A Summer at PAFA Led to a Career in Art

Spending five weeks at PAFA’s Summer Academy was exciting but scary for Luna Garisto (BFA ’21).

“It was the first time I was away from home for a decent amount of time and being 16 it was a lot, and it was really scary,” they said. “I had never done anything like it before, intensely practicing art for that long, and I loved it.”

The now PAFA undergrad and their family were exploring options for college when Garisto’s art teacher recommended PAFA.

“I knew I wanted to be in Philly,” said the York county, PA native. “I was looking at Temple and UArts but PAFA seemed like a good fit because it had very small class sizes and that’s what I was drawn to.”

Garisto decided to attend Summer Academy the summer before their senior year of high school to try out PAFA, and also make work for the portfolio that would eventually get them accepted to the Academy.
 

  • Luna Garisto (BFA '21) during their time at PAFA's Summer Academy program.
    Luna Garisto (BFA '21) during their time at PAFA's Summer Academy program.
  • Luna Garisto (BFA '21) welding in the PAFA studios.
    Luna Garisto (BFA '21) welding in the PAFA studios.
  • Printmaking work by Luna Garisto (BFA '21).
    Printmaking work by Luna Garisto (BFA '21).
  • Printmaking work by Luna Garisto (BFA '21).
    Printmaking work by Luna Garisto (BFA '21).

Summer Academy students are also eligible for the Next Steps Scholarship. The $1,000 per year scholarship is awarded to all Summer Academy alums who enroll in PAFA's BFA program.

In addition to the financial support and expanded portfolio, Garisto said the Summer Academy showed them new avenues of creativity.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do. I figured I would always do painting because that’s what I did in high school and then I was introduced to printmaking and just fell in love with it,” they said. “I’m glad they had us try everything.”

Garisto is now a Printmaking major, with a minor in Drawing. They aspire to become a tattoo artist. A dream Garisto’s had since they were 14 years old.

“In high school I would draw on myself with markers and eventually I thought, ‘I want to do this on people but I want to make it permanent’,” Garisto said. “I have my own business. I make and sell temporary tattoos and stickers so I’m already working my way up.”

After graduating from PAFA, Garisto plans on apprenticing with an established tattoo artist for several years to learn the craft.

“People have to put blood, sweat, and tears into their artwork, just like you have to put blood, sweat, and tears into getting and creating a tattoo,” they said.

Garisto said drawing is important to a future career path but feels a Printmaking major will serve them better as a tattoo artist.

“A lot of tattoo artists actually make their own prints and design and sell them on t-shirts and tote bags,” Garisto said. “Printmaking is what I need to learn so because I can sell a t-shirt faster than I can sell a painting or a drawing. Someone will much rather buy a $25 t-shirt than a $250 drawing.”

This business-minded approach to a career in art assuaged any concerns Garisto’s parents had about their child becoming an artist.

“My dad is an interior designer and he went to art school as well and he knows how hard it is out there to be a working artist,” Garisto said. “It was definitely really difficult for them to send me to PAFA and I think the Summer Academy is what helped them be comfortable with it more than anything else.”

Learn more about PAFA's Summer Academy