It is unlikely that you will find a degree in Graffiti Arts. This might be part of the Fine Arts degree portfolios in the near future, but today, it is still mainly viewed as a street art. So how do you learn without tagging illegally? Some recreation centers offer spaces for graffiti artists to learn. There are city programs available in some locations, while you can also join private classes specifically focused on graffiti. A great way is to find a mentor who can teach you the ins-and-outs of the industry.
Of course, you do still have the option of pursuing a college degree. As mentioned earlier, it won’t title you in Graffiti Arts, but you can obtain a BFA, which will still open your horizons to art styles and forms. Even if you choose to take classic art courses, it doesn’t mean you cannot practice graffiti art as your career. They will be beneficial to developing your style and technique and training your eye within the arts. There are also schools that are more flexible than others when it comes to allowing students to explore different styles in-studio, so you should looks for programs that will allow you the freedom to choose your focus and style.
On the other hand, it is not an easy industry to make a living from, so a college degree in a different discipline might be a good option to get a day job and focus your efforts on developing your graffiti career without worrying about income.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A DEGREE TO BECOME A GRAFFITI ARTIST?
We have chosen schools based in cities with a strong presence of graffiti art and a market for artists in the field, so there is no surprise that these colleges are in New York City, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
- University of California—Los Angeles
The UCLA Department of Art offers students BFA and MFA level studies. Students at the bachelor level may choose courses in painting and drawing, photography, sculpture, ceramics, art theory, as well as new genres, which could be a great option for aspiring graffiti artists. Also, only 17 students are allowed to enroll per studio section. In-state students pay $13,641 per academic year, while out-of-state tuition is $37,665.
- Columbia University
Located in New York City, the Columbia University School of the Arts allows students to take both undergraduate and graduate level studies in visual arts. For undergrads, the program is designed so the student can specialize in an area of interest, or a combination, with a strong focus on personal vision, while the MFA is inter-disciplinary. MFA tuition is $53,484 per year.
- City University of New York
Also in New York City, CUNY Hunter College has a wide range of programs in the arts, including art history, studio art, combined media, as well as BFA and MFA level studies. Students in bachelor level studies may do an exchange in France or the Netherlands, while those pursuing master’s level studies have the option of exchanging in Germany, France, the Netherlands or Scotland. Tuition per credit for state residents is $245 and $510 for out-of-state.
- Temple University
The Tyler School of Art at the Temple University in Philadelphia has a variety of art-related degrees including visual arts, general art, and art history among others. Students may pursue majors or minors in any of the degrees offered. Full-time undergraduate tuition for Pennsylvania residents is estimated at $19,276, while non-residents pay $30,816.
- School of Visual Arts
Another New York City based school, the School of Visual Arts, has BFA and MFA level studies, as well as a number of diplomas and certifications for those looking to study the arts. Currently, full-time tuition stands at $17,500 per semester.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
This is a tricky one. Like all art professions, those who commission your work will want to see a portfolio. Since Graffiti is still not completely commercialized, it might sometimes prove difficult to build one legally. Your best bet is to volunteer on projects; get work through your mentors; or build a portfolio on your own time.
You might also want to participate in community projects, as well as get to know other graffiti artists who might have more experience, and therefore, more connections. Networking will be essential to landing paid gigs, so look for local groups and organizations, or just individuals on Twitter and Instagram. Also, build your own online presence, which will allow you to publish your work for free and hopefully create a following interested in your work.