This might be a good Orchid topic: ateliers
and how they work. Most threads about “apprentices” and “jobs” on
this forum focus on the kinds of workplaces where you feel you
wouldn’t fit.

But there’s another side to all this. You say it’s frightening. I
can scare you more by saying that I doubt there is anything you
could do to prepare yourself for the US job market right now that
would guarantee that you will be able to pay your bills. You could go
to nursing school and be guaranteed a job, but the conditions might
be so bad that you’d wish you hadn’t. What I see happening is more
than a blip: the world is changing, and the cheese (as the books
says) keeps moving, and nobody knows where it’s going to land.

I do think there’s a solution, though-what a few of us on this forum
would call (at least off list) the daily maintenance of a spiritual
condition. Doing that might not bring you economic security, but it
can ease your fear, and help you to make skillful choices in
situations that might otherwise baffle you. At the moment, I know
more people who have been helped to move in this direction by reading
Eckhardt Tolle than by any other means (aside from working a 12 Step
program). Just reading “The Power of Now,” if it speaks to you, can
calm your anxiety and give you a different perspective. “A New
Earth”–Tolle’s latest-is also great.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Lisa Orlando
Albion, CA, US

PS: I wonder if there are any transcripts, etc., from the “Making It
in Metal” conference. There were several presentations and
discussions that I think really belong in the Orchid archives.


#4

Liz,

I would look for an education that builds and leaves options. Here
in Minneapolis at the Community & Technical College we start with a
one year Certificate in either Repair or Manufacturing. After the
next semester it will be a Diploma in both Manufacturing and Repair.
The fourth semester you can achieve an Associates Degree. That’s
approximately two years. THEN, if you chose, go on for a BA.

We teach all the income and industry skills first and then encourage
the artistic. I have always thought it was wise to learn a skill and
trade as a foundation to any jewelry career. I also will tell all my
students that the creative part of what we do comes with time.
Success in this field also.

I think we still maintain an apprentice style training program even
thought we are associated with Metro State University (a compliment
to the University of Minnesota). There are also NO tests. We grade on
finished jewelry assignments. This would parallel you job
evaluation, what you do with your hands.

You can go to MCTC on a search to see the College and look up
Jewelry for more Or call me at 612-659-6047 direct.

Kindest Regards,

Todd Hawkinson
Jewelry Department


#5

Hello,

I have both a BFA and an MFA and have been in the jewelry business
for about 20 years. I really value my college education. BUT I am not
sure how useful it has been in direct use for my profession.

I think that my education has given me a certain direction and
viewpoint for life which is often at odds with the world in which we
now live. I know that the art history classes and the design classes
[that I took and sometime skipped for more studio time] have been a
great source of knowledge for me.

I made jewelry independently of the business world for about 10
years before I decided to get into the retail, and now R and D, part
of jewelry. I loved being self-employed, we lived the mountains, I
had a great studio, but it was damn hard work. I had a really good
seasonal job, that paid all of our living expenses for the year in
about 8 months work. It was a great way to live for a while.

I am telling you all of this because I guess that what I am wanting
to say is that I wouldn’t waste the money on college jewelry
training. I would most definitely still take art history classes and
basic drawing and design classes. you can get these at Junior
colleges and even online. But I would shy away from studio art
classes, I would take technical training classes somewhere. Almost
all students end up creating jewelry that looks like everyone else’s
of their specific generation or even their teachers.

When I look at jewelry now that is in the AM Craft or other such
publications I see my old jewelry over and over. NOT that anyone is
copying any thing I did or that I copied anyone either. [I didn’t even look at magazines up on the mountain then], it is just the
aesthetic we learned in school 20+ years ago. Either that or there is
a really strong argument for Jung’s theory on the world’s collective
subconscious. Perhaps it is both.

Now look in the trade magazines, JCK, MJSA, etc. you see a totally
different type of jewelry that is based on market driven forces.
Pave, pave and more pave, white gold white gold and more, it is the
same old same old. Yes there are bits and pieces that are different
in both types of magazine but for the most part there isn’t a big
difference anywhere.

If you want to be an ‘artist’ who only makes your own stuff, then
take lots of technical training classes, don’t look in the magazines,
find an independent source of income and work on finding your own
muse for about 15 years. Then find some honest gallery owners who get
you and go for it.

I know this latter part sounds sarcastic but it is not meant to be.
The US is over run with jewelry artist who are trying to make a
living. Many are making a living but it isn’t easy. Our economy is
set up against you. Self-employment taxes, retailers who really make
most of the profit off your work, and so many other jewelers who must
work for dirt wages just to get by, make it really difficult to go it
alone.

