Old School – October 2014

An update on my progress toward my degree –

A few years ago, I started attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online to get a bachelor’s degree in Web Design and Interactive Media. I’m doing it part time, one class at a time, so it’s slow going, but I’ve been at it steady for a long time now. I’m finally in my 4th year classes, and I think I have about a year left to go. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and am really looking forward to hanging that diploma on my office wall.

I’ve really been moved toward the eLearning part of the program. In my past career, I had done a good bit of software training, teaching clients how to use Adobe Photoshop and After Effects in the sign business, so this seems like a natural fit for me. I picked up Adobe Captivate, and have been digging into that, and am very impressed by what it can do. The capabilities in Instructional Design are just tremendous compared to a decade ago. This would have saved my employer a fortune on travel and overtime expenses. It also allows someone to learn at their own pace, rather than forcing them to do a multiple-day marathon, which pushes them far beyond their saturation point. To be able to take a break, and come back for a little more the next day is really nice.

I’ve also done a good bit of Javascript and Jquery work. I’ve had a lot of fun working with that, and been very impressed by what I can do so easily with a few well-placed widgets. My coding skills have leapt forward by a long shot.

A few months ago, I had a portfolio class, and built an entire new site for myself. I’ve redone it several times since then, and will probably keep redoing it every few months. It contains links to a lot of my recent Instructional and Web design pieces, as well as a lot of my graphic art.

My current class, Advanced Communications, is very helpful. It mainly deals with how to speak and write in a professional environment, for interviews, reviews, etc.

So, that’s where I am in the effort to improve my education. See you at the top!

Mid-life Crisis

I’ve been thinking a lot about my artistic career lately, and what I’m going to focus on next.

The comic book thing has never really taken off for me.  I’m good at it, but after all these years, I’m not getting any offers to draw or ink anything, and my own projects haven’t been able to get past the first few pages in the last decade.  I learned a lot from all my work in comics, but I’ve come to the realization that I’m never going to be more than a hobbyist in the field, and maybe I should devote my efforts to trying to become better at something I have a better chance at succeeding in.  I’m sure a lot of my art will continue to be influenced by comics, though.  It’s a part of who I am.

I’ve gone back to school, and am working on a BA in web design and interactive media.  I’ve been building web pages for more than 13 years, and the progress this art form has made since I started has been staggering. There are a lot of new tricks that I need to learn, and I’ve been working on the list.

So, I’m primarily going to be focusing my attention on becoming a better web designer.  I’ll be posting a lot more notes and blogs coming up as I re-design my own site and put the things I’ve learned into practice.

Back to School – Week 1

I’ve finished up my first week of school at Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online, and got everything turned in.  So far, it’s been pretty easy, but next week I start my first project.  It’s a basic Computer Literacy class to start out with, but the format for research, discussion, and interaction with other students is pretty cool.  Books are mostly in digital format, so I save some money there, and I’ve gotten the Adobe CS5 Suite and Microsoft Office 2010 as part of my class materials.

CS5 has some real advances over my previous version of Photoshop, CS3.  I was surprised by hiw much they’ve added.  And for productivity, Office 2010 is pretty amazing.  I’ve been using Google Docs for a while now, and didn’t think I needed Office, but seeing the tools in Outlook and OneNote have me thinking in new ways.  Very powerful stuff!

Week one went down smoothly, and didn’t stress me out at all in addition to working full time.  So far, I’m enjoying it and feeling like I’m doing something worthwhile, so I’m feeling very good about it.

Old School

I’m finally starting something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long, long time.  Beginning in January, I’m going back to school to get a degree.  I should have done this years ago, but I always had reasons not to do it – I’m too old, I can’t afford it, I don’t have the time, etc.  I broke through all that last month, and I’m enrolled and have all my classes lined up.  It’s an online version of the school, so I can do it evenings and weekends around my full-time job.  Everything else is just the same as the traditional college program.

I’m going for a Bachelor’s Degree in Interactive Media from the Art Institute of Pittsburg, which is a fancy way of describing web design.  I’ve dabbled in the web for as long as there’s been a web.  I’ve done some neat things with Dreamweaver and Flash.  I think I’m a bit beyond a beginner, but there’s a lot I don’t know how to do yet.

I still want to do comic books, but I think the future of the genre is going to be on the web, and that’s where I want to develop my specialty.  Learning to work with databases, and be able to offer content to customers is something I think is worth doing.  I have a pretty specific agenda, and I see no drawback in getting an education in this field beyond the cost.

Heading back to school at this age is a bit intimidating.  I’m starting the program at age 46, so I’ll probably be over 50 by the time I finish.  I could easily have another thirty years of my career ahead of me, so it’s better late than never.  This kind of field didn’t even exist the last time I went to school, back in the 80s.  Computers were around, but not used for art, so the stuff I learned before – stat cameras, lazy lucys, zip-a-tone, rubylith, typesetting, etc – all that’s long since out of date.

I’m excited about learning some new things and getting into doing some of the class projects.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress and what the experience is like!