The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division Named a 2015 Military Friendly® School

written by Georgia Schumacher 15 October 2014

LogoThe Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division is honored to have been named a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, the publisher of G.I. Jobs, Military Spouse, and Vetrepreneur® magazines.

The Military Friendly® Schools designation is awarded to the top 15% of colleges, universities, and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation. In total, the survey captures over 50 leading practices in supporting military students. Now in its sixth year, the Military Friendly® Schools designation and list provides service members transparent, data-driven ratings about post-military education.

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, we strongly value the commitment to our country made by military members and veterans. As part of our efforts to recognize the commitment and service of these students, we are proud to offer qualifying students numerous military education benefits, including a military scholarship. We also offer all military students a comprehensive review of their military experience and training to determine eligibility for transfer of credit toward our programs.

“The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division is proud to announce that we have been awarded Military Friendly® status once again for 2014-2015,” said Brandon Corley, Director of Student Financial Services. “We are honored to service the millions of active and veteran service members along with their families. We are committed to dedicating resources and staff to serve as military experts and to ensure that these service members receive the highest level of personalized customer service.”

For more information about our commitment to educating and supporting military students, visit http://www.aionline.edu/tuition/military-aid/.

How to Take Stunning Black and White Photos

written by Georgia Schumacher 14 October 2014

In today's digital world, taking a photograph may seem easier than ever. For the more advanced photographers, there’s Photoshop, but, even for the novice, there are countless apps that can add colors, tints, and filters to photos to give photos a unique, colorful flair. In reality, however, there's nothing more classic than the traditional black & white photo -- the original two-tone photo that made photography a classic art form in the first place.

Want to know more about taking black and white photos? Check out these simple tips below. For more in-depth information and guidance from our experienced instructors, consider enrolling in our photography classes and earning your degree or certificate.

1. Learn to look for lines

In a color photograph, color can guide a person's eye. The same isn't so with black and white photographs. Thus, to capture an impressive image, you should observe lines, shapes and shadows -- not color. A great way to practice is to watch black and white movies and see what images in the movie are visually pleasing.

2. Take advantage of texture

Because you won't have color to give your photos dimension, photographing a subject with texture helps make your photo stand out. Consider antique objects that are worn, brick walls and other objects with contrasting textures.

3. Contrast helps

Color photos with tons of high contrast are often unpleasant to look at. The opposite occurs for black and white photos, where high contrast can create staggering differences between blacks and whites and give the photo extra dimension. You can also bump up the contrast in your photo through the editing process if you're not happy with the original image's contrast.

4. Photograph patterns

Items with patterns are great subjects for black and white photos. Color is an extra dimension in a photo of a pattern, and it often distracts the human eye from fully processing the beautiful symmetry of the pattern. In black and white, patterns tend to be extremely eye-catching and dramatic.

5. Go for gloomy days

Of course it's possible to take good black and white photos on sunny days, but the best days for black and white photography are often gloomy, gray days when the light is flat or soft. This is the opposite of color photography, which often benefits from bright sunlight.

Interested in photography classes? Find a program that’s right for you!

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The Ideal Client: How and Why to Create Personas

written by Georgia Schumacher 9 October 2014

If you want to launch a career in a creative field such as web design, fashion design, or video game development, you should understand the vital role of personas. Personas, which should be used throughout the creative and development process, are in-depth profiles of potential clients. Those make-believe individuals will represent precisely the kinds of customers that you're trying to reach.

By creating personas, you help yourself and your colleagues to analyze andunderstand your customers, audience, or users. Once you’ve built personas, all of your decisions should rely on these imaginary people and what would—or would not—resonate with them or move them to action. Ask yourself about their wants, their needs, and their goals. Think about their prior knowledge and background and how that will influence the way they interact with what you create.

Be aware, however, that you should only rely on three or four personas for one project or campaign; have more than that and it starts to get confusing. Therefore, those personas you select must accurately represent your largest groups of potential customers. Of course, you won't be able to capture every potential user in those personas; the key is to cover as many as you can.

How to create a persona

To create effective personas, you'll first have to do some investigating. That is, you must learn about the backgrounds and needs of the people who are most likely to seek your services. This kind of inquiry is called market research.

Step 1: Market research

There are several ways in which to conduct market research. For starters, you can interview past and current customers over the phone or in person, and you can direct them to online surveys. To ensure that enough people complete such interrogations, you could offer them discounts in exchange for participating. You may also be able to conduct research about those who purchase products from your closest competitors. You could even contact trade associations, major industry publications, and even friends who are in the same business as you; ask them to send you some of the customer data that they've collected over time. Even if you don’t have customers yet, you can create personas based on information you find about your target customers or the people most likely to purchase your product or service.

Step 2: Find patterns

Once your market research is complete, it's time to turn those statistics into personas. To get started, identify recurring patterns in the customer information that you've gathered in order to settle on three or four archetypes. For example, if teachers and women between the ages of 50 and 60 are among the people who appear the most often, one of your personas could describe a female, 55-year-old high school teacher. 

Step 3: Templatize

Your next step is to create a template for your personas so that they'll have a uniform layout. It's wise to search the Internet for personas and to study as many as you can; borrow the elements that most appeal to you. Your final product should be clean, attractive, and easy to read; you’ll probably be sharing this document a lot! Each entry should also include a photo of the person's face: You can purchase the rights to stock photos, or include of friends and family members.

