A low-residency, intensive year round program providing the conceptual, critical, historical, and practical knowledge needed to sustain a successful studio.

  • The MFA in Book Arts + Printmaking is one of the most prominent and established professional programs in the country and also one of the few programs providing a dual Master’s degree in both disciplines. This unparalleled program offers students a profound conceptual and technical experience as presented through an intense, interactive and rigorous studio environment. The breadth and depth of possibilities exploring the art of the book, printmaking, and the narrative are enormous and complex. Location of the program within the College of Art, Media and Design allows students access to a range of dynamic courses spanning from photography to craft and materials studies led by esteemed artists such as Warren Seelig; a variety of graduate seminars and liberal arts courses; and additional vibrant programming such as the Visiting Writer Series launched in 2013 with a reading by Joyce Carol Oates. Recent speakers include Kazim Ali and Katherine Bode-Lang.

    The University of the Arts provides an environment fostering conceptual development, preparing students for a variety of professional careers or advanced studies within the printmaking, papermaking and book art fields. Students are able to engage in critical contemporary and historical discourse and apply this to methods of professional practices as a foundation upon which to develop careers.

    University of the Arts alumni are a diverse group who excel in careers in museums, independent studios, conservation labs, universities and publishing. Our alumni are a close-knit group who continue dialogue and engagement with each other for years. Notable alumni include Tara O’Brien, director of Preservation and Conservation Services at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Melanie Mowinski, assistant professor of Art at the Masschusetts College of Liberal Arts; Matthew Liddle, director of the School of Art and Design at Western Carolina University and co-director of Paper & Book Intensive; and Berwyn Hung, professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU Brand Center.

    Another prominent alumna is Katie Baldwin, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama teaching Book Arts and Printmaking. She has received numerous grants including the Leeway Foundation, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and the Barbara Deming Foundation. She has exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art and the Print Center among many other venues. She is a recipient of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship; is a Stein Fellow at The Center for Book Arts in New York; and is the Victor Hammer Fellow at Wells Book Arts Center, Aurora, NY.

    Victoria Burge is an alumnus and artist living and working in Philadelphia. Her work has been part of national and international exhibitions including shows at venues in New York City, including The International Print Center, The Center For Book Arts, The Kentler International Drawing Space, as well as The Print Center in Philadelphia, The Hunterdon Museum of Art in New Jersey, and Gallery Hasta in India. Press and publications include reviews in ARTnews and front cover illustrations for Delphinium Press and Conveyor Magazine. Burge’s work can be found in corporate, private, and public collections, including The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The New York Public Library and The British Museum. She is represented by The Print Center Gallery Store in Philadelphia, Julian Page Fine Art in London, and Aspinwall Editions in New York.

  • Interdisciplinary in its approach, the UArts Book Arts and Printmaking graduate curriculum prepares students for multidisciplinary applications in the contemporary art world and promotes the transference of ideas utilizing diverse mediums such as printmaking, papermaking, bookbinding, letterpress printing and editioning in collaboration with paper as a multiple for the presentation of concepts and ideas. The program encourages students to cultivate a hybrid methodology among these disciplines—exploring text as well as image, the temporal as well as the spatial, the three-dimensional as well as the two-dimensional, and the traditional as well as the experimental.

    The program champions the union of the head and the hand, the technical and the conceptual, and promotes critical thinking—a timely response to ethical, technical and social changes in current printmaking and book art pedagogy. Moreover, the program participates in the development and discussion of new media and digital technologies, advancing our existing rich interdisciplinary program of study. Master classes and critiques conducted by renowned professionals in the field are scheduled each year. Students engage in dialogue with these individuals on many levels to further their visual vocabulary. Among the roster are Julie Chen, Daniel Kelm, Karen Kunc, Julia Miller, Judith Brodsky, Betty Bright, Mindell Dubansky, Lesley Dill, Ruth Fine, Johanna Drucker and Buzz Spector.

