Art After Guilford

What Happens After Graduation

On Thursday, April 27th, 2017 four Guilford College Alumni came to discuss what they did after the graduated with an art degree. Each Alumni talked for about 10 minutes then answered any questions. Julia Hood, Natalia Petkov, Ray Knirs, and Ben Stinson all spoke on what they are doing with their degrees. It was a casual setting and was a great experience to hear what everyone had to say.

Julia Hood

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Julia Hood has a B.A. in Psychology and fine arts (sculpture), M.A. History of decorative arts. She graduated from Guilford College in 2006. In her junior year of college she studied abroad in London. Soon she began to intern in the Horniman Museum and Gardens. There she found objects, moved and packed up items and baby sat researchers who came. She figured out that research was way more than reading a bunch of smart peoples’ finding and fell in love with it the physical aspects of research. There she discovered her love for different types of items and decided to study decorative arts. After she Graduated in May 2011 She was looking for jobs she would enjoy doing. Julia found the Reynolda House Museum of American Arts, and has been working there for 5 and a half years. Julia Hood is an art educator at the Reynolds House and works with the special needs programs, adults with disabilities, children with disabilities, recovery programs, and many other programs that aid people who may develop at a different pace than others.

Other things Julia Hood does includes, printmaking, painting, sculpture. She gives talks every month about research on pieces in decorative arts. Julia helps organize and sets up events and shows. She creates a cute little comic type adventures with a little green chick that she received from a  friend’s daughter. She didn’t know what to do with it as first, but soon began to create tiny environments for the green chick. Thus the Adventures of Chick was created.

Julia Hood’s advice: Take a lot of art and art history classes. If you can do an internship, do it.


Natalia Petkov


Natalia Petkov is an artist. She graduated from Guilford College last year in 2016. Her focus is sculpture. After graduating she had nowhere to put her art because no one wanted to buy them. She had to pay $100 a month to have them stay in storage and as Natalia puts it, “it sucked”. She soon moved in with her grandma who she found out was terminally ill. She decided to just live her life. She went back home and realized that she hasn’t been in her studio for a while. Natalia decided to find a job related to her craft. She got a job at a boat shop restoring old wooden boats. She was surrounded by men and was always exhausted, it was an uncomfortable job. One day she Googled “art with old people” and began teaching with a program where she goes around various nursing homes and teaches Alzheimer’s and dementia patients art two days a week. She was working four jobs to make more money to survive off of. She didn’t like working so many jobs because she was never able to spend time in her studio to work on her art. Natalia felt that it was wrong to call herself an artist. Eventually she got an opportunity to be in a show. She immediately quit all of her jobs except for the teaching job which she adored. Natalia was asked to make happier art for the show because her art is usually more on the darker side. Natalia tried really hard to do as she was asked, but she couldn’t do it. With some advice from her previous instructor Mark, she decided to create whatever the heck she wanted. She submitted her work into the show and when she saw it she was completely embarrassed. Natalia didn’t like that she tried to make something that would sell that rather than making what she likes to make. After that experience she decided to do whatever she wanted to do. Because of this she was happier but she was a starving artist. She decide instead of going to four jobs she was going to find a job she can handle, that made enough money, with the least amount of hours. Nowadays, Natalia is a nanny of two adorable twins 3 days a week. She’s now in the studio 3 or 4 days a week. Natalia made up in her mind that she didn’t want to change her art, so she decided to get a job where she can still do what she wants. She didn’t need many jobs she just needed a schedule. Natalia Petkov has done so much in just a year, but she is now happy to call herself an artist.

Natalia Petkov’s advice: Take as many art classes as possible, even after graduation. They help keep your mind stimulated.


Ray Knirs


Ray Knirs has a B.A. in Arts at Guilford College, and also has a degree in teaching. Ray was a late bloomer. He had other plans for his life, but is glad he found his place at Guilford. His focus in art is Ceramics. He works as a mechanic but loves his job as an intern with Charlie Tefft. He loves that with art you never stop learning. Ray Knirs is now a teacher and an artist. He loves to teach, he loves to watch students grow and have that aha moment. He is at Guilford College to give help in the ceramic department about three nights a week, works with Charlie two days a week, and also teaches at Rockingham Community College and Greenhill.

Ray Knirs’s Advice: “Everything that you do today is setting you up for tomorrow. You can’t exactly plan you just have to put your foot in a direction that you want to do. You have to do the little things to get to where you’re going.” -Ray Knirs


Ben Stinson


After graduating from Guilford College he was trying to figure out how to become an artist. He says a lot of people don’t understand what being an artist means. The first job he got out of college was an internship shadowing professor Roy Nydorf in restoring historical cabins. He fell in love with that kind of art at Guilford College and he’s learned how to rebuild this dream around his family. He’s done a few shows at vintage markets and shows where he sets up a tent with his work to be shown and sold. No many people actually want to buy things and he says that can be rough. He has adapted to what people want without compromising his style within his work. Customers can bring their furniture to him for him to refurbish and upcycle them. He also makes metal figures and sells them. Ben Stinson believes that art should be for everyone so his prices vary depending on a range of factors including what the patron can afford on their budget. He’s opening up a store and studio full of vintage furniture he has refurbished and it’ll also be an art studio for Guilford Alumni.

Thanks to the four Alumni for sharing their experience with an art degree after gradating from Guilford College.

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