My name is Kim and I am deciding which BFA meatals program to
attend. . . .Will the so called "door" open with a RISD degree so
that I can find a job (in NYC) to start paying off loans?.
Hi Kim; OK, this is going to be my opinion, and I expect others to
disagree. Which door are you trying to open? I’m going to write
about one . . . the one I walked through.
If you mean, can you get a job as a jeweler in manufacturing or
retail, sitting at a bench, making or repairing jewelry, the answer
is yes, but they probably won’t be very interested in your degree and
will offer you near minimum wage to polish, do grunt work, and
supposedly train with their more senior bench people (if there is
time). Your best bet is to find a small retailer with a good jeweler
or two on staff, start at a low wage, do what they need you to do,
then take some classes with Alan Revere, Kate Wolf, Blaine Lewis, or
at Paris Tech (did I get that right?), and improve and broaden you
skills. Your employer, if he/she has any sense, will help you pay
for the classes. If they don’t see the value in that, then don’t
consider that job as having a bright future. As you learn, you can
bargain for better wages, and if they don’t want to compensate you
for your increased value to their business, leave and start somewhere
else. Expect to be offered the same wage at the next job as you had
when you left your previous job, and I suggest you don’t take less.
It’s a very slow climb, and a couple years ago, the wages for a top
shelf bench jeweler would have made a non-union bricklayer in Hoboken
choke on his chaw and take a swing at you if you made such an offer.
That is finally changing.
But then you might get lucky. Suppose you found a job with someone
like some of the folks here on this forum? I mean a real artist, who
is also skilled at running a business, who would not let a talented
employee be wasted on menial work for low wages, but would invest
time and money into bringing that person into the fold, as it were,
and teaching them, building their career, sharing the success? What
if, while you were working on that BFA, you were to start looking for
such an individual and lining up a place to land when you got done
My final and best advice is this, after 30 years in the “trade”, and
a BFA, a MFA, etc.: Don’t stay in a job that doesn’t pay you what
you’re worth, won’t give you the tools you need to get the job done,
and thinks that you shouldn’t have to have a life and family. How
will you know if this is the case? Tell you what, you keep my e-mail
address, and keep in touch. I’ll be glad to help you keep your
perspective on things. But remember, in the end, ALL your problems
with the job are finally your responsibility. Hope that makes sense.
David L. Huffman