The MFA Guidebook for Studio Artists


The MFA Guidebook for Studio Artists

This blog is intended as a guide for potential and current MFA students, focusing on those in the craft disciplines. It will primarily focus on tips for prospective students, but will also address the needs of those currently working toward their degrees. By sharing my own experience, articles I find and interviews I conduct, I will work to offer guidance to studio artists who may be nervous to start the journey alone so that they can have the same phenomenal opportunity and experience that I had in my MFA program.

Location: Kent, Ohio
Members: 68
Latest Activity: yesterday

About this Blog:

When I decided that I wanted to apply to an MFA program, I had been out of school for two years. I quickly became aware of the fact that I hadn’t the slightest idea of where to start. My first thought was to search online, and though Google returned thousands of websites for MBA’s and law students, I couldn’t find a single comprehensive resource that guided me as a prospective studio art graduate student. And so I went on to contact past professors and anyone who knew anyone who knew an MFA student, so that I could piece together answers to my many questions: What does my portfolio need to look like? Which school and program are right for me? What can I expect at an interview? What can I expect from an MFA program?

I ended up with an acceptance letter and Graduate Assistantship at Kent State University, but there were a lot of times during my journey when I felt lost, confused and overwhelmed. It was then that the idea first came to me to write a blog for blossoming artists like me thinking about an MFA: an all-inclusive guide to graduate school for studio artists, focusing on crafts media. The resulting blog, The MFA Guidebook for Studio Artists, will include information on finding schools, the application process, how to create a portfolio, funding opportunities, differences in programs, what to expect and more. It will also go on to address needs of current graduate students, such as how to take advantage of your time in school and options after graduation. It will include entries based on my own experience, events I attend, articles I read and interviews I conduct with faculty and fellow students.

After finding my own way into the doors of an MFA program, I feel that I have a great deal of insight to offer prospective students. This blog will aim to offer guidance to those who may be nervous to start the journey alone so that they can have the same phenomenal opportunity and experience that I’m having now in my MFA program.

Below: Me in my graduate studio at Kent State; Modern Woman, T-shirt transfers on cotton, turf, fabricated sterling silver and copper, 2008, 2½” x 3” x ¾”

Discussion Forum

Redefining the Residency | Alliance of Artists Communities Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon

Started by Jessica Todd. Last reply by Harriete Estel Berman yesterday. 21 Replies

Photo by Erica Thomas, The ARTIST IN RESIDENCE sign is lit whenever someone at the house is doing creative work. The first standout theme from the…Continue

Tags: mother, child, children, home, at

Alliance of Artists Communities Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon

Started by Jessica Todd Oct 14. 0 Replies

Alliance of Artists Communities Annual Conference in Portland, OregonLast week I attended the Alliance of Artists Communities annual conference in Portland, Oregon, with my organization, the…Continue

Tags: review, conference, inclusion, administration, artists

DIY Artist Residency: In Residence at Home

Started by Jessica Todd. Last reply by Jessica Todd Dec 23, 2015. 8 Replies

I work full time as the Residency Coordinator at the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida. Seven times a year I watch a group of wide-eyed artists arrive with brainfuls of possibilities, work intensely for five weeks, and emerge at the end marveling at all they’ve achieved and reflecting upon a life-changing experience. It’s fulfilling, inspiring, and the very thing that makes my job more than a desk job. But,…Continue

Tags: media, performance, dance, photography, glass

MFA Student Interview Series | Gaelin Craighead

Started by Jessica Todd Nov 6, 2015. 0 Replies

MFA Student Interview Series | Gaelin CraigheadGaelin Craighead received a BFA from Louisiana Tech University in 2013. She is now in her third year at Florida State University working toward her MFA in Studio Art. Gaelin's website: us…Continue

Tags: blog, student, jessica, guidebook, guide

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of The MFA Guidebook for Studio Artists to add comments!

Comment by The Justified Sinner on January 30, 2012 at 8:47am

Tom, couldn't agree more! One of the most important - and often overlooked - qualities in someone teaching art subjects is "self-reflection". There are rather too many people resting on their laurels.

I don't know Alan, but if you want to put me in touch with him, I'd be delighted to meet and show him round.

Comment by Tom Supensky on January 30, 2012 at 8:38am

By the way, Dauvit...say hello to my good friend Alan Phillips if you see him.  He's retired from teaching, but I think he will be in your territory soon.

