Learning on The Go

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I’m primarily a fine artist, and the materials that I work in have largely not changed for centuries.  When I look at my husband, who works in design and animation, I see him spending hours pouring over manuals, online tutorials, etc. to figure out the latest updates to software that he already has a lot of expertise in. The process is incredibly time consuming and is ongoing, you can count on Photoshop and Premiere continually evolving in the years to come! Makes me grateful that copper plates for intaglio printmaking are essentially the same materials as when Rembrandt was producing etchings centuries ago.

A few years back I was talking to one of my students at RISD who had just come from a department meeting with faculty and students. In a town hall style, the meeting focused on the department curriculum so that students could address parts of the curriculum that they felt were lacking. One of the primary concerns the students voiced was that they did not feel they were getting enough instruction in several specific software programs, which had them worried that they would enter the professional world unprepared with those skills.

While I agree that there is a basic understanding of the primary software programs that can and should be taught at an art school, I also know that our world is changing fast enough that to a certain degree, there are programs that are fruitless to teach at an art school. Within just a few years, that program can change so dramatically that it’s nearly unrecognizable, or something else will come along that is much better.

My husband and I laugh at the software he was taught in the RISD FAV department in the 1990’s and how totally irrelevant all of that content is today: Amigas he used to work on, the stacks of zip disks he carried around everywhere to store content, and Metacrawler. (a search engine that was around before Google!)

Nowhere has this been more prominent than in my work on Artprof.org. I had to literally learn everything on the go.  I couldn’t even take a tripod apart without knocking something else over at the same time, (ask my husband, who still gets irritated when I touch or hold a tripod the wrong way) and I had never so much as even opened Premiere or Audition.

Although the process was really hard for me, my husband likes to remind me that 20 years ago, the same quality of content that we produce on Artprof.org would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and not been possible with the lean production staff (myself and him) we have.

Video editing and sound design was in such a totally different universe that to be honest, prior to Art Prof, I could never understand why anyone would want to shut themselves in an editing room for hours on end. Now, I look at raw video footage and I practically salivate thinking about the creative possibilities.  I have days where I have to rip myself away from my laptop while editing video.

When we decided to switch over from Instagram live streams to live critique streams on YouTube, I did all of the research to figure out how to make it happen:  I watched video tutorials, read instructions and forums online, Googled tons of phrases, etc. so I could figure out how to use OBS studio in order to custom design a system for our live critiques.

A few days later, there I was, typing up step-by-step instructions for how to set up to do a live critique on YouTube for my staff, tailored in such a way to suit our specific needs. Goes to show that unlike art school which ends after 4 years, learning never stops.


Artprof.org is a free website for learning visual arts which features video tutorials, art critiques, and more.

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