    This NASAD accredited 60-credit MFA program is structured as a two year program.

    Year One

    Fall semester
    The history and craft of handmade paper 3.0 credits
    The Book: Past and Present 1.5 credits
    Print Media 3.0 credits
    Letterpress 3.0 credits
    Bookbinding I 3.0 credits

    Spring semester
    The Digital Province 1.5 credits
    Bookbinding II 3.0 credits
    On Paper: collaborations in Print and Pulp 3.0 credits
    The visual voice: Image, Language, Typography 3.0 credits
    Elective Graduate seminar 3.0 credits
    Or elective studio course
    creative writing course 1.5 credits

    Internship opportunities are also available for credit

    Year Two

    Fall semester
    Thesis Studio I 3.0 credits
    Thesis Writing seminar I 1.5 credits
    Bookbinding III 1.5 credits
    University Seminar: Criticism 3.0 credits
    Expanded Print Media 3.0 credits
    Elective 1.5 – 3.0 credits

    Spring semester
    The Atelier 1.5 credits
    Thesis Studio II 6.0 credits
    Thesis writing seminar II 3.0 credits
    Bookbinding IV 1.5 credits
    An elective or independent study 3.0 credits
    may be taken

    Course descriptions

    The History and Craft of Handmade Paper

    This course instructs students in the history and practice of hand papermaking: the historical study of paper composition; conservation techniques; and the study of fibers and papers best suited for printing. This course will also further elevate student knowledge in the field of conservation and its associated professional practices. Participants will gain knowledge in the history, conservation, and artistic relevance of paper, including the review of historic and contemporary applications of hand papermaking. The primary focus of this course is the technical application and production of pulp fiber, as well as the production of handmade paper for various applications. The format focuses on technical demonstrations to familiarize students with the actions and formal languages employed in the production of handmade paper. Students will gain historic knowledge of papermaking as both a craft and as a practice. Additionally, they will develop a working knowledge of papermaking practices and problem-solving skills, including fiber preparation and sheet formation. The understanding of centuries-old methods and its chemistry are essential in the discussion of paper as an artistic medium. Through weekly readings, both Western and Eastern craft will be reviewed addressing the history of paper, quality, and conservation issues. This course also compliments The Book: Past and Present and the spring course The Visual Voice.

    The Book: Past and Present

    The history of the book occurs in unison with the research of contemporary artists books in order for students to gain a thorough understanding of the historical precedence of the medium; and gain knowledge to position their own work within a historical, cultural, and contemporary context. This course will alternate between the history of the book one week, and then contemporary artist books which incorporate or respond to the historical materials covered in the preceding class, the following week. The class will make site visits to prominent collections to view and study pertinent examples. Students will also be expected to write and analyze in a critical manner the materials covered while examining how they relate to their own art making practices and realizations. Hands-on study of rare books, manuscripts and artists books from antiquity to the present, with discussions dealing with their structural, historical, and artistic significance as well as an investigation into the artist’s book as a complex art form. The class meets at the Library Company of Philadelphia, with field trips to local special collections such as the Free Library of Philadelphia, The Kislak Center at PENN, The Philosophical Society, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, among others.

     Supplemental workshops with renowned master craftsmen will address specific techniques and historical materials being studied in History of the Book, and will be conducted in association with the structures and materials being taught in Bookbinding I. This sequencing will create a cohesive academic and applied connection between both courses, providing a solid foundation of interactive experiences, resulting in a fuller understanding of materials and their applications.

    Print Media: An Exploration of Process

    This course is an introduction to and an exploration of basic printmaking techniques intrinsic to the production of books and prints—Lithography and intaglio are the main processes covered but relief, monotype, collography will also be covered as dictated by need. Projects will be assigned allowing each student to gravitate toward media which is best suited to express their own individual concepts while being encouraged to fully experiment with those less familiar. Emphasis is on both traditional and experimental print processes in union with conceptual development.


