Need a little help in your math class? Join MATHLIVE!

written by Georgia Schumacher 18 September 2014

Math problemThe Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division prides itself on the student support provided by our staff and faculty alike. Our admissions representatives, academic counselors, students finance counselors, librarians, and tutors are always there to lend a helping hand. Our newest addition to our extensive academic support offering includes our new MATH1010 webinar series MATH LIVE!, held twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays.

Each MATH LIVE! webinar is a 60-minute informal study session with a full-time math faculty member. In these weekly sessions, you can ask math questions, enrich your grasp on the class material and gain useful assignment guidance. By attending a MATHLIVE!, you can receive 5 bonus points, with the possibility to earn a maximum of 10 points toward your total points for the course.

Come prepared with specific questions, such as “Can you show me how to factor “x^2+5x+4?”, so that you make the most of your time in the session. All questions are welcome but more general questions (such “I don’t understand quadratic equations. Can you help me?”) are difficult to answer in a short period of time.

How to Register

Sessions are open on Monday evenings at 7:30 PM ET and on Thursday mornings at 11:00AM ET. If you’re interested in attending, register here to reserve your webinar seat. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with information needed to join the webinar.

For more upcoming events, visit our Events calendar in the Campus Common.

6 Photography Projects to Try This Weekend

written by Georgia Schumacher 20 August 2014

Ah, the upcoming weekend -- a time to relax, unwind, and indulge in extracurricular pursuits. For those of you in photography classes (or if you’re just a photography enthusiast), the weekend presents an excellent opportunity to hone those camera skills with some creative photography projects. Here are 6 unique projects to take on this weekend with your camera.

1. Street candid

Carnivals, fairs, and general outdoor activities all provide ample opportunities to snap candid photographs of people in interesting environments. Candid shots are not only unexpected and intriguing, but they also allow the photographer to experiment with creativity, composition, and themes.

Tip: Acclaimed photojournalist Robert Capa said, "If your photos aren't good enough, then you're not close enough." Don't be afraid to get close to your subjects.

2. Abandoned building

Abdandoned building photo At the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes the absence of humans can enhance a photograph. Abandoned buildings make excellent settings for times when you want to capture a spooky or mysterious mood.

Tip: A flashlight makes an excellent accessory for both navigating throughout the building and adding lighting effects. A wide-angle lens is also helpful for capturing larger rooms in their entirety.

3. Silhouette shot

Silhouette photography is a simple, yet stunning way to capture a scene. With this method, the subject of the shot is underexposed to the point of appearing black against a lit background. While silhouettes are often associated with human subjects, don't hesitate to capture flowers, buildings, or animals with this technique.

Tip: Dress your model in sheer clothing for an experiment in textural layers, and make sure to get the exposure right to enhance the silhouette.

Leaves - Macro

4. Macro shot

A macro shot involves taking a detailed, close-up image of an object, such as an insect, flower, or circuitry. Generally, you'll want to get within a foot of your subject to capture its intricacies.

Tip: Make sure to use a lens that's equipped for macro focus. Most digital cameras have macro modes built in, while professional cameras require a separate macro lens.

5. Light writing

Another innovative way to play with lighting is light writing, which involves capturing moving light against a darker background. Use a long exposure and either a self-timer or remote shutter if you're working alone. Move a singular-point light source (such as a laser pointer, flashlight, sparkler, or glow stick) through the space to write words, make a halo, or outline a silhouette.

Tip: Your background doesn't have to be completely black, and it can often help to make the photograph more intricate. Use your creativity to incorporate the background into the overall content of the picture.

6. Astrophotography

Nothing is more beautiful than the night sky, but a heavy concentration of city lights blocks stars from view. In order to photograph the stars, seek out a location with as little light pollution as possible. A long exposure with a fast lens will help to capture the image, and, considering that the planet is constantly moving, a wider field of view is helpful for beginners.

Tip: Follow the "Rule of 600," which says that in order to avoid blurry star trails, you can calculate your exposure time in seconds by dividing 600 by the focal length of the lens used.

Interested in photography? Find out what you could learn and what photography classes you could take as a student in one of our programs!

An Interview with Artist Brian McCall, part 2 of 2

written by Editor Georgia Schumacher 14 August 2014

Interview conducted by Mary Clare (MC)
Graphic Design Faculty Member
Published as part of the Artist Interview Series

Brian McCall (BM) is an artist who uses a variety of media to tell his stories. See part 1 of this interview here.

Artwork: The Band

Tim Gruber 3

Herd of Philosophers, detail image

MC: What role does the artist have in society?
BM: This portends the question of the meaning of life. The one aspect of being an artist that I cherish is 'I get to make things' that have never been seen before. Ernest Becker says the artist makes an object and throws it into the abyss and hopes it makes a difference. That's all we have, the hope that it makes a difference. We make things.

Art, Titled: The Snake in Any Story

MC: Did you ever have an idea that you rendered in one medium that you would like to redo in another? Why?
BM: Decisions have to be made, failures happen all the time, so you begin again. Sometimes you pick up a different tool and begin the process again.

