Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'We'll See If We Can Survive'

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'We'll See If We Can Survive'

Article excerpt

LIFE AFTER ART SCHOOL: In debt, sure, but also driven to create ... and to succeed

Scott Prather graduated from the Ringling College of Art and Design last spring with $90,000 in student loans. This helps explain why he is so excited about freelance work and an internship that pays $300 a week.

It beats waiting tables, he says, and it's a start.

Prather is prepared to sacrifice for his art, but he would rather not starve.

"This is our kind of artist-in-training year," says the 23-year- old Texas native, whose solo show at Clothesline Gallery and Boutique opens Friday. "This is where we'll see if we can survive, see what we can do."

Prather shares a north Sarasota house with three Ringling roommates. Each one pays $425 a month. Each has a tiny bedroom. The living room is more like a studio with easels and computers instead of sofas and chairs.

He looks at home padding around in moccasins, maroon pants and a striped shirt. He has close-cropped hair and a full beard. He is relentlessly optimistic, determined to find the bright side in everything.

Next year he plans to move on, perhaps to California, and begin building a career. His future is uncertain, but he makes even that sound exciting, with opportunities everywhere.

"My goal is to be flexible," he says. "To have the opportunity to say yes."

Unemployment rates

Most Ringling students do not stay in Sarasota after graduation, scattering to jobs and internships in cities across the country.

Prather keeps up with them on Facebook.

This one has a Hasbro internship, he says, scrolling down a computer screen. This one is at a greeting card company. This one went to Disney.

Those are the memorable ones, though, the star stories at an art college in a niche market.

Nationwide, employment statistics for college graduates are bleak, but not so bleak as in recent years. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the unemployment rate for college graduates under the age of 25 is 9.9 percent.

This is a little lower than the 12 percent rate in 2011 and 10.9 percent rate in 2010. It is a lot higher than the 6.5 percent rate in 2008, just before the Great Recession.

Competition for jobs and internships can be fierce, but not everyone is ready to join the rat race.

Chelsey Curtin, another 2012 Ringling graduate, works as a barista on Main Street. She does some freelance work as an illustrator, but sounds much more passionate about singing in a psychedelic rock band called the Buffalo Wizards.

Curtin says she didn't want to work for some big company, at least not right away. That may change. After another year in Sarasota, she plans to move on, too.

"I was thinking about California," she says. "I know that sounds loosey-goosey, but ... "

'Management mindset'

Charles Kovacs, Ringling director of career services, helps graduates plan their futures. …

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