Degree Programme in Fine Arts

The studies in fine arts focus on personal aspirations, meetings between the teachers and the students, and personal guidance. The degree programme in fine arts offers teaching in sculpture, painting, printmaking and time and space arts. In time and space art students may specialise in moving image, photography, or site and situation specific art. 

Aim and Content of Programme

The degree programme in fine arts encourages you to find your strengths and your individual means of expression and interests within art. It provides the opportunity for you to develop the core competencies and skills of an artist: to work independently, understanding your manifold role in the context of contemporary art and society.


In the 5.5 years of study, you will first complete a bachelor's degree and then a master’s degree. First-year students begin their studies with a course called An introduction to independent artistic work and the subject areas, after which they choose their subject area. The Academy offers teaching in four subject areas: sculpture, painting, printmaking and time and space arts. The Time and Space Arts subject area has three specialisations: moving image, photography, or site and situation specific art.


Artistic work and related theory comprise the core of the studies. In addition to coursework in fine arts, students complete courses in exhibition studies, art history, art theory, philosophy, and languages.  The degree programme in fine arts offers several courses in English. Approximately 15% of students come from outside Finland, some of them for degree studies and some for exchange studies.


Students are encouraged to take courses from specialisations other than their own, within the limits of their study plan, and to engage in versatile artistic work using different media.

Programme in a nutshell:

  • Target degree: Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Fine Arts (BFA and MFA)
  • Scope of the degree: 210 + 120 credits
  • Teaching languages: Finnish, English, Swedish
  • Next time to apply: to Master's studies on August 2018, to Bachelor's and Master's studies on January 2019


Subject Areas

The subject areas in Degree Programme in Fine Arts are sculpture, painting, printmaking, and time and space arts. The time and space arts subject area has three specialisations: Moving Image, Photography, or Site and Situation Specific Art. Read more on each subject area below.



The subject area in sculpture examines the use of three-dimensional space in artistic work. Studies are founded on hands-on work and keeping the traditions of sculpture alive. The focus is also on the command of various approaches in contemporary sculpture, an in-depth understanding of the techniques available and utilising these in the student’s own artistic work.


The instruction in the sculpture subject area contains, in addition to installations and works of art located in galleries or museums, the exploration of time, space and situation specific processes. Furthermore, the subject area emphasizes understanding of public space and works placed in public spaces. The main emphasis of the studies is in the independent artistic work of the student, advised through discussions, critique sessions and seminar work. The objectives of independent artistic work are to support the expression and concepts of the student and the development of creative problem solving abilities.


Thematic lectures in sculpture as well as artist-led projects and workshops organised both in Finland and abroad contribute to the studies on the basics of artistic tools and methods, intended for all students, introducing the materials, techniques and working methods in sculpture.



Tuition in the painting study programme is broad and takes account of the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary practice. The instruction aims at extending the students’ views on what painting could be, what it might mean and the ways in which it relates and interacts with other forms. In other words, there is no single idea of what constitutes contemporary painting, it is constantly changing and adapting. Commonality can be found in aspects such as its site‐specificity, social context and its relationship to different scientific disciplines and culture more generally.


Instruction in painting is conceptual at its core but also discursive and practical. The primary focus is on seminars, where student works are discussed in small groups every week, and the importance of the students’ independent artistic work is considered to be the first and foremost priority. Aspects of instruction includes the materiality and extended field of painting; comparing painting with other forms of expression and analysing the language(s) of painting. In addition, there is highly specialized instruction in Material Studies, which goes hand in hand with more conceptual and discursive aspects of the painting programme.


Teaching methods include seminars, workshops, lectures, reading groups, study trips and guidance of independent artistic work. During the studies, the student gains personal understanding of artistic work and it ́s relationships with society and the world.



The instruction in the printmaking subject area explores the methods of print media, printmaking, in relation to its tradition, reinterpretations and its significance as a part of contemporary art.

The processes of artistic activities are approached as an attitude and outlook that take into consideration the duality of the art of print-making. The printing block and the imprint cre-ated are both present in the process. Tradition-ally, the imprint has referred to a paper print, but in contemporary printmaking it can refer to various other forms. The duality of the approach also results in new practices of contemporary art in the exhibition of printmaking, such as installations, animations and experimental film.

A major part of the studies is made up of the student’s own individual artistic work, with the interaction between the student and teachers and personal discussions as essential features. The objective is to develop the student’s own vision in such a manner that the expression is in control of the method, not vice versa.

The purpose of the subject area of Printmaking is to provide the student with comprehensive skills and knowledge of the expressive possibilities, various methods and material basics of printmaking. Students are challenged to seek their own artistic solutions and expressions. Exhibition visits, lectures and artist introductions, meetings with critics and studio visits are all part of the instruction.

