Visual and Digital Arts

Bachelor of Arts

The Visual and Digital Arts major prepares students for creative careers in a wired world.

We teach students to use contemporary digital tools to not only conceptualize, but also produce and publish multimedia visual communications. Along with developing digital skills, students engage in tactile art making experiences, including drawing, painting, and sculpture.

Students also choose a concentration, which include: The Generalist, The Digital Specialist, The Studio Artist, The Journalist, and The Marketer.

Students who study Visual and Digital Arts at AIC have gone on to a variety of careers, including:

  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Journalism
  • Education
  • Studio Art
  • Film
  • Photography

AIC is excited to offer a major that prepares students for the creative opportunities that continue to emerge in our increasingly digital world. Working closely with faculty and gaining hands-
on experience with the latest digital technologies, the program prepares students to go beyond ‘thinking outside of the box,’ to actually creating the box itself!”

Dr. Susanne Swanker
Dean of the School of Business, Arts & Sciences

In the classroom. In the workforce.

What You’ll Learn

What You’ll Learn

Many of the courses in the VDA program emphasize creative problem solving and invention and prepare students with an adaptable mindset.

Career Opportunities

Career Opportunities

These students will be ready to embrace new employment opportunities that will surely emerge in the current climate of fast-paced workplace evolution.

Future studies

Future studies

With a VDA degree, you’ll be prepared for graduate work in advertising, publishing, communications and public relations, as a range of media studies, including film and photography.


  • ART1000: History of Art
  • COM1212: Introduction to Video Production
  • COM1281: Introduction to Mass Communication
  • COM1410: Digital Photography I
  • COM2631: Visual Communication
  • COM2840: Internet Communication
  • VDA1410: Cultivating Creativity
  • VDA1800: The Vital Basics: Drawing, Painting and Sculpture
  • VDA2000: Business Know-how for the Entrepreneur
  • VDA2210: Digital Storytelling
  • VDA2613: Graphic Design 1
  • VDA3616: Graphic Design 2
  • VDA3601: Art and Culture: A Global Look
  • VDA4695: Capstone Experience in Visual and Digital Arts
  • VDA4899: Internship in Visual and Digital Arts

In addition, choose a concentration from the following areas:

The Generalist

  • COM3500: Reviewing the Arts
  • MUS1020: Jazz, Its Evolution and Impact
  • Choose one:
    • THR1400: Introduction to Theater
    • THR1420: Fundamentals of Acting

The Digital Specialist

  • VDA2860: Video Game Design
  • VDA2620: Animation
  • Choose one:
    • COM2411: Digital Photography II
    • COM3661: Advanced Video Production

The Studio Artist

  • ART1030: Art Appreciation Through Drawing
  • ART1110: Studio Painting
  • VDA1600: The Art of Advertising

The Journalist

  • COM1201: Introduction to Journalism
  • COM2460: History of Photojournalism
  • Choose one:
    • COM2401: Radio Programming and Production
    • COM3411: Documentary Photography Projects

The Marketer

  • COM3201: Public Relations
  • VDA1600: The Art of Advertising
  • Choose one:
    • MKT1450: Principles of Marketing I
    • MKT3620: Social Media and Digital Marketing

Course Descriptions

This course traces world cultural development through the arts of architecture, sculpture and painting. The emphasis is on the social, economic, political, and geographic influences on the stylistic characteristics, subject matter and art forms of various world sites from the earliest prehistoric through the Modernist eras. The cultures of Africa, Australia, Oceania, the Near East, Greece, Rome, India, China, Japan, Europe (England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy) and the Americas will be considered. Field Trip and fee required.

This introductory course in art appreciation examines markmaking as the essential and primary means of expression. Lecture, visual aids, research writing and units of drawing explore the creative impulse of artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso and untrained outsider artists. The student will develop a primary vocabulary of form, materials, and methods for creative expression through studio work. Creativity and creative problem solving strategies are considered in the context of everyday life. Lab fee required.

This is a studio arts course wherein the student will develop technical and expressive skills in the medium of acrylic paint. The student will explore realistic and conventionalized rendering in a pop idiom. They will gain understanding of the creative processing of an idea to result in a tangible product. Background information on pop art will be provided through slides, visual aids, and video from which the student will develop their own ideas. Students will learn about the relationship of pop art to commercial culture and the postmodern age in which we live. Lab fee required.

