Questions about RISD

Happy New Year Everyone. I’ve been on a hiatus from writing since graduation in June. I clearly needed a break. But, it’s 2013 and one of my resolutions is to get back on the blog wagon. I’ve had a few potential RISD GD MFA candidates contact me with some really good questions about the program. I thought I’d share them in case any other candidates have similar questions about the program. Hope it’s helpful. Good luck.

What is your BFA background and why did you choose RISD over any other program?
I went to UMASS Dartmouth and studied Digital Media/Photography with a concentration in Graphic Design. I was very happy with that experience and it prepared me to get a really good job at kor group in Boston which I worked at for over 10 years.

But, I was looking to push myself theoretically and conceptually. I was looking at some other programs like Yale and Cranbrook, but I felt RISD was best for me because it offered the theory and had not forgotten about the form as I feel Yale and Cranbrook have.

How would you describe your overall experience at RISD?
Tough but rewarding.

Are there any particular classes and/or teachers that stuck out to you?
My 1st Grad studio with Nancy Skolos and Bethany Johns made a huge impact on me. I found those first projects really helped me shape my thesis. I also loved my 1st grad elective “the urgent vignette” with visiting professor Cavan Huang, but I’m not sure if he will be teaching again? Finally, I highly recommend taking classes outside the department. I took 3 photography classes, including Issues and Images with Lisa Young which was extremely impactful.

What are the different areas of focus within the program and which did you choose?
The focus is really open and up to you. I really wanted to work on more screen based and time/motion based projects. So I did incorporate that into my work.

How hard would you say it is to get into the program?
I know they get hundreds of applications and only accept between 6-8 students per track. So I’d say it’s pretty hard to get into.

Is there anything you would do differently in the program now?
I would have trusted my intuition from the beginning, but I don’t think I would have found my final outcome without my struggles.

What are you doing now?
Working at Fathom Information Design in Boston on web based projects and data visualization.

Do you attribute any of your success as a designer to RISD?
Certainly, I wanted to go to RISD ever since I was a little kid. I looked to RISD as the pinnacle of creative thinking and making. So RISD helped me succeed even before I started the program, and having gone through the program and now on the other side it continues to help drive my success.

Did RISD help you find employment after graduating?
Not directly, but a classmate a year ahead of me was interning at Fathom and an alum of the program was working at Fathom, so it gave me a foot in the door.

Any tips you can give me regarding the statement of purpose and portfolio?
Be honest. It sounds cliché but describe yourself as you are now and why going to RISD is something you must do. Be creative. As I mentioned, there are hundreds of applicants so try to write something that makes you stand out. This holds true with the portfolio as well. Don’t show work you are not totally proud of. If you’ve done client work that’s weak don’t include it just because it’s out in the “real world” or something like that. Show process and thinking not just the final outcome.

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