    This course will present the mechanics of letterpress printing, in union with basic elements of typographic design, utilizing traditional and nontraditional printing techniques such as monotype, pressure printing, and lino/wood cut. Thorough press operation and maintenance will be covered, as well as imposition, various inking methods, and proper impression.

    Bookbinding I

    Bookbinding I is a hands‑on introduction to the materials, tools and techniques used in bookbinding. Students create basic book structures and develop their hand skills— emphasis is placed on craftsmanship and creativity. This comprehensive foundation course prepares students for intermediate courses and further explorations of the medium.

    The Digital Province      

    This course will cover the specific digital platforms, hardware, and software for creating imagery and text in relation to printmaking and prepress operation processes. These include: digital printing, preparing digital files for photopolymer or offset plate output; using a laser cutter for creating watermark stencils or pressure printing stencils; and digital book production. Assignments will be based around the use of specific techniques, or in collaboration, to fully realize a project.

    On Paper: Collaborations in Print and Pulp

    This course offers further development in exploring handpapermaking as a conceptual medium- building upon the instruction provided in The History and Craft of Handmade Paper. Students will explore the medium as a means for creating conceptually based work in unison with printmaking techniques (learned in their first semester from Print Media and Letterpress) and book binding techniques acquired in Bookbinding I. Students will create, develop and implement their own projects in order to focus on developing a small body of work in association with the Visual Voice Course to be exhibited in the end of semester exhibition held in Gallery 224.

    With the ability to focus on papermaking in collaboration with all other media learned thus far in the program, students will have a stronger collaborative skillset. Additionally, in union with the digital based course The Digital Province, students will have the ability to successfully apply digital technology in their hand papermaking work as well. They will have greater control over their printed imagery and text on handmade paper and better knowledge of paper and fiber selection.

    Bookbinding II  

    Building upon skills acquired in Bookbinding I, students complete a series of projects based on contemporary and historical models that serve as departure points for innovative bindings. Both non-adhesive and adhesive structures incorporating various board attachments, sewing styles and end bands will be explored, as well as enclosures.  This intermediate course prepares students for advanced courses that focus on refining skills and techniques.

    The Visual Voice: Language, Image, Typography

    Students will learn hand setting and printing from metal type on a Vandercook proof press, and printing text and illustration from photopolymer plates, both in relation to edition printing.

    This course will focus on the development of each student’s independent visual voice in applied, investigative and experimental elements of design, book arts and printmaking in association with creative writing. Projects will focus on exploring the relationship between text and image and an integration of the fine and design arts. The ability to augment language proficiency on both verbal and written levels will be stressed. The grid and essential design elements will be covered in order to institute an understanding of typographic canons. Additionally, students will create their own typeface. A myriad of creative writing exercises will complement major projects completed over the semester.

    Thesis Studio I

    This course will be comprised of studio seminar coursework preparing students for developing a cohesive body of work based on skills and knowledge acquired thus far in the program. Guest critics will be invited over the course of the semester. Tutorial and critic based. Professional practices and issues related to the fields of printmaking and book and publication arts are explored through discussions, lectures, and field trips in the first semester. Students will complete their professional development requirements: resume, cover letters, grant applications, residency applications, gallery packet and conduct a public professional presentation of work. The MFA candidate develops an individual course of study in preparation for the required Thesis Exhibition during the final semester.

     Thesis Writing Seminar I

    In this seminar students will develop a series of papers which will lead to a written thesis in the spring semester— a researched critical paper that informs and elaborates on his or her thesis exhibition and studio practice. The intent of the thesis is to locate the student’s practice within the landscape of contemporary art practice and in relation to its history and traditions.

    Bookbinding III

    This advanced course focuses on advanced bindings and techniques as well as creative solutions to support and develop book content— emphasis is placed on conceptual development of structure, content and form to prepare students for thesis work. Fine binding styles, leather paring, covering methods and advanced finishing techniques will be investigated.

     University Seminar: Criticism & Theory            

    An interdisciplinary seminar in which advanced graduate students from various disciplines in the visual arts further examine the nature of image-making with particular attention to the theories and applications of criticism.

