Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Applying to Gwen Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University

Applying to the Gwen Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University (WMU) isn't too difficult, but it can be time consuming if you've procrastinated or put off prepping for this additional step because its easy to get distracted just applying for the university itself. Here's what I remember of the experience for myself, now that I am almost 4 years into the BFA program and had to go through the BA application process before I could apply for my BFA program...

After you have applied to the university, you will need to apply to get into the fine art's college -- specifically the Gwen Frostic School of Art. You can apply as soon as you apply to WMU; you do not have to wait to be accepted. In order to apply, you need: a statement of intent; a portfolio of recent, original artwork; and a recommendation from someone familiar with your artistic talents. The B.A. Program Admission website has more details about the application process here.

You will upload all these things to the college's Slideroom at frosticart.slideroom.comThere is a $10 USD application fee, so you will also need a debit card or a credit card to pay the application fee.

You should work on getting a recommendation first. This is the area you have the least amount of control over, but do have control over who you ask and when you ask. It will stress you out and your recommender out if you ask for this letter the day before applications are due. Don't do that when its entirely avoidable, especially since they may be writing recommendations for others. I asked my high school art teacher Mr. Middleton from Black River Public School to write this letter for me, and I made sure to do it early since a lot of people will be asking the same teachers for these letters.

Your portfolio should consist of recent artwork that you have made yourself, though I would say if you have an older series that is still being updated or a piece that you feel especially strong about to go ahead and include it. Colleges prefer to see artwork that reflects your personal interests and ideas, but allow pieces you may have made for assignments in art classes. Your portfolio should include one or more examples of direct observation (proportion) pieces, one or more examples of non-photography 2-D pieces (print media, painting, drawing, design, collage, or other media), and four to six pieces of your strongest artwork that can include any visual art media. If you're going to apply for the graphic design program, you don't necessarily need to show that work now but prepare it for next year when you have to apply again to get into the graphic design BFA program.

The artist statement is what I find people typically have problems with and have the most questions about. The broad nature of it intimidates people but it has the ability to empower you. Let it reflect not only your artistic aspirations but how you fit into them and in turn how you fit into the program at WMU. The B.A. programs admission website offers these additional prompts to help with brainstorming (source):
Why you have chosen the Frostic School of Art at WMU for your undergraduate education?
What is your work about? Are there particular themes you are exploring?
What are your interests as an artist? Are there materials and processes that specifically engage you?
What artists and/or art movements are you interested in? 
What have you read lately, and/or what websites have you visited lately, and how have these influenced your thinking about art?
What are your creative goals?
What (or who) has influenced you the most and how?
Of the work you have submitted, which are you most proud of and why?
I honestly do not remember what I wrote about to get into the BA program. I only remember what I wrote about when, after my first year in the BA program, I applied to get into the graphic design BFA program; I wrote about how I wanted to apply design and these goals for me, and then talked a little about how I was already working towards these goals by volunteering to create design for registered student organizations around campus -- I remember also mentioning volunteering for a drag show, which when I had someone proof read the letter they thought I meant drag racing and not cross dressing. That was pretty amusing and I still got into the program.

Anyways. You will be notified if you got into the program around four weeks after the application deadline. You can find the application deadline both on the Slideroom webpage and on the Frostic website, which additionally lists the application deadlines for scholarship consideration as well.

That's about it -- you'll then be able to register for classes you couldn't before. If you're going to apply for a BFA after your first year, make sure to get all the general art credits you need done this year!

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