6 compelling online art courses

Art Radar profiles 6 online art courses offered in the English language.

The education industry is expanding its variety of distance learning courses that implement an array of technological innovations. Art Radar looks into some of the most successful and popular English-language art courses available online. 

Photo by Sage Ross. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Photo: Sage Ross. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Below is a cross-section of institutes offering online degree programmes as well as individual courses for those interested in simply jumping into the arts or in continuing their education. The six courses featured reflect a range in prices, style, location and accreditation.

Academy of Art University on New Montgomery Street (San Francisco, USA). Photo by Caroline Culler. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Academy of Art University on New Montgomery Street (San Francisco, USA). Photo by Caroline Culler. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

1. Academy of Art University San Francisco | San Francisco, USA

The Academy of Art University, based in San Francisco, California, has been one of the leading arts institutions in the United States since its founding in 1929. In 2002, the University began offering a series of online courses, including full- and part-time classes in painting, drawing, fashion, game programming, graphic design, jewelry and metal arts, web design and more. The University offers a mixture of degree courses (bachelor’s and master’s degrees) and individual courses for those simply looking to curate their own art-learning experience.

Students may study at their own pace through a series of modules. Special technologies allow professors to mark students’ work directly to provide detailed feedback. For those looking for further commentary, students may enter into class discussion forums where peers and tutors may post work and share ideas virtually.

2. London Art College | London, UK

The London Art College is one of the oldest arts correspondence courses in the country, established over 80 years ago in 1931. The institution offers a number of individual courses in a variety of media, including photography, digital illustration, landscape drawing, oil painting, children’s book illustration and even courses in Chinese brush painting, science-fiction and fantasy as well as history classes on 20th- and 21st-century art. All of London Art College’s courses are accredited by BSI and the Association of British Correspondence College.

Courses are geared to students of all ages and abilities with course work offered in digital and print formats. Students can purchase courses and begin at their leisure. The cost of courses at the London Art College is more affordable than many of the others on this list: a three-month beginner’s Drawing I course costs USD263, while the most expensive course, which offers a one-year diploma in graphic design, costs USD521.

Chelsea College of Art and Design, a constituent of the University of Arts London (London, UK). Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Chelsea College of Art and Design, a constituent of the University of the Arts London (London, UK). Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

3. University of the Arts London (UAL) | London, UK

The University of the Arts London (UAL) is the largest art and design university in Europe, which boasts six constituent colleges located across the greater London area. It offers a variety of online courses and degrees in graphic design, fashion, textiles, photography, portfolio preparation and more.

Unlike most of the other institutions listed here, UAL’s online courses have scheduled enrollment periods due to the structure of their lessons. A mixture of live, interactive lectures and self-study sessions, UAL courses excel in face-to-face feedback and peer-to-peer discussions that mimic the feel of a real classroom. Much like a traditional classroom setting, students join up to seven other students in a virtual classroom where they can directly speak to the tutor and one another during a lecture. If students miss a class, however, all lectures are archived online for later access. Courses last approximately eight weeks and cost an average of USD797.

4. Open College for the Arts (OCA) | Barnsley, UK

Founded in 1987 as an open learning independent arts college, OCA provides a mixture of individual classes and accredited online degrees in photography, textiles, painting, visual communication, drawing, film, graphic design, printmaking, sculpture and more, including an award-winning master of arts degree. The college features no fixed enrollment dates and flexible payment plans. Courses offer one-on-one student-teacher interaction and cost a minimum of USD1,832.

A sample of Vitruvian Studio courses. Image courtesy the author.

A sample of Vitruvian Studio courses. Image courtesy Rachel Chamberlain.

5. Vitruvian Studio | Chicago, USA

Vitruvian Studio, based in Chicago, Illinois, is one of the newer arts institutes on this list. Established in 2006, Vitruvian is dedicated to employing the latest technologies to help students learn a variety of fine art techniques. Students may speak one-on-one with their tutors, who have the ability to screen-cast a variety of photos, texts, diagrams and videos live to their students, helping to create personalised, interactive teaching sessions. This institution boasts great reviews and low prices. A 26-lesson ‘Portrait Drawing’ class costs USD125, while a 62-lesson ‘Drawing Basics’ class, boasting over 22 hours of video content, costs USD200.

6. University of Lethbridge ‘Art Now Online’ courses | Alberta, Canada

The University of Lethbridge, located in Alberta, Canada, offers a two-part series as two courses for individuals not registered with the University. Unlike many of the other courses featured on this list, the two ‘Art Now Online’ courses are comprised of a series of recorded presentations by guest speakers, including artists, art historians, critics, cultural theorists, curators and filmmakers from around the world. Previous speakers include representatives to the Venice Biennale, Turner Prize nominees, Sobey Art Award winners, curators, museum directors and major arts editors.

Both courses are geared towards students and adults interested in learning about contemporary ideas, trends, methods and practices in the art world. As part of each course, students are expected to watch the recorded presentations, complete supplemental readings provided online and write short essays pertaining to the topics discussed in the guests’ lectures. The cost of the course is USD399.

Rachel Chamberlain


Related topics: art and the internet, art education, courses, institutes, listsopportunities

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