Artists questioned. What should a person consider when applying to art school?

Phantom  2013  acrylic on canvas  18 X 18 in.

Paul Behnke, Phantom
acrylic on canvas
18 X 18 in.

All artists have questions they seek answers to. Sometimes they ask themselves the same questions over and over again, and sometimes they seek out friends and mentors who provide answers to their questions. If you ask the same question to several people you will most likely get several different answers, and then it is up to you to select the answer that is best for you. So the question is…

What should a person consider when thinking about applying to art school?

Paul Behnke  “Cost is probably the first thing I would consider. Higher education is expensive and it is no fun to graduate and try to begin a new phase of your life with crippling debt. So I would consider state schools over smaller private institutions.

Secondly I would consider what city I wanted to live and work in. If I wanted to try and make work and show in New York I would try to attend a school there. It is easier to make connections and build a community when you are younger and both are integral to having a successful fine arts career.

And last I would suggest not attending grad school (for a studio art degree) unless you can get a lot of financial help (not loans). Instead take your art seriously, make the most of your undergrad experience, move to a big city and get to work.”

Monica LaceyOkay, let’s see – I spent 10 years deciding on an art school to attend!

When applying to art school, spend some time developing a portfolio. Take it seriously, seek mentors who will help you refine what you submit and critique your work.

A person should think about the kind of work they’re interested in making, and then finding the right educational atmosphere to learn how to think that way/produce that kind of work…they should go meet instructors/professors and be sure they can learn from them and form a relationship there. Look at the work produced by graduates of schools you’re considering and see if it appeals to you.

They should look for as much financial support as possible in the form of grants, bursaries, awards so that they are able to exit school with minimal – or no – debt.

They should look for a school that offers some entrepreneurship training since they will be starting a small business when they graduate if they become a full-time artist.

They should make friends with the registrar so that they can take extra courses without paying extra tuition. They should be prepared to spend all of their free time dedicated to their studies so that they squeeze every last drop of juice out of the experience before they’re turned loose into the cold real world.”

MP LandisA person should consider what they think that going to an art school will achieve. They should consider what would happen if they spent as much time, energy and money on developing their work and career as they will going to an art school. It definitely works for some people but art schools (and all schools in general these days) churn out way more graduates than any market can support. I know many young, talented artists who are so financially strapped from paying back school loans that they have to resort to working full time day jobs just to make minimum payments on their loans. I would also ask that one considers their commitment to making art, if they need the structure of going to an art school to be an artist, they probably do not have what it takes to continue making work after they are through.”

Stephen WrightDepends on how you view your future? Are you willing to take on tremendous debt for a degree that, in reality, only opens up careers that mostly pay poverty wages and guarantees you a minimum of 20 years of struggling just to survive while having only scraps of time to make art? Then go for it! What seems to a young person and their parents as a responsible choice, probably isn’t. It may sound condescending, but, an aspiring young artist would be better served by a degree in a more practical field. Higher education is more about discipline than knowledge. An art degree is like any other degree, one from an elite school will give you more leverage and connections than one from the school that most of us can, in practicality, afford to attend. While you may live for art, art feels no responsibility for your life what-so-ever.”

And the next question is…

If you have a question you’d like answered please let me know. If it is interesting maybe I’ll use it.

Have you met…MP Landis?

An introduction can be a wonderful thing. You can meet interesting people, and make new friends. You can be introduced to your new favorite foods, books, music, or artist.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite artists. Some of whom I’ve been familiar with for years, and others I’ve only recently been introduced to.

The person I’d like to introduce is the artist MP Landis.

wd5023 mixed media on folded paper 8.5 x 9.75" april 2011

mixed media on folded paper
8.5 x 9.75″
april 2011

Artist statement
“All of my artwork deals with the functionality of process, and the materials at hand, in different ways. Another important aspect is the willingness to become lost in what is at hand and the resulting tension between resolution and allowing things to remain lost.” MP Landis

sg12.037 2012 mixed media on folded vellum 8 x 8 inch

mixed media on folded vellum
8 x 8 inch


“M P Landis’s current work is a palimpsest of the processes, materials and emotions of his existence. He has collaborated with musician Tom Abbs, visual artists Michael Sanzone and Les Seifer, writers Nick Flynn and Fred Schmalz, and others.
Landis has taught at the summer workshop program at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. He is a Creative and A&R Consultant for Northern-Spy Records. His work is represented in many private and public collections, including the New York Public Library, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the DeCordova Museum, the Naples Museum of Art, and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Before moving to Brooklyn in 1996, he lived year-round in Provincetown, MA, and spent his childhood traveling around the world with his Mennonite missionary parents.”

wd4952 mixed media on folded paper 8.5 x 9.75" april 2011

mixed media on folded paper
8.5 x 9.75″
april 2011

Other material relating to MP Landis.

Artist Website: MP Landis.

Saatchi Online: MP Landis.

ahtcast: MP Landis.

If you liked this introduction please check out the Previous and Next.