Friday, July 14, 2006

“Professional Practices” classes

In my grad school, the MFA students were required to take a professional practices class. It was technically a photography class, titled “Portfolio Photography,” but it was really professional practices, with a strong emphasis on photography. The class was intended for students who were about to graduate and who were going to apply for teaching jobs or send packets to galleries. Some undergrads would take the class to work on their application packets for grad school.

I think more schools are incorporating this type of class into the studio art curriculum. It’s important for art students to have at least some idea of how to promote themselves when they get out in the “real world.”

My painting professors would include some of this real world advice every now and then, too, by requiring reading (such as Taking the Leap) and discussions. We would often watch art-related videos during our class lunch breaks. I remember one in particular that was about the business of art (I think it was one of those Art City videos).

Someone in the video was talking about how he tells his art students that they should just drop out of school, take the $40,000 they would have spent on school, and spend $1000 each on 40 parties. His point was that if you want to make it in the art world, the MFA isn’t important, but who you know is.

Depressing, no?

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the class I took and what I learned.

Photographing Artwork
Since it was a photography class, we spent some time on basic photography, how a camera works, lighting, developing slides, etc. How to use a light meter and set up lights in the studio to shoot 2-D and 3-D work.

20 slides of 2-D work shot in the studio (including artwork shot from books), 20 slides of 3-D work shot in the studio, and 20 slides of 3-D sculpture shot outdoors.

Self portraits (for promotional purposes).

Artist’s Statement
Elements of artist’s statements, writing exercises, and submit examples of good statements from other artists.

Resume or Curriculum Vitae
What to include, formatting, editing, etc.

Presentation Techniques
How to work a slide projector. How to give a successful slide presentation. Attend and review artist’s lectures.

Power Point
How to scan in slides, adjust them in Photoshop, and import them into a PowerPoint presentation along with resume and artist’s statement.

There were two final projects:
1. Create an attractively designed packet to promote yourself that includes 20 slides, resume, artist’s statement, self portrait, printed image of one piece of artwork, and CD with PowerPoint presentation (also to include 20 images, artist’s statement, and resume).

2. Present a 20-minute slide lecture on your work, using no more than 40 slides.

The class was very beneficial. I used much of what I learned to create my proposal packets that I sent to art centers and galleries. The practice giving presentations was also very valuable.

Have you taken a similar class? What do you think of these types of classes? Should they be required in university art programs?


EraserQueen said...

Hi there,

I just wanted to say I have found your journal extremely interesting and informative!

I do think more practical courses should be offered for any arts program, and a class or two in business (particularly contract law and other legalities related to art.) Too many art students have no clue how to make it in the art world, which if you want to have any amount of success, constitutes as the business world as well.

If you're wondering just who I am, I found your site through Swap-bot, we are both in an art Swap together.

I really like your encaustic paintings, this method really fascinates me and I love your sense of color and texture, two things I have problems with! I got my first glimpse of encaustic art in a student/teacher show I was in at a local gallery, and one of the prof's did a great encaustic of a chicken’s head. He took little blocks of wood and set them in rows then did the chicken in pastels, and added the wax over the top, the texture was to die for and I really liked the 1x1 inch blocks of wood, it really added to the texture.

Anyhow, I enjoyed looking at your work! I hope we end up as partners in the swap.


Deanna said...

Thanks for leaving your comment, Annie. I appreciate the feedback. Yes, knowledge of contracts and other legal issues is definitely important. That's something that the class I took didn't cover at all. The Michels book, How to Survive... does touch on that some, at least by giving some basic guidelines and lists of resources. Please check back often and let me know what you think!

AnJaka said...

Great Work!!!
this is a good link you can refer Art Collection

zelia said...

Oh absolutely people should learn practical things in art school. Marketing, professional business practices, all of that. And I think it's true that a lot of it comes down to who you know. Everything that's happened for me so far with my art has been because of a friend.

Hilary said...

Hi! I'm writing my thesis on the topic of Professional Devleopment/Practices at universities. Where did you go to school at? do you know of other colleges that offer this same course?