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Happy Leap Day!

29 February 2012

It comes around once every four years, and now it’s here – Leap Day 2012! You know that the day exists, but do you know why? The origins of the day go all the way back to ancient Rome. It actually takes the Earth 365.25 days to revolve around the sun, so in order to coordinate dates with astronomy and the passing seasons, Julius Caesar ordered that an extra day be added to the calendar every four years at the end of February.

So, there you have it, Leap Day.

It may seem like this extra day doesn’t really do anything special for you. Life continues to go on, and deadlines in your classes continue to stand. But with 2012 having 366 days instead of 365, there are, at the very least, opportunities to reflect. Maybe you can use this day to tackle projects that had otherwise fallen by the wayside. This is particularly useful if you have a specific To Do List for the month of February.

And what if you were born on this day? How do you celebrate it? Obviously, you’re still a year older as each year passes, even if your birthday is absent from the calendar. Maybe this is your chance to throw a huge birthday bash, or do something daring that you might not otherwise. However you choose to celebrate it—or not—we wish you a very happy Leap Day!


A Look at the Future of Video Game Design

27 February 2012

Welcome to part 4 in our series looking at the future of some of the occupational fields related to our program at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. Today we’re going to take a look at some trends in outlooks in the field of Video Game Art & Design.

The video game industry is a rapidly growing one, with “spending on video game hardware and games in 2011 was expected to exceed $74 billion, up from $67 billion on games in 2010,” according to report issued by Gartner, the technology research company, and covered in the New York Times. Furthermore, Gartner says that the industry is expected to continue to grow, “with game-related spending reaching $112 billion by 2015.”

What does this growth mean for the future of the game design profession? As you can imagine, many experts think opportunities will only continue to grow along with the industry. According to the Entertainment Software Association:

“A recent study, "Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2010 Report," detailed the impact that computer and video game companies have on America's economy. The report stated:

  • From 2005 to 2010, the entertainment software industry's revenue more than doubled. Over the same period, the entire U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) only grew by about 16%.
  • The entertainment software industry added nearly $5 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2009.

The U.S. entertainment software industry also continues to function as a vital source of employment. Currently, video game companies directly and indirectly employ more than 120,000 people in 34 states.”

As we look into the future, what part of the video game industry is expected to dominate the future? According to Gartner, look to mobile:

“But the fastest growth is likely to come in mobile gaming, said Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner and co-author of the report, in an e-mail interview. He predicted that the sales and use of hand-held gaming consoles, including those made by Sony or Nintendo, would slow as young gamers opted for a smartphone or tablet instead of a dedicated gaming device.”

The video game industry doesn’t seem to be slowing down, might it be a field that you’re interested in? To learn more, visit our Game Art & Design degree page, read more from the Entertainment Software Association, or read the full article we referenced earlier in the New York Times.

A Look at the Future of Graphic Design

23 February 2012

Welcome to part 3 in our series looking at the future of some of the occupational fields related to our programs at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. Today we’re going to take a look at some trends in outlooks in the field of Graphic Design.

There are few professions that touch so many areas as Graphic Design. Just look around you right now – it’s likely that something around you has been influenced by a graphic designer – from the page you’re reading this on, to the menu on the table at your local coffee shop.

As pervasive as Graphic Design is, it doesn’t mean that it is not being constantly transformed by technology. As the media world (advertising, publishing, entertainment, etc.) moves increasingly from print to electronic based mediums, the world of the Graphic Designer will certainly follow suit.

As far as the job market, many expect that this technological shift will actually create more opportunities for Graphic Designers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

"Employment of graphic designers is expected to grow 13 percent, as fast as the average for all occupations from 2008 to 2018, as demand for graphic design continues to increase from advertisers and computer design firms.

"Moreover, graphic designers with Web site design and animation experience will especially be needed as demand increases for design projects for interactive media—Web sites, mobile phones, and other technology. Demand for graphic designers also will increase as advertising firms create print and Web marketing and promotional materials for a growing number of products and services. Growth in Internet advertising, in particular, is expected to increase the number of designers. However, growth may be tempered by reduced demand in the print publishing, where many graphic designers are employed."

But what about the role of the Graphic Designer in the organizations of the future? Will their role within organizations change along with the changing face of technology? Roger Martin, the dean of the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, argues in an article published by AIGA, the professional association for design, that “designers, by their nature, can bring solutions to light that escape others”:

“I think in a knowledge intensive world where advancing knowledge is the key to value creation and the key to competitive advantage to organizations, this capacity of design thinking is absolutely critical to having organizations overcome the biggest block they have, which is a dependence on analytical thinking and a fear of intuitive thinking. It's the thing in-between.”

