How to Grow Your Freelance Business

written by Georgia Schumacher 23 March 2014

Fashion Design Freelancer

For many of us, there's nothing we want more than to be our own boss. Whether you are a photographer, animator, or designer, or you run a one-person culinary or retail store, growing your freelance business is the key to successfully working for yourself and earning a living doing what you love.

You may be talented in your craft and passionate about what you do, but it takes more than that to establish and grow your freelance business. Here are some tips to help you improve your freelance business:

Develop Your Natural Talent

Creative skills are like a plant. Unless properly cared for and provided with nourishment, both will begin to wilt. By continuing to improve your skills and develop your career, you will strengthen your work, build credibility, and improve your self esteem. You could:

Find an art school where you can take classes online or at a local campus
• Attend seminars, conferences, or events in your field
• Submit your work to peer-reviewed shows or publications

Increase Your Rates

It sounds silly, but increasing your freelance rates will show potential clients that your work is high-quality and you deserve to be compensated accordingly. Many freelancers assume that they have to settle for low payments because of the vast number of freelancers available to interested parties. But just because there is someone out there who will paint a portrait for five dollars, doesn't mean all consumers want a portrait worth five dollars. Setting high, yet reasonable, prices for your work will attract customers looking for high-quality work from a trusted freelancer.

Promote Your Brand

Many people turn to online resources before making a purchase of goods or services. When they come looking, will your business be there? Make sure your business has a modern, fast and easy-to-navigate website that is in tune with your brand's visual and written messages. Be sure to include the following on your website:

• Samples of your work
• Contact information (phone, email, social media)
• Testimonials from happy clients
• List of services offered
• Any art school you've attended or any relevant degrees

You can also promote your brand and build positive relationships with your customers via social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram provide a personal connection with potential clients and can help them view you as a familiar, trusted business.

Network with Fellow Artists

Just because you are working for yourself doesn't mean you have to figure everything out by yourself. Join a group of freelancers online or in your area for support, ideas, and possible collaborations. Attend events at local art galleries or art schools. If you're an art school graduate, get in touch with other alumni. By networking with others in your field, you could even learn valuable information that could help your freelance business grow!

Exploring the Fundamentals of Educational Game Design

written by Georgia Schumacher 13 March 2014

Game Design ImageCreating a successful educational game or educational software requires technical skills, creativity, and the ability to effectively utilize the latest technology. Educational games must be both easy to use and engaging, while also providing a meaningful learning experience. Studies have shown that educational games can promote critical thinking and problem solving in players, and high-quality game design is the key to achieving those results.

Technology at Your Fingertips

Computer and mobile technology has advanced greatly in recent years, drawing more attention in game design schools and allowing for more options than ever in the world of game development. Most people are already immersed in the latest computer and mobile technology, using it for work or to connect with friends and family, and can easily adapt to using that same technology to gain knowledge and entertainment from educational games.

Keep these tips in mind to make technology work in your favor:

• Know your audience and which platforms/devices they are using.

• Take all possible technological devices into account when designing your educational game. If your game isn't available on an individual's device, you are missing a chance to make a positive impact.

• Utilize new advances, but avoid jumping on trends that have little or no effect on the overall user experience.

• Consider incorporating location-based technology to give the game ties to the user’s actual surroundings.

Combining Education and Entertainment

One of the biggest challenges in educational game development is creating a game that will keep users interested and motivated while still achieving the learning objectives. Although you can learn many more tactics at a game design school, here are a few ways to ensure your educational game is both fun and beneficial:

• Identify what situations and problems will challenge and engage users and keep that in the forefront of your game.

• Consider incorporating the ability to interact, collaborate, learn from or compete with other users, but make sure to provide a purpose—whether motivational, educational or something else—for that social interaction.

• Outline clear goals within the gameplay for users to keep them motivated to work toward that goal. Be sure to give them regular feedback as well as positive reinforcement when that goal is achieved.

Narrative Flow

Educational games are often open-ended and lack a strict linear narrative flow, encouraging exploration, problem-solving and critical thinking. Although there is no rigid path, effective educational game design still gives the user a narrative flow that will draw them in and follow the expected paths of conflict resolution that our brains are trained to recognize. Users will then be able to focus on the game and reap the full educational benefits.

Interested in game design and development? Consider attending a school for game design and see what degree programs are available.

Read More

How to Design an Educational Game
Game Design: The Key to Education
Feedback Loops in Games and Learning
Creating Flow, Motivation, & Fun in Learning Games

6 Reasons to RSVP for an Art Institute Portfolio Show

written by Georgia Schumacher 11 March 2014

Now, graduating students at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division can display art at any of our portfolio shows across the country! This is a great opportunity for all current and graduating students to meet employers, browse peer work, and much more. This year, we have over 40 locations for you to choose from, so find the location closest to you and RSVP today.

