As I begin my MFA studies, I am incredibly excited to have an opportunity to focus on my passion and to be able to work closely with professors, colleagues, and visiting artists in an academic environment and to be able to really focus on my work with so many resources. Still, like any massive time and financial commitment, the jump comes with no little trepidation. So today I turned to all-knowing google and queried things like "MFA jobs" and "is getting an MFA worth it"? The first websites to come up were, of course, glossy overviews from universities offering MFA programs. You can teach college level art they say. People with master's degrees make more on average they note. It will prepare you for a career as a working artist they offer. But of course, like anyone selling you a product (and yes, a degree is a product) they have quite a tendancy to highlight the best case scenarios and gloss over any negatives. And, when you get some info from people who aren't actually selling the degree there are quite a lot of negatives. More debt means less freedom. Besides a job in academia, there aren't really direct correlations to actual careers (as in go to law school, become a lawyer). MFA students, like other grad students, tend to accumulate a lot of debt, but the likely return on that investment isn't very uplifting, unless you are lucky enought to land a job as a proffessor. Jobs in academia are becoming white unicorns- much talked of but exceedingly rare- and most other arts careers don't actually require the degree. Inspite of the obstacles, a lot of people who get MFAs do "make it". It is an unprecidented oppertunity for defining oneself as an artist and making connections. What qualities set those who accell after their degree apart? What skills can current MFA students work to aquire so they have real viability in the labor market? How can we get a return on our degree rather than being stifled by the burden of paying for it? These are questions I will have to answer in addition to who am I as an artist and what is my work about?
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!