With these facts and thoughts in mind, the future of Graphic Design certainly seems like it’s going to be an interesting and exciting one. Would you like to learn more? You might want visit the AIGA website, the Bureau of Labor Statistics or explore one of the Graphic Design programs offered at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division.

Stay tuned for part 4 of our series, a look at the future of Media and Game Art Design.

A Look at the Future of Photography

21 February 2012

Welcome to part 2 in our series looking at the future of some of the occupational fields related to our program at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. Today we’re going to take a look at some trends in outlooks in the field of Photography.

As anyone who has been paying attention can tell you, the world of Photography has undergone tremendous changes over the last several years. With the advent of digital photography and improving technologies, photographers face a very different landscape than they did 10 or 20 years ago.

Photography Programs

These changes have obviously affected the career outlook for the professional photographer. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics put it in their outlook:

"Employment of photographers is expected to grow 12 percent over the 2008-18 period, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for portrait photographers should increase as the population grows. Moreover, growth of Internet versions of magazines, journals, and newspapers will require increasing numbers of commercial photographers to provide digital images. The Internet and improved data management programs also should make it easier for freelancers to market directly to their customers, increasing opportunities for self-employment and decreasing reliance on stock photo agencies.

"Job growth, however, will be constrained somewhat by the widespread use of digital photography and the falling price of digital equipment. Improvements in digital technology reduce barriers of entry into this profession and allow more individual consumers and businesses to produce, store, and access photographic images on their own."

With these changes to the industry, what are some of the best practices for the aspiring photographer? As with any career where there is expected to be a lot of competition, being dedicated to excellence in your field is a best practice that should always be regarded. You can hear it directly from two of the most successful photographers working today as they discuss their advice for the future, Chase Jarvis and Albert Watson.

Also, if you’re interested in how the technology of the camera has changed over the years and what may lie ahead, this examination of the past and future of cameras may be of interest to you.

For more information on the photography industry, you may want to consult the Professional Photographers Association of America, or explore the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ full page on the career outlook for Photography.

Stay tuned for part 3 of our series, a look at the future of graphic design.

The Future of Advertising and Marketing

17 February 2012

Welcome to the first installment in our blog series taking a look at the future of some the occupational fields you’ll find here at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division. Today, we’re going to be looking at some trends and career outlooks in Advertising.

Perhaps more than any other form of media, Advertising is being transformed by the Internet, social media and mobile technology.

As technology has evolved, the world of the “Mad Men” of the advertising industry has almost completely disappeared. Whereas advertising used to be a one-way communication with brands sending messages to their audience, today it is a two-way communication. The internet and its related technologies now allow for unprecedented conversation between brands and their customers.

As Danielle Sacks put it in a lengthy article about the future of advertising in Fast Company magazine:

“Thanks to the Internet and digital technology, agencies are finding that the realization of their clients' ultimate fantasy -- the ability to customize a specific message to a specific person at a specific moment -- is within their grasp. It is also one very complex nightmare. After all, digital isn't just one channel. It's a medium that blooms thousands of other mediums.”

You can hear similar themes echoed in this interview with Ad tycoon Miles Nadal -- founder and CEO of MDC Partners, one of the largest advertising holding companies in the world."

So, what does this mean for students looking to pursue a career in advertising? Well, first, what is the market supposed to be like? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

“Employment is projected to grow about as fast as average. As with most managerial jobs, keen competition is expected for these highly coveted positions.

"Overall employment of advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers is expected to increase by 13 percent through 2018. Job growth will be spurred by competition for a growing number of goods and services, both foreign and domestic, and the need to make one’s product or service stand out in the crowd.”

So, it’s going to be a competitive marketplace, what can a graduate do to stand out? According to the Advertising Educational Foundation:

“With all the competition for jobs in advertising, you must develop your own "unique selling proposition" to communicate your own unique qualities. It's not enough that you are interested in advertising or that you made the dean's list eight times or that you wrote for the school newspaper. So did most of your competition. You have to connect what you've done in the past, in a unique way, to what you will do for the agency in the future. Developing a strategy gets your commitment, imagination, and analytical thinking out in the limelight. It is key to making you stand out from other candidates.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the future of advertising – for more information, here are links to the full articles mentioned above:

Introverts in Society Today

13 February 2012

In today's society, extroverts are often looked upon as superior to introverts. Describing someone as “outgoing” carries a positive connotation, while characterizing someone as “shy” or “quiet” is akin them possessing a serious character flaw. Time magazine recently examined the phenomenon of the introvert in the article “Don’t Call Introverted Children ‘Shy’.”

In the article, writer Susan Cain looks at the introvert objectively, ultimately concluding that like extroversion, introversion is a personality trait, not a flaw. She notes that introverts are not antisocial, but rather “differently social.” They are less likely to cheat than extroverts, and are more likely to be described as empathetic or conscientious.