Time and Space Arts

Time and Space Arts

The instruction in the subject area of time and space arts focuses on the spatial, conceptual and bodily dimensions of artistic activities. The starting point is that art is, by nature, processes and events. The time and space arts have a tendency to reach outwards and they contain the element of constant exploration and experiments. The artistic work has strong connections to media and visual culture and to the extending field of the fine arts, in which the artist’s role can take many forms.


The student can place emphasis on one of the three specialisations of the subject area: moving image, photography, or site and situation specific art. The objective of this subject area is to provide the students with a thorough understanding of these fields of art as well as provide insight to the manners in which they are interconnected and linked to the general history and theory of art. Instruction in the Time and Space Arts is composed of courses, workshops, seminars and independent artistic work supported and monitored during individual contact sessions of instruction. In addition to the permanent teaching staff, instruction is given by a num-ber of visiting artists.


Students are encouraged to find their own approach and to experiment with new methods of expression as well as to explore the possibilities that time, space and installations offer. The work can also have performative, inclusive and social elements. The final work of art can take the form of an intervention, installation, performance or a video, photography or audio work, among other possibilities. The objective of the work is to render the sensitivity of observation and develop critical thinking. Through practice and theory, students are encouraged to find their own strengths, methods and contents of their artistic work. This is a way to promote the students’ artistic work and thinking.

Career opportunities

After graduating from the study programme in fine arts, you can work as a free artist or in various expert roles on the field of visual arts.


A master's degree in fine arts makes you eligible for doctoral studies in fine arts.

Teaching staff

The teaching staff of the Academy of Fine Arts is composed of distinguished artist-teachers who are actively involved in expert and reviewer responsibilities both in Finland and internationally. The instruction at the Academy is complemented by the expertise of its visiting professors, both Finnish and international. The visiting teaching staff hosts thematic workshops and special courses and their instruction offers the students opportunities for expanding their technical skills. Visiting teachers can also take on responsibilities of thesis supervisors, examiners and experts.


Tuition at the Academy of Fine Arts accentuates individual, one-to-one instruction that takes place in the student's studio and in the common studio and work facilities. In the student’s own subject area, each student is appointed a tutoring teacher, who keeps a close eye on the student.


Through their expertise and professional networks, the teaching staff is able to introduce the students to the field of fine arts in Finland and internationally and also offers an excellent professional basis for working as an artist.

Professor of Sculpture

Professor of Sculpture

Professor Villu Jaanisoo (b. 1963 in Tallinn, Estonia) graduated from the Department of Sculpture of the Estonian Academy of Arts in 1989 and taught sculpture in Finland, at the Art Institute of Kankaanpää and the School of Art and Media of the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, during the 1990s. From 2006 to 2008 he was the Professor of Sculpture at the Estonian Academy of Arts.


Jaanisoo’s works have featured in solo and group exhibitions both in Finland and internationally since 1984. As a sculptor, he is renowned for his versatile use of materials and his interpretations of the discipline’s traditions. Jaanisoo has produced great many works of art for public spaces in Finland as well as internationally. His previous responsibilities also include the post of the Artistic Director at the Pirkkala Sculpture Park in Finland and numerous expert posts and positions of trust.

Professors of Painting

Professors of Painting

Professor Fergus Feehily  (b. 1968, Ireland) is an artist working within the field of painting, at times in the broadest definitions of the term, his work has sometimes been described as not quite painting and as having a peculiar relationship to reticence and revelation. 


Feehily has exhibited widely. Solo exhibitions include presentations at Capital, San Francisco (2015), The Suburban, Milwaukee (2015), Misako & Rosen, Tokyo (2013 and 2010), The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2012 and 2009), Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London (2011), The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX (2011), Galerie Christian Lethert, Cologne (2010) and Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (2008). His work has also been shown in numerous group exhibitions, including Why not live for Art? II - 9 collectors reveal their treasures, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo (2013), Painter Painter, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013), Changing States: Contemporary Irish Art & the Francis Bacon Studio, BOZAR, Center for Fine Arts, Brussels (2013), Painting Expanded, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2011) and Twenty, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2011). His work is included in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art and The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.


Feehily has an MFA from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and studied also at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin.


Professor Tarja Pitkänen-Walter (b. 1960) is known as an artist who explores the extended field of painting. She explores painting as a vitalising action and process. The multi-sensory, material and spatial elements of the painting are often the themes of her art.


Pitkänen-Walter studied at the Finnish Art Academy School and the University of Art and Design, Helsinki. Pitkänen-Walter graduated with the Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2006.


In addition to the Academy, she has taught at the Institute of Fine Arts in Lahti, the University of Gothenburg (Valand) and the Art School MAA. Pitkänen-Walter has been involved in Finnish and international solo and group exhibitions since 1982. She has also held a number of positions of trust.

