Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dennis Ryan - Communication Art studies from Millersville University

After graduating from PSA&D I transferred all my credits to Millersville University, Millersville, PA to get my bachelors in the arts. PSA&D is now called PCA&D as they became accredited and shifted from a 3-year degree program to a college (a year or two after I graduated - argh).

My advice - from my experience - is NOT to transfer from one school to another or switch majors unless absolutely necessary. Because by the time I graduated from MU I had between 150-160 total credits. It took me about 7 years, part-time on and off, but I stuck with it. So I should have my masters by credit amount alone - but only have a bachelors. **Shrug** The experience, other than not having another degree to go on my degree wall, was not a loss by far. The many credits and 'major' switch has helped to develop me in to the well rounded, diverse-minded individual that I am. Don't get me wrong, it would be great to have an MFA, and may do it down the road.

I originally enrolled in MU for its well known art education program. Mostly did this knowing that there is not a big job market for the fine arts in Lancaster County - and need to eat and have a place to sleep. A few semesters into the art ed. program I got a chance to student teach; then consequently started to look at a new majors.
Maybe it was:
  1. the school I taught at, Wheatland in Lancaster City, a bit too urban for my country-dwelling tastes
  2. or just the fact that I was teaching Science as a subject to middle schoolers (remember... artist here people!)
  3. or the public school system's premix remedies of 'no child left behind' and 'inclusion' were too initially stark for me and seemed to be failing miserably.
In any case, at that very point, I found it not to be my calling.

Meanwhile... back at Millersville I took an interest, minor so-to-say, in psychology & philosophy. These two fields of study had always interested me, never got exposed to them at PSA&D, and if I had to build 60 credits to get the MU stamp on my degree then I would do it while studying subjects that would enhance concepts that I was painting about already.

Ok then, out of art ed., so what could I major in that would be a good career and keep my creative edge sharp to keep momentum going on my fine art interests?

Enter — communication arts!

I can tell you right now that one of the first things I learned about my artistic tastes upon entering this program was how very little I enjoyed graphic design. Mostly I blame my dislike on my struggles to dumb down my concepts in the hopes of creating a simplified logo or good coupon magazine ad. And I'd say that graphic design is one of the furthest forms of artistic expression away from the fine arts. Basically graphic design is just layout, copying off other successful layouts (folks, it's all been done before) and moving objects around a page (oh yeah, that's layout too). Graphic design is a major part of communication arts though.

So speed bump in my art career road again...

...but, for some reason there were other classes in the comm. arts program that I rather enjoyed. They were any classes that dealt with web design, web development, Flash, actionscript & search engine optimization (actually a couple of those I taught myself for lack of curriculum opportunities). And lucky me because those job areas pay well too! I think my interest in these forms of multimedia design have something to do with the analytical and numerical/math challenges (e.g. actionscript programing & web development) associated with them.

At MU, I had a couple of great influences on how I communicate commercially through art. Jeri Robinson-Lawrence, Art Chair, Professor and all around fantastic human being, really had a sincere interest in students succeeding and put in a great effort. Paul Manlove was just starting to teach at the time I was graduating, but had a fantastic teaching style that went far above and beyond what I expected. Another great influence/experience was a Seymour Chwast 3-day visit, show and lecture. He also spent a couple hours critiquing our individual poster artwork (a rare opportunity by most measures). Seymour Chwast is a celebrated graphic artist and co-founder of Push Pin Studios.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Social Media Marketing for Fine Artists

Market your fine art via the Internet with social networking websites, blogs & other social media

There has never been a better time than the present to market yourself as a fine artist. Today's technology combined with the Internet offers unparalleled opportunities for you to harness and have your fine art seen by millions of viewers every day! With tons of networking options and sales tools at your finger tips, now is the time to get out there and have your talents noticed.

As a fine artist, you probably are an introvert, slightly on the neurotic side, and overall, a bit of an existentialist to begin with. But being a fine artist chances are you also have great, substantial ideas and important things to say to the world. Well, it is your turn to be heard!

In today's very populated society there are thousands of other fine artists waiting to be heard also. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania area alone churns out 100(s) of artists a year from the 4-5 art schools and universities in its surrounding area. I would guesstimate that within central PA and Philadelphia there are 1000(s) of fine artists to compete with. And the fact is, there are not enough jobs and galleries to sustain this abundant supply... so you do the math.

So you are left with choices like: changing career fields just out of school (while you are probably still paying your student loans); making your fine art a thing on the side while working in retail or another non-ideal field; or getting smart and creative about how you market yourself while sticking with your chosen path as an artist. The final choice wins here!

So today I'd like to discuss the newest craze in networking yourself - it is called social media. It is a bit of an evolution from web 2.0 (with a bit more of the personal factor thrown in). AKA social networking, social media encompasses everything from blogs (like this one), to personal pages that are easy to add pictures, videos and other media to, to websites specifically for networking, sharing ideas and keeping in touch with your many contacts.

I've done a good bit of research on social media as it is a natural extension of successful SEO - search engine optimization. I have consulted several organizations in the central Pennsylvania area on SEO techniques. Chances are my search skills are what brought you here today.

The foremost option of social networking is blogging. I highly recommend The fact that Google acquired this pioneering blogger platform was the no-brainer stamp of approval that I needed to choose where to invest my time and thoughts. Let's face it, Google is the king of search, the Internet and soon to come... most of your information.

After you start blogging, then there are several more ways to reinforce your social media start. There are easily 20-30 popular social media websites today. Here is a list of social networking websites that I recommend you utilize to help market your fine art:
Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.
Delicious is a social bookmarking service that allows users to tag, save, manage and share web pages from a centralized source. With emphasis on the power of the community, Delicious greatly improves how people discover, remember and share on the Internet.
Flickr - almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.
Share knowledge and tap into relationships. Connect the people in your professional network with LinkedIn.
StumbleUpon discovers web sites based on your interests. Whether it's a web page, photo or video, our personalized recommendation engine learns what you like, and brings you more.
Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users.
Jaiku's main goal is to bring people closer together by enabling them to share their activity streams.
kirtsy is the place to find and/or link to anything and everything on the Web that you'd like to share.
Connect to your family, friends, and business network. We make it easy to find who you know.
Submit a link » to anything interesting: news article, blog entry, video, picture...
Called Tumblelogs - Tumblr is a simple microblog platform. A place to aggregate your thoughts, images and videos. And you can import your stuff from other social media sites like twitter and flickr.

Every day more social networking sites spring up. These are the ones that I have found to work nicely together. YouTube, of course, would be the place to be with your videos. Myspace, in my opinion, is growing a bit out of favor and has a too much of a collective, overall messy look-and-feel for what I'm shooting for.

Good luck to you as you go forward with your fine art social media plan and I'm sure to see you on page 1 soon!