Step 4: Fill in the details

When it comes to the text of a persona, provide the person's first name next to the photo. Below the name, supply information in several categories. The first grouping should be a demographic outline, which might include:

- age
- ethnicity
- place of residence
- educational history
- marital status
- any other relevant factors

Other categories could be employment details, technical knowledge, and relevant interests. Finally, set up a section that describes what the person would need and expect from you and your business. Note that you should use short phrases and bullet points to present these facts, rather than complete sentences.

Step 5: Distribute your personas

Once, you’ve assembled personas, make sure to share them with other designers, your stakeholders, manager, and anyone else on the project team. Remember, your persona will help you focus on your audience and ensure that your design is functional and relevant for your customers—making you more likely to succeed!

5 Places to Find Creative Inspiration

written by Georgia Schumacher 7 October 2014

When asked about his creative process, author Kurt Vonnegut advised that, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.

Luckily, creativity never demands perfection. Instead, your success at a creative arts school and in your creative career relies heavily on bravery and the ability to color outside of the lines. Yet sometimes, creative thought can start to flounder amid expectations of the tried and true. When you need a creative boost, try these 5 things to resuscitate your imagination and lead you toward your most inspired creations.

Fall nature scene

1. Nature

There's a reason people talk about the importance of "getting back to nature." The simplicity of the living world lies in stark opposition to fast-paced city life and 9-to-5 stuffiness. Fresh air, chirping birds, and rustling leaves serve as more than just a scenic backdrop — they summon primal instincts that take humans back to their roots, which can help resolve common barriers like overthinking and nitpicking.

2. Art

Artist Marc Chagall once said, "Great art picks up where nature ends." Whether through art galleries, showings, museums, or books, studying other artists' interpretations of the world around them is an ideal way to awaken your own inner curiosity and creativity. Trying new mediums can also help you and learning new techniques in your art school classes can also provide wonderful ways of connecting to untapped ideas.

3. Silence

Silence is known to be golden, but it's a state too many people avoid. Sitting in solitude without the distractions of conversation and television is a powerful experience that lends itself to deep thinking. With only your mind to guide you, your inner thoughts will surface without outside influences. Getting comfortable with silence through meditation or simple bouts of quiet time summons the creative energy that's often overshadowed by everyday noise.

4. Music

Music

Aldous Huxley stated, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Whether it's the melody or lyrics that move you, listening to music allows you to connect to the medium while simultaneously looking inward. The reflective ability of music is both powerfully inspiring and unifying. When coupled with other artistic endeavors like drawing or writing, its creative impact is readily achieved.

5. Journals

Many people who swear by journaling note its ability to get to the bottom of what's really inside your heart and mind. If you feel stuck or confused in your creative process, allowing yourself to write freely is a wonderful way to unlock inner feelings that can shed light on issues you didn't consciously know were affecting your work. As author Christina Baldwin says, "Journal writing is a voyage to the interior," and we think it's a voyage worth taking—during art school and beyond—for its creative merits.

Sign up for our upcoming graphic design webinar!

written by Georgia Schumacher 24 September 2014

calendar

Mike Massengale & Garry McKee, senior full-time faculty members in graphic design at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, present “Skills Graphic Designers Should Learn,” to be held Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 6pm ET. All enrolled students are invited to attend!

About the webinar

Topics that will be covered include:

• The importance of learning to draw
• Learning the art of the pitch
• Learning the importance of teamwork

During the event, students can volunteer to speak. If you would like to speak, you can virtually raise your hand and wait to be called upon. In addition, you can submit your comments through the comments module in the webinar. Some of these comments will be read aloud during the session.

Register

If you're a current student, register for the virtual event at https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/125189783. Space is limited.

Meet the presenters

Mike Massengale
MikeArtist Mike Massengale is best known for his liquid vibrations style. Mike often uses music to drive the emotion of his signature style—warm, emotionally evocative images that are dreamy and tranquil yet alive with intense colors. Massengale’s mediums cover the gamut—from oil and pastel to digital painting. He is always studying new techniques that lend themselves to his style and his work has resonated with audiences and buyers throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Mike resides in South Carolina with his wife and twin children (son and daughter), where he illustrates and teaches full-time at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. Massengale holds an AA in Commercial Art from Anderson College, a BS in Commercial Fine Arts from Appalachian State University, an MA in Illustration from Syracuse University, and a MFA in Illustration from University of Hartford School of Art. During the past 30 years he has worked in commercial art in a number of capacities including graphic artist, illustrator, animator, art director, and creative director.

Garry McKee
GaryGarry McKee earned his MFA from Georgia Southern University. Just after graduating in 2000, he began teaching full time as a member of the Graphic Design Department at The Art Institute of Atlanta, where he remained until 2005. In January 2005, he moved from being a full-time faculty member at The Art Institute of Atlanta to being a full-time faculty member with The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division.

During that time, he has remained active as a freelance print/web designer and illustrator with clients ranging from Tyco Electronics, to Marvel Comics, to a wide variety of local and regional organizations. You can find his work at www.theseersucker.net or view videos and tutorials on his Youtube channel: theseersucker. His Google+ and Twitter handle is theseersucker as well. As he explains, he “apparently has an odd fascination with the fabric.”

To find and register for more student events, check out the Events Calendar in the Campus Common today!