Read Professor Annu Vertanen's profile here

Read Professor Annu Vertanen's profile here

Professor Annu Vertanen (b. 1960) is an internationally renowned printmaking artist, whose work has exhibited around the world. Vertanen has several years of teaching experience, e.g. from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, University of Virginia and University of Wyoming in the USA, Academy of Fine Arts, and Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.


Through her teaching, Vertanen hopes to highlight the diverse nature of contemporary printmaking and its ability to pass on information and content: printmaking is not just about aesthetic choices, but also about communication and conveying the message to the public. With this in mind, both industrial printing and printing by hand are possible methods for making art, yet very distinct from each other.


In 2014, Vertanen won the international contest Prix de print, arranged by the magazine Art in Print, with her work Breathing Touch. She was awarded the state prize for visual arts the same year.  The decision was made based on her extensive career in developing and expanding the artistic expression in printmaking.

Professors of Time and Space Arts

Professors of Time and Space Arts

Professor Katja Eydel (1969, Germany) is an artist primarily working with photography. In her works, she addresses social issues and the construction of identities. Besides her individual photographical practice, she has a background in collaborative projects and other media.


Eydel often approaches her areas of interests with the help of research, while she also believes in the strength of perception as a tool of cognition. These cornerstones of her work, along with her conceptual skills, also form the basis of her teaching programme.


Eydel’s previous positions include visiting teacher at the California College of the Arts in Los Angeles, professor of photography at the Merz Academy in Stuttgart, and research associate at ETH Zurich. Selected publications: Schattenfuge / Shadow Gap - Sternberg Press Berlin/NY, 2014 - Model ve Sembol. Die Erfindung der Türkei / The invention of Turkey - Katja Eydel, Sternberg Press Berlin/NY, 2006 - Teilt mit - Katja Eydel, Goldrausch IT Berlin, 2006 - Belgrad Interviews. Katja Diefenbach/Katja Eydel, b_books Berlin, 2000.


Professor Ulrika Ferm (b.1972 in Finland) is conceptual artist whose projects involve a lot of in-depth research and often are site-specific. The research often tackle historical and socio-political topics which create a solid conceptual underpinnings for her artworks. She mostly works in photography, installation and in collaborations often containing performance elements.


In 2009 she published the book Emergency Weather. Emergency Weather exemplifies a kind of multi-layered, process-oriented work-cycle and was developed on residencies and galleries in Dublin and Helsinki. A follow-up project – also related to weather – became an ongoing long-term project.


In addition to her artistic projects Ulrika Ferm belongs to an artist collective that runs a renowed project space and residency program called Platform in Vaasa which presents performance art and other site and situation specific disciplines. Apart from founding and working with Platform Ferm also has a broad curatorial and organizational work experience. Ulrika Ferm has already received considerable grants, prices and nominations. In 2002 she won the Young Finnish artist of the year award. Her works have been in exhibitions in Finland and internationally.


Ulrika Ferm lives and works between Finland and Berlin, Germany. She has an MA from PALLAS, University of Art and Design, Helsinki (1995–1998) and also graduated from Hochschule der Kunste (Prof. Katharina Sieverding), Berlin.


Professor Salla Tykkä (b. 1973) is a visual artist who uses film and photography in her works. Her films are often simplified scenes that delve into the structures of the human mind and society, as well as the interplay between them. The main motivation and the main themes discussed in Tykkä’s works are the need to change the world and our ways of looking at the world. Her thesis project at the Academy of Fine Arts, Lasso (2000), depicts a short moment of a character watching someone else, a traditionally constructed film scene which grows into an allegory of the private colliding with the public, the inner colliding with the outer world. These themes have been recurring in her body of works up until the present day. 


Tykkä has had many solo exhibitions in different museums and galleries, such as: Galerie Anhava (Helsinki, 2015), BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (Newcastle, 2013), Hayward Gallery: Project Space (London, 2010), Bonniers Konsthall (Stockholm, 2007). She has also participated in numerous group exhibitions in Finland and abroad, including: Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art (Yekaterinburg, 2015), The Mystery of Tears (The Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast, 2013), Nothing in the World But Youth (Turner Contemporary, Margate, 2011), Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal (Montréal, 2007). Her films are a frequent addition to film festivals.


In 2010 and 2011, Tykkä served as the Professor of Moving Image at the Academy of Fine Arts.


If you are interested in studying fine arts, you can apply to the 5.5 year programme leading to Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degree or to 2 year programme leading to Master of Fine Arts degree. Students in the 5.5 year programme will choose their subject area during the first year of study. In 2 year master's studies you will choose your study programme in connection with the admission process.


Applications to both admissions are accepted annually.