Comment by Tom Supensky on January 30, 2012 at 8:35am

Hello Dauvit...well stated.  Yes, honesty is the best policy. Along with all the stress of being a student of the arts, it is important to clear the smoke from time to time and take a sincere look at yourself, where you are going, your abilities, and other idiosyncracies. The best you can be comes from within.

   It's better to inspire than influence.


Comment by The Justified Sinner on January 30, 2012 at 1:30am

I have to say that I view one of my roles as a tutor as being that of preventing my students from emulating me! Not that many of them try; perhaps a couple over the years. Unfortunately, we can all name places where emulating - or at least flattering - the tutors gets you your degree. Perhaps this is not so bad in the US? It is a bit of a problem in some places in Europe.

Honesty is the main thing. I always go on at length - probably boring length! - about the importance of artistic integrity and honesty and being true to one's vision.

Comment by Tom Supensky on January 29, 2012 at 8:56pm are fortunate to have such an open minded head of department.  Regardless of that, listen to everything and everybody and then take from it those aspects that work best for you but don't forget the rest as they may someday have some significance for your next stage of development as an artist and a person.  Good luck with your studies.

Comment by Jessica Todd on January 29, 2012 at 8:12pm

That is great advice, Tom, and a very good point to bring up for other readers. Part of the reason I chose to attend Kent State was because the head of the department, Kathleen Browne, was very open to my work moving in different directions. She encourages her students to pursue the kind of work they're passionate for, even if that means exploring other media (in my case, fibers). In my interview and still today I feel very free to follow my work where it leads me, rather than being pushed in one direction or another by faculty or classmates. This is an important thing to keep in mind when visiting programs during the application process.

Comment by Tom Supensky on January 29, 2012 at 6:22pm

What ever your specific area of study is, always keep in mind that the work you make and the direction you take should be based on who you are as an individual.  Just because you admire another person's work, your teacher, fellow student, or other artists, remember that they are all different from you.  Be yourself and don't let those responsible for your degree push you to something you are not.  I could say more on an individual basis once I know a little about you and see what you are doing at the moment.  


Members (68)


Latest Activity

Victoria Lansford commented on Victoria Lansford's photo

Mysteries Entwined

"Thank you so much, Christine! "
5 hours ago
The Justified Sinner posted a blog post

Perfect Live

Cheerful wall in Digbeth, Birmingham.I started off this week with a visit to Digbeth to deliver some of the work for "…See More
11 hours ago
Marina Sheetikoff liked Karen Lester's group Boundless Boundaries
11 hours ago
Karen Lester and Stephen Saracino are now friends
15 hours ago
Brigitte Martin replied to Liz Steiner's discussion Halstead Design Challenge in the group SNAG
"That's perfect, Lieta! Love your international  outlook. You are so right, 10 years ago, none of this could have happened this quickly and on this scale. Enjoy, let us know how you're coming along."
17 hours ago
Lieta Marziali replied to Liz Steiner's discussion Halstead Design Challenge in the group SNAG
"Hi! I managed to get one this year, mainly because I practically got there within the first few hours of it going on sale (despite the time difference here in the UK!). It's going to be my first Halstead challenge but the project fits very much…"
17 hours ago
Brigitte Martin replied to Liz Steiner's discussion Halstead Design Challenge in the group SNAG
"Hello Adriane, Very good to hear about your being prompted to use materials you wouldn't otherwise. That's another valid good point for people to consider: breaking out of your trot, trying something new often changes how we look at our…"
17 hours ago
Jason Kishell posted photos
17 hours ago


  • Add Videos
  • View All

Masthead Credits

Jason Kishell, "Smug Mug"


Get the book on Amazon!

What happens when professional craft artists are allowed to let loose when they get to explore their mischievous and irreverent sides? Find out in this groundbreaking book, which, for the very first time, reveals an entirely different side of serious craft. Hundreds of images and essays from all over the world allow you to gain insight into the creative minds of contemporary artists like never before.

A variety of traditional craft media are shown, such as furniture, ceramics, glass, fiber, jewelry, and metal, as well as a number of unique, nontraditional techniques. Even a bus shelter in London gets a creative make-over that is sure to make you smile!

The topics range from the playful to the serious, but the message is always most enjoyable. Humor in Craft is a treasure trove for craft aficionados and humor enthusiasts alike.

More information about the book, exhibitions, press and other hurrahs here.

WINNER GOLD MEDAL, 2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards

FINALIST, 2012 USA Best Book Awards

© 2016   Created by Brigitte Martin.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service