Deciding on a BFA metals program

My name is Kim and I am deciding which BFA meatals program to attend.
I dropped out of Rhode Island School of Design almost three years
ago. I was an industrial design student that hated the work load.
Since I left school, I took some jewelry classes and loved them. I
thought it would be a great idea to finish my degree in jewelry and
metals. RISD has a program and I like how it focuses on design.
However, graduating from there would put me in a debt of over $50,000.
Will the so called “door” open with a RISD degree so that I can find
a job (in NYC) to start paying off loans. Or should I go to a state
school at New Paltz? New Paltz has a metals program, which is more art
based. My debt will only be $31,000. I want a curriculum that
balances design and art. New Paltz may not be that way.

Any ideas? Suggestions? Comments?



Check out Massachusetts College of Art. They are the only publicly
supported art school in the US. Great metals program at reasonable
tuition. I graduated from Mass Art in '97 and I would love to go


    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
with school?

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

Canada is always affordable . . . east coast has a University of New
Brunswick which runs a Bachelors of Applied Arts, two years at the
New Brunswick College of Craft and Design and UNB, it sounds like
you could get a number of you lower level courses filled by your
previous work. This is in Fredericton, just above Maine. Timothy
Hanford, FACULTY of ARTS, ( runs the program from
the University side. Bronwen Cunningham (
handles the NBCCD side. A little further east there is

Nova Scotia College of Art and Design
5163 Duke Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3J 3J6
TEL (902) 422 7381 FAX (902) 425 2420 

about 4.5 hours drive from Fredericton, it has a Masters program in
Metal I’m told by Bridgette Clavette, my NBCCD metals instructor . .

David Woolley
BAA Year 3

Dear Kim, RISD is prestigous, but pricey- any private shcool is going
to cost you a fortune. Mass Art is awesome, I only visited it for an
afternoon and I wish I were back there! But Boston is expensive, even
though it is the most happening intellectual center of the planet.
And Great Museums. Go look at it, but I’d like to point out that
state universities all over the country have amazing art schools for
cheap. They’re often in boring towns, and you have to put up with
bigtime football, but they can be very reasonable and there’s nothing
to do but work on your art and roadtrip to bigger cities to go
gallery/ museuming. I got good offers from private schools, but went
to LSU at Baton Rouge. Cheap, and cutting edge. I went in painting,
and all my proffs show in New York. The Metal program is tiny, but
everybody had jobs in New York by graduation. Look around. Find out
where the grads of Whosit State are now. That tells you a lot. Find
out where the teachers are showing. Look at their work.

If it has to be RISD, remember that almost every body can get
discounted tuition at private schools, also called “scholarships”. Go
talk to somebody, show them your work, see what they’ll offer you.
Make nice pictures on a good scanner, be well dressed and
proffessional. The issue will be how much they want you, which is how
much they’ll discount for you. I got 75% from Kansas City Art Inst.
and didn’t even ask. If RISD turns up its nose, try elsewhere. It’s a
karmic thing about finding a good fit. Of course, at a state school,
a Pell grant will often cover all the tuition. This is worth
consideration. I went to LSU for three years and lived close to the
bone and got out with 9k in debt. And I can work in a bunch of media,

This is actually part of your education- when you start writing
grants it’s just asking for money, exactly like putting the deal
together to pay for school. And don’t waste your student loan money
on beer. Buy tools.


If it has to be RISD, remember that almost every body can get
discounted tuition at private schools, also called "scholarships". 

Having a son at RISD (an extremely talented one who won numerous
national art awards-and ) I can assure you that getting scholarships
out of RISD is just about impossible. They have too many people
ready and willing to pay full fare for their school. I’m not saying
there isn’t any money available but it is hard as hell to get much
from them. Always worth giving it a try though.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140