What are Fine Arts
Bachelor in fine arts or BFA is one of the most earned degrees in the world. The oxford dictionary defines fine art as “creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.”
Fine art is mainly concerned with drawing and design-based works such as painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Still, other non-design-based activities such as photography and architecture are also included in it.
Contemporary artists have extended the boundaries of the traditional fine arts. Sculpture making, traditionally done with clay or plastic, now employs a range of new materials and forms (assemblage, land art, etc.). Printmaking has taken advantage of new commercial printing processes, like silkscreen printing and giclee prints.
Career and Earning Potential
Most artists in this field showcase/market their work, as finding a regular job isn’t as straight forward as in other professions. Short-term possibilities are available on a competitive basis and are a means of becoming established.
Roles include in-house artists, developing art-related activities in schools, hospitals, prisons, or bidding for fixed-term funding to carry out a particular project or commission. The average annual salary for a fine art graduate in the US is $57,208 and £26,595 in the UK.
Fine Arts – Academic Pathway
From the early 16th century, specialized institutions were set up across Europe to train students to learn fine arts. The two earliest were the Academy of the Art of Design in Florence (Accademia dell’Arte del Disegno) and Rome’s Fine Art Academy (Accademia di San Luca). These educational institutions taught a highly traditional type of “academic art,” founded on Renaissance art principles.
In the modern-day, there are multiple options available, from certifications to specialized post-graduate degrees.
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is an undergraduate degree for students interested in different aspects of Fine Arts. This degree prompts the students to explore different fine art genres, including drawing, sculpture, painting, and printmaking, with their complex history and context.
The BFA is usually a 3 – 4 year program. However, the time may extend depending upon the amount of (studio) course work required. The first two years of BFA typically focus on the fundamentals. In the later semesters, students select a concentration to complete the rest of their degree. Also, during this time, students are encouraged to work for their specialized subjects by completing internships and fellowships.
BFA is a broad degree and often requires an area of specialties such as acting, musical theatre, game design, ceramics, computer animation, creative writing, dance, dramatic writing, drawing, fiber, film production, visual effects, graphic design, illustrations, interior design, metal-working, photography, state management, and television production. However, some schools instead give a comprehensive and extensive education in multi-art disciplines.
Bachelor of Fine Arts is often used synonymously with the BA, i.e., Bachelors of Arts. However, in the United States, BFA differs from BA. In the United States, the BFA degree comprises about two-third of the study in arts and one-third in general liberal art studies, unlike BA. While in the United Kingdom, B. A and BFA are equivalent. In some other countries like India, BFA is known as Bachelors of Visual Arts, i.e., BVA, or Bachelors of Creative Arts, i.e., BCA.
According to the National Association of School of Art and Design (NASAD) reports, there are currently 315 colleges in the United States that offer bachelor-level degrees in fine arts.
The fine arts schools in the USA that tend to be ranked at the top of lists year after year are the Rhode Island School of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Other known institutes are the University of New South Wales, Australia, University of Auckland, New Zealand, Newcastle University, UK, and the University of Southampton, UK.
Each institute offers a wide range of options. For example, The Rhode Island School of Design offers 16 fine arts majors along with state-of-the-art facilities and tools. The Newcastle University, UK lets you choose from more than 20 specialist workshops, such as ceramics, photography, 16mm film, oil painting, performance, and experimental printmaking.
The standard eligibility to apply for a BFA degree is to have a high school diploma or equivalent in your home country. There may be other eligibility requirements depending upon the school you are applying to.
Work Load / Credit Hour
Students can expect a mixture of lectures, projects, and group work assignments during their program. The students doing BFA usually have projects in most of their subjects. These projects have a more significant weightage in the semester grades in addition to the exams.
Moreover, grading is usually done based on subjectivity, i.e., based on individual professors’ preferences. Professors often look for efforts and improvements, while some look at the mastery of specific techniques.
The credit hour categorization is different for different schools; however, the (minimum) total credit hours required are approximately 129-131 hours.
This total is based on the different categorizations of courses that the student must take. A student must complete 72 credit hours of studio course, 2 hours of art orientation course, 6 credit hours of Art history courses. 41-43 credit hours of the GCE required courses and 9 credit hours of electives to complete the Bachelor of Fine Arts at West Virginia University School of Art & Design. Again, this categorization may vary depending upon the country, and school student has opted to join.
The fee structure varies from school to school. In the UK, the annual fees for a BFA degree are £9,250 (for UK residents) and £20,400 (for international students). In the USA, the annual tuition fee for a similar program is around $54,000. There are numerous scholarships available for BFA degrees in the US and UK, allotted based on merit and financial need depending on the type of scholarship the student is applying for.
The BFA degree provides students with a holistic understanding of the core of Fine arts, which they can use in whatever specialization they wish to pursue later. This degree makes the students job-ready for different art studios, publishing houses, etc.
The career scope for BFA students is quite broad. Students can opt for a fine artist’s profession and work as freelancers or apply for grants to fund their work. Moreover, students can work as Art curators or art exhibition officers. Some graduates also receive the requisite teaching certification, after which they can easily get employed as fine art instructors.
Certificate programs can be undertaken either before or after the bachelor’s degree to expand knowledge and strengthen one’s professional portfolio. Certifications are more comfortable to acquire, as most are online and usually require 30 credit hours. The duration is also as little as 9 months or a maximum of 2 years. They add a bonus to your portfolio for design careers and graduate school.
Masters and Postgraduate
BFA graduates can also proceed for a Masters in Fine Arts (MFA), which teaches the students fine arts in more depth. Most MFA degrees require 2-3 years of post-graduate work in specialized fields like visual arts, creative writing, filmmaking, etc. Coursework in an MFA program will focus entirely on your culminating of significant work or performance.
Moreover, at many institutes, a BFA degree is not essential to apply for MFA. A person with a bachelor’s degree in any area and apply for MFA. The most probable admission requirement is the portfolio or performance audition.
Some fine arts colleges have implemented Ph. D programs in the fields of creative writing, visual arts, and theater. The Doctorate in Fine Art at the University of Hertfordshire, the UK, is a structured doctorate that can be undertaken part-time using a combination of online and on-campus research activities and supervision. This arrangement allows candidates to study in their home countries and attend the University only once per year. Candidates can also choose to participate in blocks of full-time study at the University.