Adventures in Education — Prologue



The point and purpose of this series is to share my thoughts and experiences during my time with the Art Instruction Schools. I did ponny-up the money and worked through the AIS’s Fundamentals of Art program. As error-riden as they are, I original started posting about my experiences over on and then my FaceBook account to share with my friends. I wasn’t always consistent or as detailed in my posts. But you’ll get the point. Also the nice thing is I’ll get a bit of a refresher out of this. 

As a graduate, if you want art school training and lack the funds, I highly encourage you to sign up at AIS. Financially speaking, they were extremely flexible when it came to tuition. It’s a surprisingly good course, but I did expect the instructors to be a lot harsher than they were in their correspondences. Sometimes I wondered if they were being too nice or if their letters were standard copy. In the subsequent chapters, I’ll wonder about the skill level of my fellow students, whom I received zero contact with, which makes this a lonely path to tread. To get a rough ideal, check out AIS’s FaceBook page. This course also requires a great deal of self-discipline because even though the school gives ideal due dates, this is a self-paced course. So unlike normal art schools, there were no hard-deadlines, which can be a be a bad thing for some students, and inspire a great deal of procrastination.

I also want to make readers aware this is not an advertisement for the Art Instruction Schools in anyway. I am receiving nothing from them.  I’m just providing useful information as a service to potential students. Worst case scenario, I’ll end up with a cease and desist order from AIS for exposing too much information on their lessons and violating their copyrights. (That probably most likely won’t happen…) I will try to be straight forward and thoughtful in all of my posts. I’ll attempt to give a summary of each lesson, and post my progress during the roughly three years with scans of activities and assignment, as well as assessments from my teacher(s). This originally appeared as a post I made over on, and the error are aplenty.

I was desiring to attend an art school with a quality illustration program that could help improve my drawing and painting skills, as well as provide me with the solid foundation that I lacked. I have found a few schools that could be right up my alley, which includes SCAD in Atlanta, which I’ve visited. But I had ran into the following road blocks: money, surviving in another state without any help, cost of living, and being in over my head in debt due to student loans. (As you can tell, money or lack thereof is the common factor.) The economy (in 2008) was also a factor in my decision making. When I was visiting Atlanta, I was watching news reports on the city’s sky-rocketing un-employment. I had a job here in Texas and the market here is not as bad as it is in other states. Would I have had a job in Georgia, Florida, etc? These issues had pretty much narrowed me down to only distance learning programs.

I’ve known about the Art Instruction Schools off and on for a few years, but I’d never really taken them seriously. I’d seen their print ads, website, and television commercial. About a month or two ago (around October  2009), I applied for a scholarship via AIS’s “Draw Me” contest on their website and received an entry form. My thinking at the time was, “If I receive a big enough scholarship, I’ll give it a shot.” (See the following post from my sketchbook: clic aqui)
BTW, over three years later, I still don’t know how I did in that contest…

A few days later, I received a call from the school’s (Texas) recruiter who wanted to interview me the next day or the day after (saturday). I picked saturday so I could have some time to gathered up some references and sketches for the interview. He came to the house and gave an exhaustive introduction (one I’m sure that the poor bastard has given a thousand times over), as well as going through all of Lesson 1. (I didn’t need to bother reading the workbook afterwards.) The recruiter also mentioned that the school provides all of the materials the student need. (This was for the most part unnecessary for me since I have most everything an artist needs except for a light-box and a hot model to pose for me.) If I happen to need a pencil, brush, etc, just give the school a call and I’ll receive it in the mail. I never did test this, but the school did supply me with almost everything I needed. I say almost because AIS sent me a crummy Steadtler marker that bleed like hell on their paper. I also want to note that if I never had my own supplies before signing up for the course, I would of had plenty left over.

He also showcased the artwork of numerous artists including Charles Shultz (who should need no introduction) as well as a Disney comics favorite, Floyd Gottfredson. A lot of the stuff I saw was really impressive. He also showed me a copy of the school’s magazine Illustrator, dedicated to showcasing student artwork. The recruiter viewed my sketches and told me that he wasn’t expecting to see anything particularly good or on my level.

After officially accepting me, he spoke about tuition. For those interested, the total tuition came down to $3,485.00 at the time. (less then one semester at the Art School of Fort Lauderdale, which was approximately $7,000+ when I first inquired and growing) I agreed to pay $130 on a monthly basis. If I were to have had any issues, I should call the school and either arrange to have my payments lowered (yet extended over a longer period of time) or ask to put everything on hold until I’m able to work everything out or decide to quit. At the interview I cut him my first check for $130.

Then the formalities came along, like filling out paper work, etc. The recruiter gave me my first package consisting of my first two lessons (workbooks), folders to protect my assignments whenever I sent them to the school, envelopes (one postage paid), a pair of Staedtler HB (no. 2) and 2B pencils, a worthless (in my opinion, but I’m picky) tiny plastic T-square, a copy of Illustrator, Orientation Handbook, and a Glossary & Resource book. Roughly a week or two later I received a box consisting of a congratulatory letter, an enrollment certificate, a Student ID card good for discounts (I don’t know where. The school told me to just try it somewhere), and a sketchbook.

About the Art Instruction schools:
The Art Instruction Schools is an art school offering a home study program, the Fundamentals of Art. The program’s goal is to develop student’s skills from the ground up and includes all popular art techniques. The school has been around since 1914, and was founded in Minneapolis, MN by the Bureau of Engraving, Inc to train illustrators for a growing printing industry in the Midwest. The school is accredited by the DETC (Distance Education and Training Council), an accrediting agency of the U.S. Department of Education. The program also has the backing of the American Council on Education (ACE), allowing for the transfer of up to 24 college credit to over 3,000 schools in the U.S. (This is based on grades and proficiency show in student’s portfolio…) All of the instructors at the Art Instruction Schools are college educated and have varying degrees.

I guess I’ve covered all of the basics and gave a proper introduction. If anyone thinks I’ve missed anything in this first post or has any questions, please feel free to post me. I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.

Next time: The Gridding Fun with Lesson 1! or Divide Me a Picture in Seven Days!