     Expanded Print Media

    This course provides further exploration of advanced techniques not covered in the Print Media course, including experimental and nontraditional techniques and photo-based processes tailored to each student’s individual voice. Sculptural prints and installation works can also be explored through site-specific projects.

    Thesis Studio II

    This course covers the planning, implementation and execution of a mature body of work to be prepared for Thesis Exhibition at the end of the semester. This course is structured as independent meetings and the scheduling is by arrangement in association with each student’s thesis committee.

    Thesis Writing Seminar II

    In this seminar students will develop a written thesis, a researched critical paper that informs and elaborates on his or her thesis exhibition and studio practice. The intent of the thesis is to locate the student’s practice within the landscape of contemporary art practice and in relation to its history and traditions.

     The Atelier      

    Students work side by side with a practicing artist and a master printer—the professor of the course— to develop and produce an edition. Students additionally receive a printer’s proof.  Previous artists have included: James Siena, Lesley Dill and Nicola Lopéz.

    Bookbinding IV

    This final bookbinding course is structured as a workshop in order for students to investigate and develop structure and content that support thesis work. Discussion of issues central to book arts, contemporary art and studio practice transpire, as well as critiques and individual instruction.

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    As well as receiving individual private studio spaces, graduate students have access to newly renovated state-of-the-art facilities: a fully equipped printmaking studio for intaglio, relief, lithography, serigraphy; a non-silver printmaking lab and polymer platemaking equipment; a fully equipped papermaking studio for Eastern and Western papermaking as well as sculptural work; a letterpress studio furnished with wood and metal type and four Vandercook proof presses; a fully equipped graduate bindery, a graduate print studio with a Vandercook proof press, Washington hand press, platen press, and etching press; a private editioning studio with a Vandercook proof press, etching and lithography press; and a digital lab furnished with a laser cutter, large format printers and film output. http://bookprintmfa.uarts.edu/equipment-list

    Additionally, students have access to the offset lithography studio by working with master printers in the Borowsky Center for Publication Arts on the Heidelberg KORTS http://www.uarts.edu/about/borowsky-center-publication-arts. The center offers students the ability to participate in collaborations with renowned artists as well as to print their own editions. Utilizing the vast opportunities the University of the Arts’ studios offer, the MFA program proudly unites our students with renowned artists through the process of collaboration, most recently having completed a handmade paper and letterpress-printed edition for artist Lesley Dill. The program will continue to engage in valuable experiences such as this in the future.

    Proximity to New York City and Washington DC affords the ability to visit museums, galleries, printshops, papermaking studios and artists studios on a regular basis and moreover, to establish lasting relationships with professionals associated with these venues. Our faculty, well known in their respective fields, have connections to prominent resources and professionals and foster our students’ relationship with them. Hedi Kyle, a former faculty member at UArts and head book conservator of the American Philosophical Society, garnered both recognition and attention for the program with her innovative, complex and highly skilled bindings. She has, and continues to have, a lasting impact on our program and on our students.

    Please visit our NEWS page to view the renovated studios.

  • The city of Philadelphia, vibrant in history, culture and contemporary art, is a central component and well-acknowledged companion to our program. Of particular importance, the education our program provides extends beyond the University, into the prominent historical institutions of Philadelphia and provides an arena for research, academic exploration and inspiration—it is a fluid classroom. It is crucial that our students are knowledgeable in the historical precedence of the book in order to more fully realize a contemporary visual voice. Our students frequent the collections of the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the American Philosophical Society, the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Our students gain valuable experience through internships at these institutions, and many continue employment in the curatorial/conservation field as well as the fine art field due to these relationships and experiences. Moreover, Philadelphia also offers a vital contemporary art landscape from printmaking collectives such as Second State Press and Space 1026, to artist-run spaces such as Vox Populi to the established Fabric Print Workshop and Museum and the Print Center. The opportunities for our students are vast.