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The True Cost Of An Art Education | An Artist's Perspective

Curt Clonts

I was reading an article recently about an up and coming artist in America named Vaughn Spann. He graduated with an MFA from Yale two years ago and his career is in maximum overdrive. His latest show sold out within a week of opening. His paintings sell from $20 to $90,000 each, depending on size.

I researched the cost of a four-year grad degree from Yale and it’s $285,000. What astounded me is even at that astronomical price, Spann states that Yale didn’t offer instruction on how to navigate the actual business of selling art! Spann indicates that Yale students have an advantage though. He says that collectors and dealers constantly circle the school to find new talent.

In comparison, the cost of a four-year degree in art at Wichita State is $96,168. It’s about the same at Newman, and more at Friends University. No collectors or dealers are circling those schools for new talent. And these schools are not teaching their students the actual business of selling art either. How in the world can a college or university offer a degree in any discipline when they have not given instructions on how to make an actual living while employed within the discipline? I’m baffled by that.

If I’m a student shelling out $96,000 for my mid-America art education, I want a return on my investment, or I at least want a fighting chance.

On a local level I see young artists with MFAs sadly fumbling with mounting even small shows, and it saddens me. And it’s not their fault. They were let down by the iniversities that took their money and sent them out financially broke and unprepared into a world that quickly becomes all too real.