You have seen the threads about looking for work in the field as a
bench jeweler, and how region to region is so different. Just having
the same skills as everyone else at the bench won’t get you too far.

I live in a tourist town and it is full of galleries, artist are
knee deep here. The ones who appear successful have either been at it
for 20 years and worked there butts off, [Hats off to you folks!]or
they made a bundle in real estate, inherited money or have some other
means of income. they can afford to spend their time making art. This
is NOT a criticism it is just the reality here as I see it. Been
there done that.

If you want to have a career in the jewelry industry you need to
have a strong grasp of the techniques used today, computer Cad, CNC
milling, drafting, stone setting etc. These skills along with an
understanding of design and color should give you a good base from
where you can get a good job that can be exciting and rewarding.

I think that the jewelry industry needs new blood and imagination,
this is where someone could make a real difference in what the market
offers. So, my advice is join the industry, it is exciting and can be
creative and it will expand your horizons.

I know that I will probably get a lot of dissent on my comments, I
hope so. It will be good to have some discussion on the industry and
art view points. I really sort of fall between the two worlds with my
present job. I loved it when I was just making my art, but I got
tired of the gallery routine and I do not have the personality to do
craft shows. So what I have now is great. I am learning about the
industry all of the time and it is really challenging and engaging…
I know that I am very lucky.

Good luck,
Dennis


#6

Hi Liz,

I am about to tell you what I tell everyone in your position. Go out
there and get some work. Spend some time toiling, and then gazing at
your paycheck. Get to know your bosses, your co-workers, look at how
they do business, who their customers are, what they do to make ends
meet. Do some bench work for industry, or a small jewelry store, or
an independent artist. Do some contract soldering, or stone setting,
etc…Do some design work, do some CAD work, sweep floors…get
your hands really really really dirty. In my opinion, the best way
to find your fit is by trying on as many hats as possible.

I have a BFA and an MFA in jewelry. These days, from 9 to 5, I work
as a designer / product development director for a large jewelery
company. I also do one-of-a-kinds, and custom work out of my home
studio, plus I teach part-time at a local university. I need the
jewelry industry work to pay my bills. I also need the dialog,
intellectual rigor, and community that teaching provides. But I cant
live without my own very direct creative outlet in my own studio.

As a student, I realized early on that you don’t learn much from a
college, or trade program. That’s not to say that these programs are
not of value. There simply isn’t enough time to cover what you need
to know to make a living, or what you need to know to make a
judgment about which avenue to pursue. I got my first job doing
soldering and bench assembly for a local jeweler when I was 19, and
have had a jewelry related job of some kind ever since ( I am
35…yeesh!). That real life experience helped me to understand
what I love and what I hate about jewelry, and helped me to guide my
career towards what I needed creatively and pragmatically.

I wish you the best, and hope to hear how you are doing! Good luck!

Troy Hines

(a woman with a strange name…not a man…not that I am sensitive or
anything…)


#7

Hi Liz,

Have a look at this article at Ganoksin

It may help you define the types of work you are comfortable with
and make that choice. All routes require some handskills and
technical education, so finding the fastest and most efficient way
through that is a good idea.

best
charles


#8

Dear Liz,

I am someone who has done both. My advise: do both! Before getting my
BFA I served an apprenticeship and took technical workshops. My BFA
and MFA where separated by a 25 year career as a bench jeweler,
jewelry production director, GIA student, jewelry industry designer,
freelance designer, and college instructor.

Colleges & Universities focus on an education in creativity and the
arts. Technical schools focus on proficiency with technique not
creativity But without both and the experience gained through both I
may not have ended up as a writer and editor for a jewelry arts
magazine.

The more diverse your training and experience the better you will be
prepared to take advantage of opportunities as they present
themselves.

Don’t worry about the bills, there will always be bills, and there
will always be money (or scrap to sell off) to pay the bills. You
already seem pretty fearless by having got yourself through a
technical training program in Peru, so don’t stop now! Maybe pick up
some design classes cheaply through a community college while working
as a bench jeweler for a repair shop or manufacturer or seek work as
a studio assistant to an Art Jeweler who is selling at the ACC or the
Buyers market shows while finishing your degree.

There are so many options in this field that thinking there is only
one path or track that is the right one is too limiting. The truth of
this was expressed by the metals professor emeritus Helen Shirk, who
recently said at a lecture, “there is no path, the path is where you
walk.”

