I got my MFA from a “top 20” (U.S. News) fine art school and ended up teaching college for a few years. I’m not saying that to brag just that I’ve jumped through all the hoops to get what I perceived was a valuable degree. I did all they asked, put up with all the bullshit, kissed all the ass, etc. As you can guess I’m about to tell you it wasn’t worth it for me, though it might be for other people.
Again, this doesn’t happen to everybody but I’ve seen it so many times it’s worth the warning. An MFA program has the potential to suck all of the life and energy and passion you have for your area right out of you. Love painting? You may not after 3 years of workshop and critique and putting up with some of the most petty shit you’ve ever experienced. An MFA program is a great opportunity to focus on your work for a while. It’s also a great opportunity to get pigeonholed to the point you can’t escape.
Here’s my bullet point list of warnings:
an MFA is a college teaching certificate and really nothing more. Your portfolio may improve and that will help in other ways but the degree doesn’t get you much except the ability to be a college instructor and maybe a professor someday.
if you have to borrow money to do this maybe you shouldn’t. If you’re debt free and bitter at the end, that’s one thing. If you owe $20,000 and feel it was a waste then that really sucks.
if you think the MFA will make other people look at you as a “real artist” then forget it.
if you are a dabbler or experimenter then think again. An MFA works best for the artist that can figure out a shtick and stick with it for years.
if you are overly sensitive to criticism then don’t bother
if you’re not a competitive person then think twice
if you don’t have a passion for teaching then reconsider the MFA route
if you have a low tolerance for pretentious douchebags then forget it. Of course not everyone is a douche, but there are enough that you might finish wondering if you’re a douche or not.
A guy I knew from grad school used this metaphor for the MFA journey: It’s like getting shot out of a circus cannon into a pile of shit. Of course your mileage may vary.
Are there any Tumblr’s who are getting an MFA or have an MFA? How did you choose your program? Was it worth it, in your opinion? Where did you go? Any other tips or recommendations?
I appreciate all of my followers and I know it isn’t Unfollow Friday, and I’m way over my following/follower ratio and it’s getting a bit hard to keep up with the rate at which my dashboard updates. I will only do this once in a while and I’m not with the “in” crowd of Tumblr, but can anybody recommend me some good Tumblr folk that they might think I like?
Yes. You can start by following me.
Well, I suppose. I just unfollowed everyone. I presume your name wasn’t attained by some incredible feat and is just aligned with your favorite band/song.
I appreciate all of my followers and I know it isn’t Unfollow Friday, and I’m way over my following/follower ratio so it’s getting a bit hard to keep up with the rate at which my dashboard updates. I will only do this once in a while and I’m not with the “in” crowd of Tumblr, but can anybody recommend me some good Tumblr folk that they might think I like?
“It is only too true that a lot of artists are mentally ill- it’s a life which, to put it mildly, makes one an outsider. I’m all right when I completely immerse myself in work, but I’ll always remain half crazy.”—Vincent van Gogh