Brad Blair is an artist, educator and gallery coordinator living in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2014, he earned an M.F.A. degree in Studio Art from Florida State University. Prior to that, he graduated from Towson University in 2009 with a B.S. degree, majoring in Art & Design. Aside from making and exhibiting artwork nationally, Blair carries the title of Chesapeake Gallery Coordinator at Harford Community College and instructs ceramic classes at Towson University and Baltimore Clayworks. Using his sense of creativity, imagination and patience, Blair builds detailed sculptures to open the minds of viewers into a different reality, the unknown.
My life has flown by since I graduated from FSU in the spring of 2014. I moved back to the Baltimore area, where I am originally from, and set up a temporary garage studio in order to continue making artwork. I made sure not to lose my momentum that I had while working toward my MFA degree at FSU. During this time, I was also actively job searching in the art field, which I found out was a job within itself! I had a past relationship with Baltimore Clayworks, so I reconnected with them and began teaching adult ceramics classes soon after my return to Baltimore. I continued applied to teaching, gallery, art handling, art advising, and almost any other position in the arts with very little luck and almost no response from over 30 jobs! Yet persistence eventually paid off. After a year of only working very part time, and making lots of art, I landed a couple interviews and ended up accepting a gallery coordinator position at Harford Community College, which is where I am currently working. Soon after that, my wife and I bought a home in Baltimore County and I set up my at-home studio immediately. Within a couple months of working as the Chesapeake Gallery Coordinator, my former professor from Towson University contacted me and asked if I was interested in teaching ceramics at the university starting in the Fall of 2016, which I gladly accepted! My first semester went very well and I am scheduled to teach again this coming Spring of 2017.
As far as exhibiting goes, I try to get my work out there as much as possible and have had pretty good luck doing so since graduating from FSU. I had 2 solo exhibitions in 2016, as well as various national juried exhibitions, some of which I even won a couple awards. To start off 2017, I have a 2-person show from January-February titled “Phantasmagorical” at Howard County Arts Council, followed by a small group exhibition at the Chesapeake Art Center in March-April, as well as another solo exhibition in August at Glenview Mansion, located in Rockville, MD. On top of these, I have been accepted into some other national juried exhibitions in the coming months.
So for now, I am busy with 3 part-time jobs, learning how to be a homeowner, as well as making new sculptures for future exhibitions whenever I have the time… which tends to be between the hours of 10pm-4am.
During my time at FSU, I really focused on my studio practice and making lots of work. This allowed me to experiment with a variety of mediums and methods that I would have never had the time to otherwise. Getting a rhythm down and knowing how I work and think as an artist were two very important things that helped me to continue making work after leaving FSU.
I also learned how to act as a professional in the field of art. Gaining confidence in myself and my work was also something that I learned from the MFA program at FSU. This has allowed me to give gallery talks without feeling overwhelmed with nerves and self-doubt.
While earning my MFA, I was also Vice President and member of the LGA, League of Graduate Artists. This leadership role gave me the experience necessary to confidently take on my current role as the Chesapeake Gallery Coordinator at my local community college.
Use your studio time wisely while you are in school! Do not waste time overthinking things. Chances are you will not have the same amount of time or resources that you currently have after you graduate.
Push yourself to your breaking point, then push farther. Strong artists are the ones who can take a harsh critique, learn from it, and move forward. The field of art is extremely competitive, so you really have to stand out amongst others in order to be seen and heard. So crank out work and progress as much as you can while you are in school… and apply to exhibitions to get your work out there! Also, use other artists as inspirations and use their knowledge to your advantage.
Lastly, start looking for jobs in the field before you graduate. This will increase your chances of landing a position that you are interested in before others… something I failed to do.