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228


#10
Do some design work, do some CAD work, sweep floors...get your
hands really really really dirty. In my opinion, the best 

Troy-who-is-more-Helen-than-Troy (LOL) makes many good points, and
I’ll make another one, since there are, I believe, 3 separate threads
following the same theme. My point is Production. People who’ve never
been there think of it as punching out units on an assembly line, and
it can be that. What it also is is a creative environment that’s sole
purpose is making jewelry, filled with multitalented people doing
wonderful things for pay. People like to think that “I would never
sell out MY work for a job”, which is fine, of course. In my work
people throw thinks at me that I’ve never seen before - I get
problems to solve I could never make up myself, I make jewelry I
would never think to make, by myself. I get to turn Troy’s artwork -
someone like her - into reality, and then we all (often) stand back
and say, “That’s beautiful!!” It’s not drudgery, it’s a network of
people contributing to it all. But, to go back to the question - if
you do want to be on the hardware side of it, then you MUST learn
that, which is the technical training part. Look at it this way: If
you have, or intend to get, a MFA, then presumably you have some
drawing or painting skills, maybe much of it. So, what would you
think if I walked up to you and applied for a job, but I couldn’t
draw? Maybe I’m incredibly wishful, yearning to paint, but I have no
skills with a brush or pencil. Are you going to even think about it?
Is anyone serious going to hire a jewelry designer who doesn’t know
how jewelry is made even in theory? Doubtful, not impossible…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#11
tired of the gallery routine and I do not have the personality to
do craft shows. So what I have now is great. I am learning about
the industry all of the time and it is really challenging and
engaging.. I know that I am very lucky. 

Dennis, your ARE very lucky. So am I - I took a different path, but
at this point I’m the one they call the “old-timer”, and I’m not even
that old. I think that your comments were right on target, it’s
pretty
much an image of reality I can agree with 100%. Like that the book
"500 Rings" is actually 50 rings and 450 variations. When you look in
a magazine, though, what you/we mostly see are the classics - the hot
sellers. That doesn’t mean there’s no innovation, though. Our
business lives on the classics, in one form or another. I would point
out the now defunct Nova Stylings (They spearheaded what I call
wall-to-wall diamonds) as a company who just swept the industry away.
It DOES happen, and it could very well be some reader here who makes
it so. But you do have to do your homework, first.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#12

Thanks everyone for your in-depth replies! Looks like the answer
will be to try and do both at the same time (maybe GIA and some
courses at CSULB or SDSU at the same time?) In the world of a foreign
service spouse, making the most of your time in any country is a big
big issue, so I’m glad I’ve been able to get so much insight and help
from so many different people. That and every time I move, the type
of job opportunities I have can change radically so… well, I guess
I want to be able to do it all!

I must say, I’m rather surprised at the number of people who feel
their art degree did nothing for them. Aside from four years of
immersing yourself in the arts, didn’t you feel you got any benefit
of so much time building that creative side of yourself? Rhetorical
question - I just see some skeptics in the crowd! Of course, there’s
a lot of people who feel like the college degree they got was a
waste and wish they had done something different - myself included!

The thing is that, after attending the college and career fairs, and
looking through several ads (from recruiters at the fair and online,
etc) and industry publications, I don’t think I’ve seen an ad for a
creative designer or assistant jewelry designer or whatever the
company is calling it that doesn’t state “BFA” in their
qualifications, so it must matter to someone somewhere… I’m going
to keep looking at ads and trade mags and talking to industry folks,
in any case.

This coming year is going to be a wild ride - it’ll be the first
time I’ve lived without a roommate or partner to share household
things, I’ll be attending SOMETHING full-time, doing some hard core
travelling to meet up with my husband a few times that year (he’ll be
in Afghanistan for the year, hence why I have training time in the
first place)… oh, and a very emotionally needy pup dog ;-P. I know
some of you are probably going “welcome to real life”, but this is a
first of having no direction (yet), no decided location (yet), and
depending on where I go, noone I know in the local area, so I’m
trying to get all the facts I can to get everything sorted! Thanks
again for all of your help folks!

Liz Sugermeyer


#13
I got the impression from the two events that I would either be
preparing myself for an artistic, independent track, or a business
& industry type track. 

Yup. That’s true.

I suppose money is an object? It usually is.

BFA’s are a waste of time.

Do you have a BA already?

Go to trade school, then get your MFA if you still want to.

And don’t set yourself up for a career you know you’ll hate.

Elaine

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#14
So other than the time and cost, what are the advantages of doing
a BFA or an MFA versus doing technical training (gemmology
included)? Do you think one's more valuable than the other, or just
different tracks? 

Here we go. I shall risk offending everyone, just to help Liz.

A BFA is a waste of time. If you need an undergraduate degree, get it
in something sensible, if not business, something useful.

