10 Questions for our alumni
Jeff Kraus, BFA, Printmaking, 2011
1. Why did you choose to attend Grand Valley?
I knew I was going to stay in Michigan for undergrad and after doing tours at both Kendall and C.C.S. I didn’t vibe with either. I was initially drawn to the secludedness of the Calder Art Center. It didn’t feel pretentious, and felt like a place I could be at for 4 + years. I instantly fell in love with the Printmaking studio. Also my band was coming to Grand Rapids a lot to perform at the DAAC so I already had a good feeling about the city.
2. How or why did you choose your major or main emphasis area?
I was taking printmaking courses at community college in Traverse City and I knew that I wanted to pursue my interests further. I was scared of painting at the time, haha but knew that I wanted to pursue Art so I chose printmaking. I thought I wanted to become a master printer.
3. What advise do you have for future students thinking about colleges?
Research the faculty and facilities! Find a place that feels right and will allow you to make the work you want. Being an artist after graduating is all about community. Find a city that you want to become a part of the art scene in.
4. What advise do you have for current students thinking about careers?
Go to Grad school if you wanna teach. If you want to be an artist full time, then be one. Make all the necessary sacrifices and don’t apologize. Connections are everything, always carry a business card on you. Made that mistake too many times. I didn’t go to Art school to have a career in the arts, but then I ended up with one anyways. Artists have all kinds of different skill sets, use them to your advantage to pay your rent and continue to make art. Don’t have a full-time and job and do art on the side, have a full time job and be a full time artist!
5. What did you do after graduating?
I kept a few odd jobs, (screen printing, art handling) I played in a band and traveled the world, I also made a ton of art. I decided not to go into debt and goto Grad school. I just kept making work and connected with other artists all over the world. I had a studio at the 1111 Godfrey building for 8 years. Having a studio outside the university while I was still in undergrad and keeping it after Graduation was the best decision ever.
6. What are you doing now?
I live and work in NY. I am a full-time preparator at Pace Gallery and I uphold a full time studio practice. I have exhibited my paintings in several groups shows throughout Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Chicago and will have my first NY Solo show in 2019.
7. How have you used the skills you developed in your field of study in your life and/or career after GVSU?
This is a hard question to answer. My time at GVSU will always be a part of me and I am fond of all the memories I made while attending.
8. What is the best advise you got from an instructor at Grand Valley?
Tim Fisher once told me that a painting was only good if it could be viewed from all angles. That stuck with me for a long time. Since then I always spin my work to make sure it holds up on each side.
9. What is your favorite memory of being a student at Grand Valley?
I would basically sleep in Calder, haha. The print shop would clear out and I would play music and make work till about 2-3 am. Then sleep on the couch and wake up to my classmates coming in around 9. I lived in East town but I would stay out in Allendale for days sometimes a full week before going home. I also really enjoyed walking around the woods behind Calder. Nobody was ever back there and it was so beautiful.
10. Anything else you would like to share with our Visual and Media Arts Community?
Take risks with your work , and network as much as you can.