Adam Golfer '07 and Andrew Blaize Bovasso '09 share how they were able to land great careers after graduating from MICA
Posted 07.24.12 by mica communications
Life changed dramatically after these two recent photography alumni graduated from MICA. Although they both live in New York City, each has gone down a very different path to get where they are today.
Adam Golfer '07
Adam Golfer '07 has built a career on many things: hard work, perseverance, talent-and even a few leaps of faith.
It began just before he graduated from MICA. After showing his portfolio and part of his senior thesis project to a contact in the magazine world, Golfer landed his first freelance portrait assignment in New York.
From there, he met with more editors, all of whom told him the same thing. "I was 22 and still a student. They were all telling me I had potential, but to get work, it was good to be in New York."
Golfer took a leap of faith and moved, working at a lighting rental company and pursuing small freelance assignments in a period he now calls "slow momentum." He was hired for portraiture at first and then landed his first big job with Condé Nast's W magazine. "They let me do my thing. What I mean by that is I don't use big lights or production. I hang out with someone for an hour and then try to take interesting pictures," Golfer explained. "I just go in with my camera and make it work out."
Golfer began getting calls from other magazines interested in his signature style of natural portraiture. Over the past two years, he has had the opportunity to travel the world and take the portraits of celebrities he considers heroes, including John Waters, the quirky Baltimore-based filmmaker and author. "That was just incredible... to talk with him about life and take pictures," he recalled.
While growing his freelance career, Golfer took another leap of faith, traveling to Germany to work on a self-funded project surrounding his grandparents, who are Holocaust survivors. "I came back to the states with this massive personal project that I was just doing for myself, and it opened a ton of doors for me professionally," Golfer said. "It generated solo shows in DC and New York. I made that leap, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made."
From there, Golfer decided to pursue another project funded successfully through Kickstarter. "The project was going to be about the ironic, weird, and violent things going on over in Israel and Palestine, but it evolved into the irony and tragedy in the daily life in the West Bank-the quiet side of life that has different facets that are both very normal and very dramatic."
When Golfer came back to the states, he showed the work and landed more assignments. Then once again, he seized another opportunity.
"I was pitching a story about the West Bank to magazines with a friend-a writer-and there was interest but nothing really came of it. So I blindly bought a plane ticket and we went back. The second day we were there, we got an assignment with GQ magazine in Germany to cover the Palestinian Spring and nonviolent protests. The story paid for my plane ticket-and the original work I'd done previously over there," he said. "I don't know how any of it has happened. I'm getting to hang out with people I consider heroes. I find ways to do personal work that's very meaningful to me. I just follow my interests and take leaps. So far, it's worked out."
Andrew Blaize Bovasso '09
Andrew Blaize Bovasso '09 was partway through an internship at Lex Leonard Gallery in downtown Jersey City, New Jersey, when it was shut down. But instead of finding himself without a job, Bovasso's experience ended up growing richer.
Nyugen E. Smith, the artist who directed the small, grassroots gallery before its closure, turned the space into a studio and asked Bovasso to stay on as his assistant. "In a single internship I experienced two very different aspects of the art world," Bovasso explained, "making art versus showing and selling art."
He also began to make the kind of professional connections that would enable him to take his first steps as an exhibiting artist. "As a direct result of the people I met during this internship, I had the opportunity to be included in the Jersey City Artists' Studio Tour. And as a result of my work being seen in the studio tour, a solo show was offered to me."
The lessons he learned stayed with him. After graduation, Bovasso focused on New York, and again turned to internships as a means of establishing his career. "In New York, you can't get anywhere without great work, but connections are vital," he explained.
After graduation, Bovasso pursued three internships. He worked with photographer Todd Eberle in his studio, acted as a teaching assistant at the International Center for Photography, and worked at Barry Friedman Ltd., a gallery in Chelsea-which turned into a paid position.
"Through the internships I was able to discern things about what I wanted out of life, my career, and art. Working with Barry Friedman Ltd. gave me the balance I was looking for,"Bovasso said.
The balance Bovasso found came with additional professional connections. Through his contact with Barry Friedman Ltd.'s sister gallery, Friedman Benda, he got the opportunity to first show his work in the Chelsea neighborhood.
"Friedman Benda was looking for art and artists for its summer show, Six Rooms. Summer shows are typically more relaxed than shows in season in Chelsea-many directors and curators will allow their staff to participate, and I was asked by one of the staff to be included.
When the show opened, my work was seen by designer Aurélien Gallet, and the piece was taken immediately on consignment to his booth at the Hampton Designer Showhouse 2011 in South Hampton, New Hampshire."
He continued, "From being in the neighborhood, people were able to see my work. From there, I was contacted by Jenkins Johnson Gallery when they were curating their 2011 fall show, Plugged In. Thus the snowball at the top of the hill gets bigger and bigger with every revolution."
Bovasso recently published his first book of photographs, Conversations with Dan McNulty in Jersey City, and he continues to work at Barry Friedman Ltd. as well as exhibit. He also continues to make and maintain professional connections. In May, Bovasso's work was included in The Aljira Fine Art Auction-a benefit he was invited to participate in by the artist he first interned for as a student at MICA.
Photo Captions: Adam Golfer '07; Adam Golfer, Everything That Rises Must Converge; Andrew Bovasso '09; Photograph by Andrew Bovasso '09.