If you subscribe to my newsletter (or are amongst my inner circle), you have likely learned that I am undertaking a massive project inspired by a book called Ultralearning by Scott H. Young. I lovingly call this my project "my BoP" which is essentially an unofficial Bachelor of Photography degree. My goal with this project is to gain a deeper understanding of photography from an Art Degree perspective. Unfortunately, I am not currently in a place where I can attend an actual University to pursue this. However, two of my superpowers are an insatiable curiosity and an ability to learn pretty much anything I want to.
In September of 2023, I started researching, compiling, and designing the first half of my BoP. I collected syllabi, rubrics, and degree plans from various universities to determine what this should look like. I also discovered something valuable. Since I am doing this on my own I can incorporate ANY subject I want! So as I progress through this, I intend to study other art forms, mythology, critical thinking, and languages.
Are You Mad? Why Are You Doing This?
Well, we are all mad here but I understand that you might wonder, "But Tara, there are so many courses and workshops available, why do you need to create a degree program for yourself?" Since I began studying photography with intention in 2019, certain questions plagued me:
- Why? Why? Why? Everyone can tell me HOW to do something, but very few of them could tell me why I should do it.
- What is the history of photography? Who are my predecessors? What can they still teach me?
- Where do I find good feedback? How do I know what I need to improve?
And because I'm such an avid learner, there are things that I have wanted to learn so that I can take my art further. I want to draw dragons, sculpt and apply make-up, take my costume designs further, and have a thorough understanding of various mythologies, themes, and symbols. More importantly, I want to create more meaningful work. I want to push out of my comfort zone and create work that evokes strong reactions, causes people to think more deeply, and challenges what is accepted. I want to create positive change. I want to have an impact.
OK, So How Does This Work?
How will this BoP help me answer those questions? First and foremost it outlines a clear path for me to follow. Instead of chasing white rabbits with timepieces looking for answers and being sidetracked by mad tea parties. I will forge a path to follow. Let's call it a yellow brick road of my own design (I know we're changing stories here). I will learn from artists, sculptors, photographers, and digital artists that I admire by studying not only their work but also their lives. No more wandering around aimlessly searching for answers, my path will have clear objectives and activities to keep me focused on being curious which is my number one value.
Our ancestors have lessons to teach us, we just need to listen. I believe there are things to learn from the photographers and artists of days past. And while we may have heard of Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Pablo Picasso, Artemisia Gentileshchi, and many others, have we stopped to understand why they created what they did? Have we considered how their lived experiences contributed to the works we admire today? We live in a very superficial world of immediate gratification. If nothing else, I want to spend TIME with things instead of rushing off to the next and the next. I want to slow down.
Since I will be creating specific "portfolios" of work, I intend to submit them to various bodies and contests, to pay for mentor time, and call upon friends in my creative community to acquire feedback that helps me grow. I also aim to fully understand the art of giving feedback and critique so that I can offer those services to my fellow artists. How can we grow if we don't know what we don't know? My biggest struggle as an artist and photographer has been acquiring useful and meaningful feedback. I want to offer that to you because Growth is another of my top values.
These are the things I feel are lacking in much of the photography education available to people. So if I can't find what I'm looking for then I must create it, right? So I'm working on creating my own Round Table.
Here is a Snapshot of the first half of my BoP Plan. I'm testing these courses out and will tweak them as I go. Learning what works best for when I develop the second half.
As I progress through my BoP, I aim to share my thoughts and experiences about it here in The Artist's Grimoire. Sometimes it will be in the form of Journal Entries, and other times I will share the essays, projects, and portfolios I create. I'm excited to get started. I hope you are just as thrilled to join me on this journey. Please share any thoughts, suggestions and questions you might have. I'd love to chat with you about this!