Art School Politics: She Was Mortified
I’ve recently been working on several web design jobs, including the new website and social media for the band ‘TickleJuice.’ While working on the band's website, I read the personal bios of each musician. The bios included information such as names of other, great musicians with whom each member had worked. In fact, some had listed their teachers - internationally-known, accomplished musicians.
I understood this was common practice; when you’re being taught or mentored under a great name, you can easily list this great name on your bio or ‘Artist CV.’ I realized that I couldn’t do this with my own bio or CV, however, as none of my full-time teachers from film school are names with which I’d like to associate.
One week after these thoughts had entered my mind, I was going through some of my college journal entries. Coincidentally, I came across an entry titled ‘Art School Is Like Politics,’ and I was reminded of something I’d nearly forgotten.
It was my senior year, and I was taking an independent study with a video teacher. I was trying to get my own website online, complete with an artist CV, resume, business cards, and a portfolio of my work.
To that end, I had shared with her my new business cards - the first business cards I'd ever made for myself. She took one, looked at it, and said, "But you know you shouldn't just walk around and hand these out to everyone...right?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
She had previously told me that the way I speak is very sarcastic and impersonal, and now explained to me that I would look like an impersonal asshole if I walked around at an art event or the like, and handed my card out to people, then walked away. I wasn't sure why she had it in mind that I would do that, and it was rather insulting. I said, "You don't know me. I wouldn't do that - I wanted to show you my new cards because you're my teacher and I thought you'd like to see what I'm doing." She was taken aback and made a surprised face, then proceeded to tell me that yes, she liked the new cards.
However, I had no idea how to take the next step and create an artist CV – and why would I? MassArt doesn’t offer school-wide business classes, and the film major created one business major-specific business class the year I left.
I put together a bunch of information and emailed this rough artist CV to my independent study teacher. Her name was on it, as we'd worked together on several video projects throughout my time at school. She didn’t respond, waiting to deliver her statement aloud when I saw her the next week.
"I was…MORTIFIED when I READ that my NAME was ON this!" she said.
"I told you I don’t know what to do with a CV, that’s why I emailed you my rough draft, and I'm asking..." I pointed out.
"Well...you should definitely ask," she replied.
And, rather than show me how to create a CV, she told me that I should ‘definitely ask’ – someone else.
'How do we learn if no one teaches us?’ I thought, but then I reminded myself that my teacher was more interested in using the teaching job to support her lifestyle in New York, as opposed to actually teaching. She commuted to the school twice a week to teach, leaving promptly at the end of class, and was entirely unreachable and unresponsive unless you were face-to-face with her those few, precious hours she was in the state.
Though it may seem like a lot of extra work, always take the time to research the faculty at the schools to which you're applying. Had I known who I would be working with, I may have taken-on student loans and received an education at a school with more prolific and attentive teachers. You're paying for your college education - it's in your best interest to appropriately judge the school's faculty and determine if you will get enough out of your next 4 years.
And when I get my Master's degree - who knows, I may just study under several professors who are secure enough in their own work that they'd be flattered I'd want to note them in my bio.
I've since learned how to create a great artist CV, which you can see on my website. I learned how to format the CV, and what to include by looking at CVs of various artists and learning from example. I also wrote my own ‘Artist Bio‘ which briefly covers my background, style, selected awards, and current work. And, conveniently, this bio also doubles as a press release, an easy copy-and-paste job for future interviews and articles about me and my work!