As the country goes “back to school,” I’d like to lend my voice to the case for an education in the arts.
And yes, it’s personal.
It’s no secret that my youngest daughter is a recent Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) graduate. Let me start by describing the reaction I often get when I share this information. It’s generally a very glazed look followed by, “OH, that’s NICE. And what is she going to do for a living?”
I would argue that earning an art degree sets a young person up for many options in life. The skills art students acquire are easily related to business, marketing, postgraduate work in the arts, education, and law.
“Anything she wants.”
I believe that from the bottom of my soul.
Why do I think that? Let me share why I believe the study of fine art prepares one for the rigors of the working world.
- First of all, those who study art still have to focus on and excel at their basic academic classes prior to being accepted to an art program. BFA graduates must pass the same math, science, language, history, and all the basic courses that any student needs to earn an undergraduate degree. It’s not fluff and there are no shortcuts.
- It’s not easy to get accepted into a fine art program. BFA's have to demonstrate their artistry and technical proficiency by assembling a portfolio of their work and offering it up for presentation before being accepted into a chosen course of study. Why is this a big deal? It requires guts, confidence, and a certain mastery of craft — all valuable in learning to sell oneself in pursuit of a passion.
Title banner for her BFA show.
Creatures, An Anthropomorphic Study in Ceramic and Paint
- Once in a program, art students learn how to 'go to work.' There is no hiding from the studio, and very little opportunity to hide behind books in art classes.
- Along these lines, to survive and thrive, art students must learn to be creative on a deadline, often working with limited materials to create paintings, drawings, or sculptures alike — again and again and again. They must also defend their work in ‘critiques’ with professors and peers which teaches students to take a point of view on not only their own work but their classmates as well, developing communication and presentation skills while developing a strong sense of individuality as an artist and mentor to their peers, fostering both teamwork and healthy competition. To me, as an employer functioning in a rapidly changing environment, I want to hire team members and future leaders who can work within constraints of tight schedules and budgets and use their energy and imagination to drive results.
- Art students learn to organize gallery shows and events, learning not only how to work professionally in a public venue but how market the exhibit and themselves, an invaluable skill in the business world.
Painting on board. Is this human or animal?
- On these same lines, artists are trained to see opportunities as opposed to obstacles, to be inventive and persistent, qualities invaluable in all fields.
My girl with her signature piece
- In our highly visual society, where people no longer really read, I am convinced that those who can communicate visually in any field will excel.
- No one gets through school without a certain amount of smarts, discipline, organization, and commitment to a goal. I would argue that an art degree sets a young person up for so many options in life- in business (art related or not) marketing, post graduate work in the arts, education or law - truly a world of opportunity awaits for creative, educated people. And if none of those options work out, guess what else that art student can be?
Up close: Sculpture As Torso or Rock Formation?
Self-promotion is an invaluable skill in the business world.