Art Mfa Interview Questions

Tips from art and design lecturers on preparing a portfolio and what to expect at an interview

Applying to courses in art or design may seem like a scary process, but if you have a portfolio of work that you are confident about, and have prepared what you are going to say, it wont be too daunting.


‘Be experimental – shock, be innovative, BREAK THE RULES! Redo any work that you feel is substandard. Always keep a log of your thoughts. Keep a diary (A4/A5) that records s, sketches, thoughts and samples, cuttings of anything of interest or inspiration. Presentation is EVERYTHING’. Roger Griffiths, Senior Lecturer, Product Design Cardiff School of Art and Design

What questions can I expect at interview?

  • Why do you want to do this course?
  • Did you attend the open day?
  • Why do you want to study here?
  • Do you have a favourite artist?
  • What are your favourite books/magazines/films?
  • What contemporary practitioner or artist inspires you?
  • What are your most successful pieces of work?
  • What exhibitions have you visited recently?
  • Have you any ambitions of what you want to do in the future?
  • What to expect: Is an art or design course the right choice for you?

    art mfa interview questions

    Is it important to always relate your work to artists and artistic contexts?

    ‘It’s nice to hear “this designer inspires me”, but it’s better to hear about what people have been doing, where they have been travelling, what they have seen, and how this has all influenced and informed their work. It’s about having this broader influence’. Bryan Clark, Level 2 Head Tutor in Graphic Design University College Falmouth

    ‘We find that many students are unable to name a textile company or designer that inspires them which is disappointing. Make sure you do contextual research and think about less obvious artists’. Hannah Maughan, Senior Lecturer, Textile Design University College Falmouth


    ‘The most common mistake is starting with the statement “Ever since I was little I have been interested in…”. We’re not after a story, it’s better to be concise and to the point. We also take into consideration transferable skills that may not be art related – things that show motivation and flexibility. This could be a team sport, travel, voluntary work or something quirky, so that we can get an idea of the spirit and personality of the student’. Hannah Maughan, Senior Lecturer, Textile Design University College Falmouth


    ‘Little or no observational drawing in portfolios; leaving things out because they are ‘not finished’; not being clear on the application and not being fully aware of the programme they have applied for. Also not bringing sketch books, under-presenting significant items and not having thought about the good/problematic points or issues in their practice’. Don Jackson, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Textiles Practice Cardiff School of Art and Design

    art mfa interview questions

    A: During the semesters that I had heavier course loads it was hard to keep up with both. I basically didn’t go out at all; my nights were spent completing school assignments and working on art. This presented a conflict of interests, as networking and going to see shows and meeting other artists is an important part of fine arts grad school as well.

    A: I feel positive about my future, but I know that it rests on my own decisions. I find that this is a field in which there is a lot of freedom, which can both help and hinder an individual professionally. However, I do believe that the degree is a step towards a career in the academic fine arts, which was the fundamental reason why I chose to come here. I would also like to have a career in the arts that allows me to continue my own work.

    Ysamin Keshtka is a graduate painting major at the Pratt Institute in New York. In addition to all of the work she does as a student, she has had a few jobs throughout the past two years. She was a receptionist in a gallery in Chelsea, worked at the Pratt libraries multimedia services department as a graduate assistant and had a few freelance jobs. Keshtka found some time to give us a glimpse into the busy life of a fine arts graduate student.

    MFA INTERVIEWS: Tips You Need!

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