What Are The Top Art Schools?

Rankings are always tricky. Rating the top art schools depends on the criteria of the one or ones doing the judging and possibly whether or not they have some sort of connection or vested interest in placing certain schools where they place them. Cronyism aside and imagining a perfect world of total objectivity, a one-size-fits-all rating system would only work in a world where artists are determined ahead of time in a test tube and everyone is a homogenous clone. But then you have to wonder if art and creative expression would even really exist in such a utopian society.

So, back to the present day reality, a single specific answer to the question, "What are the top art schools?" generally does a disservice to the needs of the individual student. As with stereo components, it depends entirely on priority and application. The top school for music and performing arts will likely not be the top school for commercial and visual arts. Even within a single category, the "best" art school will still depend on the needs and priorities of the student.

There are a number of organizations and publications willing to give it a shot, though, and their conclusions can be easily found on the Internet. However, it is best to consider these ratings simply a starting point, as they can be quite misleading. Remember that higher education is funded primarily by the students who attend said facilities. No students, no school. No school, no over-paid faculty incapable of working in the real world. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?) And that, that certainly does not apply to all art school faculty members.

The first thing you need to determine is what you plan to do with an art education. There are many and varied career choices. The art career or occupation you want will be one of the most important deciding factors in your own personal ranking system.

For instance, if you're already working in the art field of your choice (or close to it) and all you need is a piece of paper, then you can probably get what you need from a local community college or state university. Depending on the state, that may be a less expensive way to get that piece of paper than going to a dedicated art school.

If, on the other hand, you're gunning for a particular possibly prestigious position in a well-known art gallery, it would serve you well to work backwards. Find out what they consider the top art schools and which of those they most often hire graduates from. In other words, which art school degree will get your resume to the top of the stack?

Your choice may also come down to economics. What can you afford; what kind of financial aid is available; and what are you chances of a reasonable pay off?

In the end, you are the judge. You will have to determine what the top art schools are for you and make the best choice for you. After all, individuality is the very pulse of art.

Web Template Or Web Designer – What is the Best Way to Create Your Website?

Whilst choosing a perfect website template to project the right image for your business could be a lot quicker and cheaper than hiring the services and skills of a web designer, it may not be the best way to create your online presence. So if you want a professional online presence generated quickly and cheaply, downloading a website template could be the right option for you.

Whilst this may be true not all templates are equal – some are designed and structured really well and look professional while others are downright nasty. But surely with all the website templates available online there must be some that are perfect for my requirements I hear you say.

That is probably true but, as mentioned above, not all web templates are the same in terms of quality or as easy to work with. In fact while some are free, some guide you step by step through the process of editing and uploading the template files and others require a certain amount of web design competency to edit and manage them.

So what is the best solution for creating your online presence? Well the list below illustrates some of the pros and cons of hiring the services and skills of a professional web designer or to use a web template.

Website Template or Web Designer?

  • Cost You will be able to find and download a great, well designed website at a reasonably small cost while the services of a professional web designer will come at a significant cost.
  • Timing Once you have located a suitable template online, you will be able to download it immediately, edit it and insert the content you want and upload it – you could have your online presence created the same day. However having a designer design your site could be a fairly long process with progress meetings and follow up meetings.
  • Customizing While most templates can be edited and customized to reflect your corporate image and so on, some of them could require a certain amount of html and web design competency. Having a web designer build your site would mean that all customizing of your site would be taken care of.

So there you have it. With all the information above you should be able to decide wherever your online presence will require the coding and graphics expertise of a web designer or will it be just as good and effective with a well designed template.

Beautiful Wall Decor Wedding Gifts

When you are looking for the perfect wedding gift, you want a present that will be cherished, used and remembered forever. A wedding gift that can hang on the wall is an ideal gift in all three respects. Choosing a wall décor wedding gift can be tricky, though, unless you take the couple’s personal tastes and sense of design into account when choosing. Here are some helpful hints to make sure that you select a beautiful wall décor wedding gift that will be truly appreciated and loved.

Consider the Style of the Bride and Groom’s Home

When choosing wall décor it is important to remember that this gift is meant to be on display in the bride and groom’s new home. Take stock of the design choices that the couple has made in their personal living spaces and avoid choosing a kitschy wall item if the bride has built her living room around clean, modern Danish lines. Instead, pick a simple design such as a stretched canvas printed with their initials or names in muted colors. For a contemporary living or family room design, consider choosing a wall print or canvas with a sleek, black frame and a colorful, personalized print. If the couple’s taste runs more to the curves of Art Deco, consider opting for a framed design inspired by the elongated curves and almost-abstract art of the Roaring Twenties.