An MFA is kind of an indulgence unless you want to teach as a career.
If your goal is NOT to teach, then why spend the money? (Yes, yes
folks, I know, years of training, etc. depends on where you go.)

You are asking two huge questions at once:

  1. What training should I get?

  2. What career do I want?

YOU must determine question 2 first, then I can tell you exactly
what training to get.

The advantages/disadvantages of the different tracks are they
prepare you for different careers. A trade school education will
stand you in good stead in either industry or the artistic self
employed route. An MFA will not help you much in the industry, and
may hurt you.

Elaine

Who has not had any coffee yet an apologies in advance for offending
you.

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#15

Gosh, Liz! I’m afraid that I gave you the wrong impression. I really
value what I learned from college. Art schools really help build
intellectual rigor, and creativity, and a grounded understanding of
the history of one’s craft. My time in school for both
degrees…what a treasure. My criticism is not of any program, but
of how students use them…

I think one needs to know more about the world of jewelery than
college or trade school can offer. It really helps you get the most
out of your education, and learn about where you fit in personally,
if you also work in the field WHILE you are a student. You will
develop much stronger bench skills, and get a sense of where your
skills are lacking so that you can really focus. Your options for
work when you are in need of money will be more diverse and more
lucrative. Plus, your creative work will be stronger, because you
will have the chops to build the heck out of anything!

School of any kind is somewhat of an alternative universe. It is
very different from the real world. It helped me to find my way by
enjoying the comfort of that alternate universe, while making daily
visits to the real world.

AT Work:

I learned that the romantic notion of making my own production
line…was not for me, YICK! I HATE making the same thing over and
over and over. Hats off to the folks out there who can do that. It
would have been a shame for me to romance the idea of that for four
years as a student, then hate every minute of it after school. But
at the same time, doing this for a paycheck taught me the importance
of learning how to work quickly and efficiently, and how to work
fast without doing really Crappy work. You get your bench skills
down. Time is money, that might not be cool in art school, but it is
the truth, and students do themselves no favors by avoiding the
truth. As an assembler, or stonesetter, or any of the many jobs I
have done for $$, I could look to the next bench, and see that the
jeweler beside me had set 5 stones in the time it took me to set
1…and his settings were beautiful while mine were messy. I could
lean over and watch him work, ask him to show me the his tools,
engage in an exciting dialog with a very skilled individual.

At work:

I learned that I LOVE to do repairs. And LOVE to solder. And LOVE
CAD and to laser weld, and on and on… And learned to do things
well that I hate to do, which I did not have the discipline to do as
a student. I learned the importance of creativity in design, and
problem solving. I learned some good and bad ways to market yourself
as a product line, or as a jeweler, or as an artist. I learned that
I had to be versatile, and superb, and fast. Period.

At School:

I learned that I love to draw, and love to write. That I am
fascinated by the earliest jewelry (10,000 BC and earlier). That the
computer is a powerful tool creatively, and practically. I connected
with remarkably talented artists, teachers, peers. A good art
program gives you the courage to think that anything is possible,
and that is worth going into debt for if you ask me.

In my humble opinion, if you are inclined towards BOTH the creative
and the technical, go to college, and work your butt off in the
field in your spare time. The two together are a well rounded
education. I do not think that most trade programs successfully
foster creativity, and most college programs do not address how to
make a living. Getting out there in the jewelry job market while you
are a student teaches both.

Troy (the windbag)


#16
I'm rather surprised at the number of people who feel their art
degree did nothing for them. Aside from four years of immersing
yourself in the arts, didn't you feel you got any benefit 

I will say that my schooling consists of one semester of a University
jewelry class, and the GIA diamond course. The rest has been
on-the-job. When you talk about jewelry design, though, I think
you’re talking about two different things. I am a jewelry designer. I
design a piece of jewelry, and then sit down and make it. The other
kind of jewelry designer does renderings, and they are made by
someone else. My kind of designer is probably the most typical, and
it’s obvious that you need technical skills for the execution part.
The other kind is more rare, largely because there’s less call for
it. Mostly only the very large houses have in-house designers of that
sort. Nowadays there are more CAD designers, just doing CAD, but
those aren’t renderers per se. There is a free-lance business -
door-to-door designers who show samples and then sell designs sight
unseen. (because even a glance of a design is enough). A word of
caution, too. I see many very nice renderings that aren’t actually
jewelry designs. Someone posted some here, lately. Very nice work,
very nice designs. But where’s the orthoscopic view? What’s
underneath, where does that curve come from, where do the prongs come
from, how does all this turn into a ring shank? It’s true that a good
jeweler can take that drawing and turn it into a ring, though I’ve
even seen some “impossible” designs - drawn well, but cannot be done
in 3d, like Escher. That, again, is where a knowlege of the mechanics
and engineering (I liken it to building a bridge) of jewelry is
needed. I see drawings of pretty dots on paper, just lovely. But if
you count, you’ll have 250 prongs, and there’s no way shown for
anything to connect to anything else, they’re just floating in space.
Yes, it’s a jewelry design, but it’s actually only 1/2 of one…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#17

