Make Your Own Masters is an alternative art and design education experiment., founded in 2017 by me, Stacie Woolsey. I have spent the past 2 years building and running this experiment on myself and now it’s time to pass on what I have learnt and enable individuals, from any background, access to an education they are currently excluded from.
Art education in the UK is still a luxury. With a price tag of around £40,000 to attend and live in London (as quoted by the RCA). This level of education is vital for many careers in the arts, with most industry leaders holding claim to it, yet only 10% of the population can afford an MA education. These financial and albeit bais restrictions actively deny some of our brightest potential, and in the year of 2019 why are we still having conversations about institutional education being a privilege.
When I, like thousands of others in the UK found myself out priced of education. I started Make Your Own Masters as I became more aware of the impact a postgraduate education would have on my career. As a recent BA graduate I knew that competition was stiff, so I would need to learn more in order to stand out. But the reality of paying for a conventional MA course was impossible for me - so I decided to design myself an alternative solution.
I began by approaching industry leaders whose work I loved and proposed the idea of MYOM. I asked them to set me briefs from which I could learn from and specialise in - and to what is still probably my greatest surprise - every one of them replied with a resounding yes. It was clear they too felt art education was due a shake up.
I knew that I could not depend solely on these briefers to give me month's worth of tutoring around their busy schedules, so I decided to develop a network of mentors that ran alongside. These mentors were industry professionals that I could lean on for general support and advice.
Finally, I knew that the biggest missing piece in my unique MA would be my peers. So I worked to build a network of young professionals, of a similar age to myself, from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds, to help me structure the course and be my first port of call throughout the year.
In conclusion, I wanted to learn and better understand the industry I was trying to break into. I wanted to specialise in a particular field with a portfolio that I’d be excited to share. But most importantly, I wanted to create opportunities for myself that I wouldn’t have had access to in a conventional way.
Prove, ‘this is the way it’s always been’ doesn’t mean ‘this is the only way’.
Provide those, excluded from conventional education with the tools and opportunity that empowers them to make their own.
Question the idea of what education is? where it comes from? and who it’s for?
Challenge an industry built on such a fractured system to support and take responsibility for the changes it wants to see.
MYOM aims to rectify that, and in turn, make the industry a more exciting and diverse place. MYOM is looking to recruit a community of independent learners that are hosted as ‘learners in residence’ by industry-leading studios and institutions across the creative industry. These learners will network (hustle) in order to source their briefs, curriculum and learning live from industry, in environments that will encourage professional growth - all whilst being supported by the MYOM community.
This is by no means a validated form of education, it is a learning experiment that provides a structure and community that allows disadvantaged creatives to access a level of education that they are currently excluded from. Stakeholders such as Selfridges ltd, the Design Museum, Somerset House and more are all currently onboard with trialing MYOM as a way to support young creatives.
Starting in January 2020 I am looking to take on a cohort of 10 learners over 18 months, from a diverse range of creative backgrounds. Those who have faced barriers within the conventional education system. I will provide these learners with the blue prints (my learnings on) designing your own bespoke MA, through a series of workshops, on to one meetings and group events. I will then work to position these 10 creatives as ‘learners in residence’. Leaning on the creative industry to provide not only space but a community for these 10 innovators to work/learn within. From brands such as Selfridges, Somerset House, Makerversity, Design Museum to It’s nice that and more.
Find out more about what this 18month experiment looks like for the learners here.
Provide you with the structure and support to build your own independent MA curriculum.
Provide you with the skills and top tips to source briefs from industry professionals or live problems.
Help you build a professional network of mentors and peers.
Create a community of like minded creatives, making a change.
Help you develop and define your unique curriculum and practice in tern defining your discipline/tite.
What this is not, is an easy alternative. I will not provide you with a curriculum, briefs, mentors, peers or any form of formal education. That is on you, your education is your responsibility, but I will do to the best of my ability is provide you with all the knowledge and support I have to ensure you learn more than you maybe would the traditional way, and provide you with a the encourage the skills for you as an individual to grow your network and experience in turn developing your practice.
Again this is by no means a validated form of education, it is a learning experiment that provides a structure and community. It allows disadvantaged creatives to access a level of education that they are currently excluded from. If you can afford the shop bought model, do it that way, it’s a hell of a lot easier. If you can’t then maybe your the kind of person that wants to prove there’s another way, and you’ll take the hard route (albeit incredibly rewarding) to do so.
Short answer, you don’t. Art education has always followed the same structure as the rest of academia, but art is so unlike every other subject - it’s subjective. There is no right or wrong answer, whether it works or not changes entirely depending on the audience. So how do you tangibly grade this? In industry, work is not deemed successful by a governing body or a certificate of approval. The work proves itself through audience reaction, industry recognition, awards and client satisfaction. Why can’t we take a similar approach to learning?
Each of my projects was supported by a reference from my briefers, who will comment on how well they believe I answered their brief - the rest of the verdict comes entirely from the audience (you). My work and learning is as a representation of what I do and know, without name or institutional privilege ever being a part of the conversation.