In general, traditional and country styles will be complemented best by personalized prints and art canvases framed in warm or light wood. More modern designs look best with unadorned black or metal frames, or with unframed canvases. Country samplers are ideal for Colonial style living rooms and dens, especially if the print includes calico or adorable animals.

Consider the Personal Taste of the Bride and Groom

If there is a particular motif that is near and dear to the hearts of the bride and groom, you stand a pretty good chance of choosing a gift that they will love if you keep their personal preferences in mind while shopping. Try choosing prints or plaques in their favorite colors and materials, or printed with motifs that hold personal meaning to them. Don’t offer them a floral wall plaque if their tastes run to minimalist modern paintings, and avoid choosing an abstract wall print if they have a country themed kitchen adorned with cute teddy bears. Consider, too, that there are many more kinds of wall decor than just framed prints. Some of the other wall décor wedding gifts that you might consider are wall plaques made of metal, wood or molded resin, and wood plaques carved with the word “love” and the couple’s wedding details, both of which can easily fit into many different décor styles.

Hand painted slate tiles can also be an ideal choice for a rustic or Colonial kitchen, den or family room, and you can even choose one that is painted with traditional wedding icons or ones with more natural scenes.

Another popular wall décor is a stretched art canvas. It is easy to find stunning stretched art canvas designs that make beautiful wedding gifts. Whether you choose a painted Impressionist scene with a pair of love-bird swans or a country rustic saying bordered in twigs and flowers, there are many lovely canvases that can be personalized to make your gift even more extraordinary.

To really stand out, you can always go with a personalized pewter or copper tray wedding present, engraved with the wedding date and names, or a 3-D resin plaque or clock engraved with the wedding couple’s special day details.

Photo Frames

Photo frames are personalized gifts that are always appreciated. When choosing a photo frame, try to keep in mind the general rules of wall décor, choose photo frames and mats that fit with the general décor of the home and do not be afraid to be whimsical or personal. A classic black glass frame is a perfect accent for a modern or contemporary living room, especially when you add the personal touch of a special engraved message. Silver filigree frames are ideal for wedding photos, and wood frames can fit into any style of décor.

If wall hangings seem a bit personal, you might consider a hanging for the outside of their home. A “welcome” slate or plaque personalized with the couple’s married name can make a wonderful gift for the newly married pair.

Whatever gift you choose, personalization is a key part in ensuring that your wedding gift will be special and heartfelt. Think carefully about exactly what to print in the two or three lines you are given. A favored choice is the couple’s names and wedding details, but you might opt to use a personally applicable quote or wedding wish instead. Whichever personalized present you go with, it is sure to be loved and appreciated for years to come.

Does Your Website Follow “The Iron Law of Marketing?”

Many websites unwittingly ignore ‘The Iron Law’ of Marketing. They begin by explaining features about the company, e.g. how long they’ve been in business, what their premises look like, etc. The truth is that most visitors to your website couldn’t give a hoot about the features of your company! What they primarily care about is WIIFM.

WIIFM stands for ‘What’s In It For Me’. It’s ‘The Iron Law of Marketing’. Unless visitors to your website can quickly see what your business can do for them, the chances are that they’ll be gone quickly, typically in seconds. Once they’re gone, they’re gone – probably never to return.

WIIFM – ‘What’s in it for me’. Are we really so self-centred? Well, yes, I’m afraid that we are. Please don’t feel guilty – it’s just the way we’re hard-wired. Sure, farther down the line, we care about others. But, first and foremost, we’re concerned about how we survive and thrive. That’s simple evolutionary common sense.

If you want your visitor to stay on your website, you need to heed ‘The Iron Law of Marketing’. You need to give your visitors WIIFM – ‘What’s in it for me’. But the paradox is this: the ‘me’ shouldn’t be you (i.e. your premises, etc). It should be them – your visitors.

You need to put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and address what they’re interested in, what they might want, how you may be able to help them.

Most companies are concerned to get ‘targeted traffic’ (i.e. potential clients to their sites) through SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and other clever stuff. And this is important – very important indeed.

But if most of your prospective clients leave your website in a few seconds, isn’t that just a little bit silly? (And we’ve all done it, me too!) Isn’t that rather like filling a bucket with water… which just runs out of all the holes in the bottom?

It’s not rocket science! We simply need to show visitors to our websites the benefits of doing business with us. And we need to do it in a fun, interesting manner.

If possible, we should pack our websites with ‘FREE gifts’, so that visitors derive immediate benefit. One of the most valued gifts is FREE information which you give to your visitors and which will help them.

I’m amazed when I see websites created and run by people ten times more clever than me… yet doomed to failure because they broke ‘The Iron Law of Marketing’ – WIIFM, ‘What’s In It For Me’.

Often it just needs a change in focus and some alterations for your website to be much more successful. If you disregard WIIFM, it will become your worst enemy. If you take heed, it will become your best friend.