Dear Liz;

Here is an answer to the rhetorical side. I don’t think that you
really get the chance to build up your creativity while in
undergraduate school. It is necessary to take so many non art
classes in school while an undergraduate that your studio time is not
that great unless you spend all of your free time in the studio,
[which I did]. Perhaps if you went to RISD or Cleveland school of the
arts or somewhere similar you would have more built in studio time.
BUT just because you spend all of your time in a studio doesn’t
necessarily help your creativity. You have to have instructors who
are really interested in helping you develop your art. I loved my
time in school, I had a scholarship so I was able to go. I didn’t
have the funds to allow me to go otherwise. So, for me college was a
great experience, but I wish I had had the opportunities that money
would have offered, like being able choose a better art school. I
went to Univ of Ill. it was pretty good, great school really, but not
an art school per say. The only time I ever see anyone’s name that
went to schools with me is if they are teaching somewhere.
Undergraduate school has become a place for kids with money to spend
4 or 5 years. It isn’t going to help that much unless you go to a
school that is really trying to help their students build a career.
If you want to go to get a BFA check out the programs that really
work at placing their students in the industry. Otherwise you are
just preparing yourself to go to grad school to teach. I haven’t had
my express yet so I better go get it. I know I am sounding old and
cranky.

Good luck,
Dennis


#18

I have been thinking about this thread allot. I think a BFA/MFA is
something I would like to get someday when I retire but the
necessity of making money has got in my way of more etherial
pursuits. I wish I had paid more attention to entrepenuerial and
business education. The art/craft is my passion and I pursue
education in those areas all the time. The business stuff has been
expensive and often demoralizing to learn on the fly.


#19

I have been reading the various posts on this subject and decided to
enter the fray. I think that it is all about your intention. Do you
want to be a technician only or do you want to have the training to
be a designer and also have the technical ability and understanding
of how things work? My background is in the arts with both a BFA and
MFA. During the six years of undergraduate and graduate work I got a
solid background in design and in my MFA program focused primarily in
furniture and exhibition design with a minor in metals under Richard
Thomas at Cranbrook. It was seven years later that I started to make
jewelry. From that point on I have been primarily self-taught. It
certainly would have been easier to have gone on to a school like the
Revere Academy and learned the technical skills that I didn’t learn
having a minor in metals as part of a MFA program. Life didn’t work
out that way. I would suggest to the person who began this thread,
decide where you want to go; if your ambition is to be a technician
find a good trade school and enroll. If you want be a designer as
well as have the technical skills, do both. I do agree with Elaine in
that you might even be better off starting with a technical school.
If you do this first you will have a big advantage when you enter any
BFA and/or MFA programs. Unlike your fellow students, you will start
out with the ability to produce your designs and truly focus on the
designing side of it while your fellow students will be spending a
lot of time figuring out how to do it. I do not agree with Elaine
that “BFA’s are a waste of time”, especially if you intend to go on
to an MFA. To enter many MFA programs there are many pre-requisite
core courses that would be covered in a BFA program.

Joel Schwalb
www.schwalbstudio.com


#20
An MFA will not help you much in the industry, and may hurt you. 

Unless you want to teach fine arts at a university or in a secondary
school where it is required, an MFA in the industry is about as
advantageous as an extra thumb. Advanced degrees do not necessarily
make you a better craftsman or a more gifted artist. That has to come
from within. Once you’ve learned the principles, the rest is
practice,practice, practice.

Dee


#21

I can only hope that there are schools that are starting to teach the
business end of producing art along with design and technique. Some
times I think the institutions have the mentality that: We did it
this way and you should too. Craft versus art is a very old debate. I
was at a weekend metal extravaganza called “Uncommon Smiths” at
Eastern Michigan university in the early 70’s and that was a very hot
topic. It behooves an art student to get the full spectrum of classes
if degree is what you want. When I was in college…the 70’s the
technical schools just weren’t there and so it was a college degree I
got (painting major as we did not have a metals major!) With luck and
determination, I am a jeweler with a patchwork quilt training…a
little of this and a little of that…if only I could have gone to
Revere Academy or another at that time!!!

Good luck to all of you students.
Mary