1. Get noticed by potential employers. Employers will be attending each portfolio show searching for up-and-coming individuals like you, and this could be the place where you truly kick off your creative career. Don’t miss this chance to highlight your work and everything you have to offer!

2. Share what you’re passionate about. Since you joined The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, you’ve done so much. You’ve put a lot of time, effort, and creative energy into your work. Why not show off what you’ve created as an art school student? You’ve got a lot to be proud of!

3. Celebrate your accomplishments with your family and friends. Are you displaying your portfolio? Invite your friends and family to your show to demonstrate how you’ve been putting your creative talents and skills to work. Show them what their constant support has helped you to create.

4. Discover how your art school peers have been spending their time. See work from across our design, media arts, fashion, and culinary arts programs. Some of your peers’ work may even be available for your touching, tasting, or listening pleasure. Be prepared to engage most—if not all—of your senses at our portfolio shows!

5. Inspire those who are considering attending an art school. By following your passion, you’re setting an example for those who will come after you. Sharing your artwork and your creativity could help to inspire the next generation of creative professionals.

6. Experience the future of creative arts. Even if you aren’t graduating yet, attending a portfolio show can not only inspire your creativity but can also give you a sense of the direction your industry is heading. Meet the future designers, artists and culinary experts who will make their mark in the years to come!

Want to attend? RSVP today at

Are you an upcoming or recent grad and would like to show your portfolio? Contact your Career Services Advisor for more information!

Your Feedback Matters: Take the Priorities Survey for Online Learners Today

written by Georgia Schumacher 7 March 2014

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division, our faculty and staff work every day to support our students’ academic success. As a vital part of our community, your opinions and feedback are critical for allowing us to continue improving our support and your experience as a student.

Watch the Video!

Watch the video to learn more!

To gather your opinions, we launched the annual Priorities Survey for Online Learners (PSOL) in the Campus Common on February 24, 2014. This survey will remain open until March 24, 2014, and is designed to measure your satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.

Your feedback will be used to better shape and enhance the online experience for our students. As an outcome of past surveys, we’ve implemented many changes, including the following:

• Increased clarity on assignment rubrics for classroom discussions
• Expanded the availability of tutoring and academic support
• Improved timeliness of faculty feedback and student interactions
• Launched a mobile website and app for easier on-the-go access

We appreciate your time in enabling us to improve the quality of your own educational experience as well as the experience of the many students who will come after you! To take your survey, access the Campus Common and click the yellow “Complete your survey today” button directly above the My Classes Dashboard. Your feedback will be completely anonymous.

Thank you again for helping us to serve you better!

Women Who Changed the World of Fashion Design

written by Georgia Schumacher 4 March 2014

Women in Fashion Design

March is Women's History Month, and that calls for a piece on influential women who changed fashion design. Take a look at four of the great fashion designers and businesswomen who blazed new paths in the industry with their unique, fresh, and exciting views on style and elegance.

Coco Chanel

With the most recognizable name in French fashion design and possibly the entire world, Coco Chanel transformed clothing and style forever. In many senses, she freed women from the uncomfortable fashion trends of the early 20th century. Her influential, classic creations included pieces like trousers and suits for women, as well as the little black dress. Even suntanning became a style trend influenced by her own stunning outfits paired with a tanned complexion she gained accidentally while on vacation. Her branded perfume, Chanel No.5, is perhaps the most coveted fragrance in the world.

Vera Wang

Vera Wang's influence as a business owner and American fashion designer comes in her ability to cross generations and cultures. When she couldn't find a suitable wedding dress, she decided to build her own. From there, the Vera Wang brand took off. Best known for her haute couture bridesmaid dresses and wedding gowns, Vera Wang has also expanded her clothing line to include women's wear and fragrances. She often experiments with more daring designs, including a black wedding dress. Her retail products touch a wide range of ages, classes, and cultures, helping her to earn a spot as a legend within the industry.

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood is often called the "Goddess of Punk" in the fashion design industry. Her insistence on freedom of expression and her unique style have made her vastly important to the field. In 1971, the doors to her first store, Let It Rock, flung open and her brand has never looked back. She has done everything from dressed the Sex Pistols to started a menswear clothing line in Florence. Her clothing perfectly meshes the cutting edge with tradition - an area in which few others have enjoyed such widespread success.

Miuccia Prada

The Queen of Handbags, Miuccia Prada has an impressive story that made her all the more influential in the fashion world. This former member of the Italian Communist Party assumed control of her father's luggage company in 1978 and quickly breathed life into the dying brand with energetic creations. Prada's determination to make things completely her own enabled her to become a distinguished figure in fashion design. Leading with her will and confidence, she possesses a style and innovative flair that helped her and her products gain worldwide recognition, adoration, and respect. The brand produces fashion products that are a dynamic and trendsetting blend of femininity, aesthetics, and originality.

Interested in a career in fashion design? Learn how to get started here!