Monday, November 23, 2009

First Year Students Advising

What electives are good for students taking your major and why are they valuable?

First off, there is no such thing as a bad elective. With that said, I encourage students to take electives that not only compliment your major, but might be of different subject matter. In this instance, for illustration majors, I highly recommend taking as many design electives as you can.

Speaking from professional experience, incorporating design into your illustration will make you, as a young artist, useful to a business. Keyword: useful. Businesses of all sizes have marketing needs, and the more you make yourself useful, the more you will be able to provide them with creative solutions to their problems. Designing logos, websites, animations, brochures, posters, videos, e-newsletters, package design, etc. gives you opportunities to not only service your client and help them with their needs, but you get to embed and apply your own artistic talents and perspective into everything you do.

Of course, right now, most of you don't know how to be useful, that's why you're at school. I will list out four courses that you can take as electives that will wake you up and inspire that entrepreneurial side of you that you didn't know existed.

I personally teach a few courses that give you those kind of projects that you can realistically do during and after college as a young artist.

ILL365: Digital Illustration
This course covers the Adobe Creative Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. These three programs will help and assist you to illustrate and design almost any job out there.

Projects include digital painting and coloring line art, t-shirt design for (we all love those t-shirts, now let's do one of them), and finally, designing and illustrating a COMPLETE brand campaign for a new music album (album artwork, cd case design, posters, t-shirts, stickers, etc.). We also do weekly blog assignments, giving you creative room to explore new aspects of the digital programs, and to get you in the habit of always thinking creatively and making artwork on a daily, if not, weekly basis.

A huge foundation piece that you will learn in this course is that computer programs are only tools, and they will only help you composite your original idea on the screen. Nothing replaces the human touch; your thought process, your drawing, your painting, and your perspective. I'd rather have you create artwork traditionally, scan it into the computer, and composite it with other traditional elements, giving you a hybrid design of traditional artwork. It's better than clicking the "watercolor" filter on Photoshop (oh god the horror! don't do that, it looks awful). Computers can't create watercolors, ink splatters, paint textures, or scratched metal textures for you (or other cool design elements you can incorporate into your digital artwork), you need to find and create those elements yourself with traditional means (drawing, painting, photography, screen printing, printmaking, etc.).

Every business needs a marketing kit, whether you're promoting a festival, concert, or a new product (a music album in this case). By learning how to spread your artwork on multiple marketing items in a consistent and recognizable fashion, all of a sudden you make yourself useful to any business out there, small/medium/or large.

In this class, you'll be able to funnel all of your traditional skills into something new and exciting while utilizing the Adobe Creative Suite.

IST263: Intro to Web Design
Speaking of marketing needs, more often than not, a website is the most in-demand marketing component for businesses today. Take this class and you will learn how websites work. You will also learn how to make your own website. This class covers alot of HTML/CSS coding, as well as Search Engine Optimization, Javascript, and Content Management Systems. Don't avoid learning how to create websites. Some people tell themeselves "I'll learn it when I have time." Believe me, you won't have time. Take it head on and immerse yourself in the code and start figuring out how things on the internet work. I've turned people with no coding experience into people who can't get enough of it. It's a cool feeling when you learn how to code something you see all the time on the internet (i.e. dropdown menus). "wow, that's how that works?" Ok, that sounds geeky, but when you get into it more, you'll see what I'm talking about.

IST500: Photoshop for Web Design
This class is a perfect course to take after IST263. This course will teach you how to properly design a website in Adobe Photoshop. Professional websites are first designed in Photoshop. Then after client approval, they are sliced apart into tiny images, and then they are assembled and embedded into your framework built in HTML/CSS (which you'll learn in IST263). After taking this course, you'll never look at the Photoshop Layers palette the same. You will learn how to organize and utilize your layers like never before.

Taking these two courses helps you learn both the design and programming side of the web design spectrum. You will be able to design websites for small businesses anywhere around the world.

ILL400.2: Flash for Illustrators
Continuing on the trend of making yourself useful to a business, a lot of websites utilize Flash. If you enjoy doing some HTML/CSS code in your web design class, you might enjoy taking it to the next level with learning basic Actionscript 3.0. It's a more advanced form of code that helps create user interaction on advanced websites. Not only will this course provide you with a strong foundation in AS3, we will also cover animation basics, exporting animations into video and Adobe After Effects, and we will create some interactive website elements (like an interactive map with information embedded into it), things that you might come across at, as well as many other popular informational sites. It will be a fun mix. It's a cool feeling bringing your traditional artwork to life with animation using Flash.

All of these courses mentioned will teach and show you how to become useful to someone, specifically businesses with marketing needs. You will not go very far in life until you make yourself useful. Learning how to illustrate is just the start, but you shouldn't stop there. There's future concert events that need your artwork, albums that need your artwork, websites that need your artistic taste, or logos that need something extra besides fancy typography. This is where you, as a future artist/designer, will come into play. Open up your eyes and pay attention. There's artwork every where, embedded into many different places, places you never knew existed.

And if this doesn't wake you up, watch this alarming video.

I believe I answered all three questions into one hybrid response. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate in contacting me.
Jeff Passetti

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