The point of the article is not to position the introvert as superior, but rather to point out that such an individual is every bit the extrovert’s equal.

According to Cain, the ideal situation is one in which introverts and extroverts work together to achieve a common goal. She cites the partnership of extroverted Steve Jobs and introverted Steve Wozniak as an example of when this worked well.

The article demonstrates the need for us to move away from prescribing standardized versions of “normal.” Recognizing that there are many personalities that make the world go ‘round can only work to our benefit. It can help to encourage creativity and new ideas, both of which are needed to move our society forward.

Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

9 February 2012

There's no getting around it. The days are shorter this time of the year, and also colder. In many parts of the country, the snow is flying outside, causing traffic hazards and inspiring us to curl up with a blanket and some hot cocoa on the couch.

But surely we can’t spend the next few months in this position, as tempting as it may seem. Other animals like bears hibernate in the summer months, but we, as humans, must press on and continue with our everyday lives.

For The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division student, that means keeping up with your studies.

So how can you use these frigid winter months to your advantage, without developing a serious case of cabin fever in the process? Check out these tips.

  • Get Plenty of Rest. While you can’t exactly follow the bear’s example and sleep until the first day of spring, you’ll find that getting enough sleep – perhaps more than what you needed when it was warmer outside – will make you more productive as an individual. Now, before you start protesting with excuses like, “but I could use that time when I’m sleeping to finish my homework assignments,” consider how much more productive you’ll be when it’s time to do your schoolwork if you have a good night’s rest.
  • Go Outside. Maybe this is the last thing you want to do right now, but think back to when you were a kid, anxiously waiting to find out whether or not today would be a Snow Day. You’d spend hours outside with your siblings and friends building snow forts and snowmen. You’re an adult now, but that’s no reason you can’t have a little fun. If you have kids, get out and enjoy the snow with them. If you don’t, consider taking up a winter sport like cross country skiing. Exercise and fun are just as important in winter as they are at any other time, perhaps even more so!
  • Enjoy a Change of Scenery. If your normal workspace is becoming a little stale, consider changing it. Can you bring your laptop to a nearby coffee shop or restaurant? Perhaps you can get together with a friend and find a new place to study together. You may find that camping out in a public place to complete your work can be inspiring. People watching is always a fun activity, and may provide you with inspiration for your next assignment.

While winter can seem like the most arduous, intolerable time of year for many, with a bit of planning and creativity, you can be every bit as productive as you are at any other time of the year.


Eta Sigma Chapter of Kappi Pi Celebrates its Second Year

6 February 2012

The Eta Sigma Chapter of Kappa Pi at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division is celebrating its second full year with the fraternity. The Eta Sigma branch of Kappa Pi fraternity offers members not only recognition, but the opportunity to create meaningful professional and artistic relationships in the virtual world. The chapter members come from across the United States and work in a broad range of artistic fields such as Graphic Art, Media Arts and Animation, Interior Design, Game Design, as well as the Fine Arts.

The virtual nature of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division makes everything Eta Sigma does somewhat unique. Most communication is done via a social networking interface exclusively for The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division called Connections. It functions a lot like Facebook to help students to socialize, network, and become involved in a virtual community. Kappa Pi Coordinator and Assistant Director of Student Affairs, Aileen Dillon, created and helps manage the Kappa Pi page Connections, which serves as a forum for interchange among members. Non-members can view certain portions of the Kappa Pi page to learn about the organization and apply.

Faculty sponsors Alison Holmes and Christina Kotoske are very proud to announce that they inducted 35 new members on April 4, 2011, and 25 new members on December 7, 2011. Both ceremonies were held virtually using a combination of Adobe Connect and telephone. The new inductees represent some of the finest students and artists working at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division.

Eta Sigma is still young, but its members are already making a big impression. This year, professional Graphic Designer, Illustrator and Eta Sigma member Arden von Haegar was featured in the July 2011 edition of Nashville Arts Magazine. Closer to home, members Alicia Burgess and Nicole Millay both received an Honorable Mention in Kappa Pi’s 2011 scholarship contest this past summer.

The Eta Sigma chapter is happy to embark upon another exciting and productive year with Kappa Pi in 2012!


Celebrate Your Faculty at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

2 February 2012

As a student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, you’re exposed to faculty members with a variety of interesting backgrounds, and, when you think back on it, there may be one or two that stand out in your mind. Now you have the chance to write about them for this blog!

Submit your blog post via our student submission website. In your blog, be sure to tell us:

  • Why does this faculty member stand out in your mind?
  • In which class did you encounter them?
  • How have they helped enrich your online learning experience?

There’s no time limit on these submissions, so whether you encountered the faculty member a year ago or are in session with them 6 months from now and come across this blog post, feel free to share your thoughts with us.