Recently, a student from the UK contacted me about doing an interview for his program. I’ve decided to share a small portion of it here with you. These are my answers about my education and starting up.
I decided to go to art school when I was prompted by my high school drawing teacher. I had no intention of majoring in metals, but took an intro to jewelry course as an elective. I then took a metalsmithing course and that was where I figured out that this was what I was meant to do be doing.
As far as fitting me for a career in the industry… We did have a required “Business of Crafts” course that helped with basic things like writing your CV and developing a pricing structure. I really wish that more general business classes had been required or that perhaps the crafts business course was taught by a working artist rather than the head of the jewelry program who’d been working in academia for 30 years. It would’ve been nice to have some direction in how to market your work – approaching galleries, finding calls for entry, etc.
After college I ended up taking about five years off from metalwork mostly because I couldn’t afford studio space and my landlords wouldn’t allow a torch or loud hammering. I got back into it by auditing classes at a community college so that I would have access to their studio. This helped me get back into creating and fit nicely into my budget.
I haven’t received any grants or funding, but I did have some family money that I used when setting up my own studio once we bought a house. Other than that I have had to work part time in order to afford to keep making my art. Each year gets better, but the bad economy has made it harder to get sales and gallery representation.
Layne Freedline is a jewelry artist from Lancaster, PA who went to Tyler School of Art and uses hammered textures and awesome agates and jaspers in her work. Sound familiar?
I met Layne at the PA Guild of Craftsmen show in Wilmington and she was one of the emerging artists. Her work is great and I love the beautiful stones that she works into her pieces. She also pays attention to her chains and the backs of her pieces, so you know that she’s serious about her craftsmanship.
I’ve mentioned on here before that I went to art school and have a BFA in jewelry & metalsmithing, but not all jewelers start out (or finish) that way. But for those of you who are interested in taking classes or completing a degree and you’re in the south eastern PA/MD area, here are some programs you can check out.
Tyler School of Art at Temple University – my alma mater and they just moved down to Main Campus and should have a brand new facility. I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure there’s a super computer lab attached. (And yes, my chalice is still on their website student gallery)
Not looking for a BFA/MFA but want an overview course or workshops? Check these programs out:
Maryland Institute, College of Art – While it is a fully accredited art school offering degree programs, the jewelry program isn’t itself a major (as far as I could tell), but there is a studio where I’ve taken workshops and they have a certificate program.
Harrisburg Area Community College -I also have no personal knowledge of their certificate program, but there are PA Guild of Craftsmen who are affiliated with the dept. They also offer a crafts marketing program of study and the Radius Gallery at the State Museum is also affiliated with them.
Montgomery College – This is where I audited classes to gain studio access when I lived in an apartment in Maryland. They offer basic courses and some enameling as well as hosting some of Washington Guild of Goldsmiths’ workshops.