TRAVIS SHAFFER

Assistant Teaching Professor / University of Missouri School of Visual Studies / 2013 - present

Travis Shaffer (b. 1983 — Pennsylvania, USA) is a visual artist and publisher whose work has been exhibited at venues including the Museum Brandhorst (Munich), Gagosian Gallery (NYC, Paris, Beverly Hills), FRAC Poitou-Charentes (France), Arts Santa Mònica (Barcelona), Mews Project Space (London), and Les Rencontres d'Arles (Arles). Shaffer’s artist’s books and editions are held in public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the MoMA Library, the Brooklyn Museum, and Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book + Manuscript Library. In 2013, a selection of Shaffer's artist's books were published in the MIT press book “Various Small Books: Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha.” Shaffer is also a member of ABC [Artist's Books Cooperative] and runs theretherenow. [a risograph press].


White Work

2013 – present

White Work is an exercise in opacity.

© Travis Shaffer


Q&A: UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI—COLUMBIA

Why University of Missouri–Columbia

Our fully-funded MFA program offers incoming photography students dedicated space to develop their practice under the supervision of an interdisciplinary faculty. 

At the BFA level, we offer a rigorous program of study with demonstrated success in supporting students’ transition into full-time photographic (artistic) practice or placement within MFA programs.

What courses do you teach? 

I personally teach the following courses: Beginning Photography; Advanced Photography; Photography and the Artist’s Multiple; Graduate Critique and Practice; Graduate Photography.

How does your program bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary photographic practices? 

Our program engages photography in direct relationship to its expanding definition; to photography’s past and present position within the fine arts; and within the diverse landscape of imaging practices and visual culture.  

Our curriculum includes a beginning color digital course and an intermediate large-format black and white photography class wherein all enrolled students get their own toyo field camera for the semester. Approximately 40% of our undergraduate students continue shooting film at the Advanced level.

Due to facility restrictions, we do not frequently teach historic processes in photography however a number of them are embraced by our fibers program (which has a national reputation for papermaking). In Fall of 2017. Art merged with Art History, Digital Storytelling, and Film Studies which supports student cross-over into courses in video, film, animation, and other time-based media.

Describe the process of output for photographs. 

My colleague (Joe Johnson) and I feel strongly about the imperative for students to present their work as appropriate for their given project. After completing his MFA at MASSart, Joe spent a number of years as a darkroom printer working for prominent Boston artist/photographers; He is also an avid collector of photography books. My fluid studio practice had meant that my practice at times makes me a bookmaker or an installation artist or a new-media/net artist. This spectrum of interests and expertise shared between the two of us has reinforced a strong consideration of the photographic print and materiality. Generally our students make prints in all sections (darkroom or archival inkjet). Occasionally, a student will determine that their particular project requires them to produce an instagram account, or wallpaper, or a risograph zine, even in one case a spotify playlist, etc. 

Our facilities allow for traditional silver gelatin printing, custom-calibrated archival inkjet printing up to 44” wide. We have a Hasselblad virtual drum scanner and several flatbed film scanners for students who choose to shoot film but print digitally. Additionally we have a high quality color laser printer and a 2-color Riso MZ790U that support student artist’s books, photobooks, and democratic multiples such as zines.

Describe the critique format. 

This varies at the graduate and undergraduate levels. 

The undergraduate classroom is critique centric. Our critiques are not technically ‘open’ to the public; however, motivated students not enrolled in said course can frequently be found participating as a part of the critical mass. are not formal external undergraduate critiques but our students frequently can be found sharing work on the crit wall with peers during any of the 45 weekly hours that our lab is staffed by student monitors for open use.

Our graduate students are integrated with the entire Studio Art MFA student body. All MU MFA’s participate in a group critique class during 5 of their 6 semesters at MU.

Where can we keep up with your photo department online?

The best advice would be to find and follow our past and present students. You can find them tagged in posts on our instagram account:


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