MC: How would you describe your creative process, and approach to creating/designing?
BM: Regurgitation. Look at what comes up and see if there's anything new and spewed on the paper. Keep an open mind to your limitations; smile and jump back into the process.

MC: What has been your creative inspiration with type and other areas?
BM: There's a lot of comic artist in me. I enjoy balloons and words popping out. I'm a great admirer of the modern comic and the layout of a dynamic page.

MC: What have been your artistic influences?
BM: Marisio Lazansky's 'Nazi Drawings

MC: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
BM: Keep track of every pitch. Try to discern the pattern of the catcher and pitcher and how they're pitching to you.

MC: Who or what is your muse?
BM: Keith Jarret and his Sun Bear Concerts

MC: What new type of projects do you have in the works?
BM: The importance of being no one, size makes no difference says Masters and Johnson, and animation.

MC: Describe yourself in three words.
BM: Self reflectively blind

MC: What advice would you give a student studying art and design?
BM: Don't please anyone else, please yourself. Just be honest and hold yourself to the highest standard.

View more of Brian’s work at http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianmccall/.

5 Simple Ways Your Site Can Be More User-Friendly

written by Georgia Schumacher 6 August 2014

Nowadays, how your website looks and performs is every bit as important as what it actually says. If your site is easy to navigate, with text that's easy to read and sharp images that load quickly, visitors are much more likely to hang around and partake in whatever it is you offer -- whether it be your art school portfolio, your resume, or a blog for your photography class. Keep reading for ideas on how to make your site as user-friendly as possible.

1. Keep it short and simple

Today's Internet users have an attention span that's one second shorter than that of your average goldfish (no joke!). If you want to get and keep their attention, you're going to have to keep your content short and sweet. There's still room for personality -- just keep in mind that the shorter the text on a given webpage, the more likely it is that somebody will actually read it.

2. Break it up

Internet users love content that's easy to scan -- so ditch the long, continuous blocks of text in favor of short paragraphs, with headings, subheadings and bullet or numbered lists to make the page scannable. Use white space on the page to set off key elements.

3. Keep it speedy

Multimedia is tops -- unless it slows your website's load time so much that your visitors get bored and click away. Remember: shorter attention span than a goldfish. Minimize your multimedia to maximize its impact -- try choosing and showcasing only the best of the best. Once you've selected your showpieces, compress the image and video files for faster loading.

4. Update regularly

Nothing sinks a user experience faster than broken links or out-of-date content. Check your site for broken links at least once a month (more if some links prove problematic), update your FAQs, and refresh seasonal or time-sensitive content in a timely manner.

5. Be mobile-friendly

A site that looks great on a desktop computer might be impossible to read or navigate on a smartphone or tablet. Optimizing your website for both mobile and desktop use is a sure way to drive more traffic your way, and keep the visitors happy once they're there.

There's no denying that an eye for art and design can help you design an attractive, user-friendly webpage (and attending art school can help you improve that already existing talent)-- but if you're stumped for ideas, all you really have to do is log out of your admin panel and browse the site as if you've never seen it before. Ask yourself the questions a first-time user might ask. If the answers aren't readily (and obviously) accessible, you've found a great place to start improving the overall user experience.

How to Choose the Right Typography for Your Next Project

written by Georgia Schumacher 18 July 2014

Typography

Choosing fonts for a project can be an overwhelming task if you don't know what look you're going for. Typography is just as important as a logo, so choose one that echoes your brand's personality. Here are some tips on how to choose the right font for your next project.

Define your style

Are you creating content for fashion, technology, or children? Your style will greatly depend on the subject matter of your content. For instance, if you're doing graphic design for a hip fashion marketing company, you may want to go with something bold and modern.

Choose professional fonts

There are many free resources for fonts on the web. It's very easy to download a few and make choices from there. However, only a few resources offer well-made fonts that are fit for professional use. Some sites that feature high-quality fonts are Fontsquirrel and Myfonts. You can also check out Google's Webfonts and Typekit for fonts intended for web-based projects.

Get opinions

Choose two fonts you are considering to use and create samples using both. Print them out and show them to friends, colleagues and anyone else whose opinion matters to you and ask which one they think looks best. Make sure you provide some basic information of the project you're using them for. Sometimes getting second, third and fourth opinions on a certain design can give you more insight and help you make a final decision.

Research

Look around for similar projects that have great exposure. Billboards, magazine ads and posters are great things to observe when gauging the appropriateness of certain typographical styles. Sticking with the fashion marketing example, find out what type of font what other fashion companies are using. What gets your attention? What fonts make sense when used with similar content?

Use licensed fonts

You may not be aware of it, but certain fonts are protected by copyright. Whether you plan to use a font for personal or commercial use, be sure that you are doing so without infringing on the creator's work. While some fonts may be free to use for personal use, there may be some restrictions on where and how they can be used professionally. To get more details, check out The Law on Fonts and Typefaces from Crowdspring.

Most importantly, choosing a font for your project is a personal journey. The typography you select should make a connection with you, your vision, and what you want to tell the world. While these tips can get you started, only you can decide where your font-hunting quest ends and your project begins.