Written by Stephen Luecking Monday, 14 May 2012 10:33
My fellowship application offered two major activities for inserting entrepreneurial training into the visual curricula of the College of CDM.
The first was to develop a PowerPoint presentation for introducing professional standards early in the students’ media training. Awareness of such standards, and then adopting a learning attitude and planning a course of study directed toward achieving such standards of practice, are prerequisites for entrepreneurship.
Moreover, these are prerequisites for a career of any sort in art, including digital media. The presentation consequently outlines such standards and provides guidelines for developing study habits and course planning that supports these. The goal is to post the presentation on-line for use by faculty in introductory course. Faculty may choose to dedicate 40-50 minutes of class time to its content.
This presentation is complete and ready for use. This is a very large file, so I have attached a low-resolution .pdf. I am in the process of editing the presentation for on-line download.
The second activity was to create a course at the 300-level to introduce students to portfolio, business management, communication and legal factors necessary to pursue an independent and creative practice in their field. Currently visual media programs each include one senior thesis/portfolio classes as preparation to entering the field. I have completed and attached the syllabus for this course. I have chosen the text Business of Art: An Artist's Guide to Profitable Self-Employment developed by Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI), located in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, available at: http://www.cciarts.org/bookstore.htm. The CCI received its start-up funding from the Small Business Administration.
I am in the process of submitting this course for inclusion in the CDM curriculum.
In preparation for these documents I researched a number of universities to assess models and strategies for incorporating professional practices into art and design programs.
· Model #1: Senior Thesis/Portfolio
This is the most common model where a single course asks students to revisit works from previous courses and improve them to portfolio quality. Usually the course also offers a capstone experience that also includes producing a major new work showcasing the students training. In this model students learn to create professional quality portfolios and, more importantly, how these function in the field.
· Model #2: Studio Practice Sequence
In this two-semester sequence one semester covers portfolio and the other covers studio management. The latter course typically has nothing to do with the aesthetic quality of student work, but rather deals with the operational design of the studio space to enable continued artistic production. Along with the physical operation of a studio such courses also introduce students to the operation of an independent art business.
An excellent nearby example of this model is found in the BFA program at Bradley University. The focus on studio management is an artifact of fine arts production where the manufacture of physical objects necessitates acquiring tools and equipment and a safe space to use them.
· Model #3: Business Practice Sequence
This parallels Model #2 and is typically found in larger and more established graphic design programs. The portfolio course remains intact, but a course on managing a graphic design business replaces the studio management course. Graphic design offers visual professionals the best opportunity for self-employment, especially with the demand for web design.
· Model #4: Integrated Business/Professional Training
An example of this model may be found at the Annette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design of Drexel University in Philadelphia. Drexel offers the BS in a number of media arts, which requires 113-119 quarter hours, not quite sufficient for a BFA. These credits are divided into between 32 and 34 courses depending on the discipline. Each media course integrates a component addressing the practice and implementation of the course content in the field. For example, graphic design courses in Corporate ID will not only cover logo design, but will discuss standards for interacting with the clients in a corporate culture throughout the design process. At the close of their studies Drexel students opt for either a Senior Thesis capstone or a Professional Practices. The former caps the visual component of their prior coursework, while the latter caps the business practices component.
The good portfolio is the key to a career in the visual arts. It is essential for summarizing the depth, range and quality of one’s artistic abilities to potential clients and employers. Consequently, all schools and universities stress this need and include a capstone course concentrating on the portfolio. However, many schools believe in introducing portfolio skills as soon as the student walks in the door and adopt the strategy of adding these courses to their foundation program.
Examples are the Digital Presentation courses required at UCLA. These serve the dual purpose of introducing students to various 2D programs while teaching professional presentation formats. Another example is to require a year-long sequence of one credit hour courses as adjuncts to the foundation studio sequence. This strategy was used at Purdue when I taught there. The purpose of this sequence was to familiarize students with the standards of operations in art fields and potential careers so as to guide their course planning and introduce standards of presentation for them to follow in subsequent art courses.
A second strategy is to require a portfolio review at the end of sophomore year. Passing the review allows the student to continue into the BFA program from a BA curriculum. This is common at many larger and more competitive programs where the BFA is highly professional.
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