An introduction to the basics of print Journalism, including reporting, editing, newsroom management, news judgment, news writing and an overview of ethical and legal concerns. Students will analyze the way different local media cover breaking and feature news. The course provides the basic skills required for identifying, gathering, writing and editing news stories for newspapers. CO-REQUISITES: ENG1201 or ENG1601 or permission of intructor

Students will study theories of mass communication and the role that mass communicators play in modern society. The rise of print and electronic media will be discussed in detail. Special attention will be given to the rights, responsibilities and practices of mass media and merging trends.

Fundamental visual art principles constitute the basis of effective visual communication. The course explores these fundamentals while applying the creative approaches unique to digital photography. Students will use the college’s digital darkroom (Adobe Photoshop) to refine and enhance the images they create for weekly assignments. In addition, students will develop a framework to analyze and evaluate photographs, whether created by themselves or others.

This course provides students with the production techniques and programming applications necessary to work at a music radio station. In addition to learning different music programming formats, students will gain hands-on experience on the air at 91.9 WAIC. Student training includes writing and producing station liners, stagers and positioning statements using state of the art digital audio editing systems, producing live broadcasts and phone drops, as well as discussion of taste and sensibility issues, FCC requirements, interpreting ratings data and developing an on-air personality.

This course builds on and deepens work with the fundamental visual art principles introduced in Digital Photography I. Students will employ advanced techniques using digital cameras and the college’s digital darkroom (Adobe Photoshop). Students will enhance their online portfolios, as well as create hands-on communication projects that benefit the college community. The framework for analyzing and evaluating images will be expanded.

This course is a survey of photojournalism, tracing the development from Civil War origins to contemporary practice. Changes in photographic technology and the resulting impact on the craft will be examined. Students will discuss the role of photojournalists who record history in a society built on images.

A production course that focuses on social aspects of Internet communication and the implications of digital media on the World Wide Web. Students explore the history, structure, function and social impact of the Internet and the web. Students will critique web sites, learn Hypertext Markup Language and other appropriate codes, construct simple web pages and integrate multimedia and streaming media into their websites.

Students will explore theories of Public Opinion, Mass Communication and Audience Research and apply that learning toward creating targeted messages in media such as print, direct mail, broadcast and cable television, web and mobile phone applications.

This course is and advanced level course for students who want to pursue in-depth photography projects. The interdisciplinary projects combine image making with areas of student academic focus. The projects often include documenting comminity activities and organizations. Final work will be presented in a variety of digital and analog formats. Lab fee charge.

Students will learn to critique television, film, theater, music, dance, art and photography. Students will review plays, movies and television programs or other art and entertainment forms each week, developing the skills needed to write professional reviews. In addition to learning the necessary terminology, print and media reviews will be analyzed.

Building on the skills learned in COM1212, students will write, produce and edit short narrative films, documentaries and feature length, broadcast quality video productions.

Marketing is a key activity that enables businesses and organizations to achieve their goals by satisfying the needs of others through mutually beneficial relationships. This course will provide students with an understanding of important marketing theory and practices, including: the marketing concept; the marketing environment; market segmentation, product positioning; product and brand strategies; pricing strategies, marketing communication strategies; distribution strategies; consumer and business buying behavior; and electronic marketing.

Social media has changed the much of the playing field in marketing and advertising. Through social media, customers now have access to the vast experiences of other customers to guide their purchase behavior. Conversation and participation are the norms in social media and social communities. Marketers now must embrace this new relationship with customers to be successful. In this course, students will learn about the different types of social media, create social media marketing strategy, and create content and engagement strategies for various social media and sites platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube.

This course traces the course of jazz from the African’s musical heritage to the New World through work songs, spirituals, and blues; the birth of jazz in New Orleans and its dissemination to St. Louis, Chicago, Kansas City, and New York.

This course introduces students to theater as an interdisciplinary, collaborative art. Students will read and analyze plays from varied periods of theater history. The course content includes study of the art, craft, business, and historical roots of drama, as well as theaters relationship to the fine arts. Students will attend the Fall or Spring play and write a formal theatrical critique and whenever possible will attend outside theatrical productions. Over the course of the semester students can expect to engage in a number of group projects including re-writing a scene from a classical play in their own contemporary vernacular and writing a short play using only three words.

This course introduces students to the study and practice of acting for the theater. They will acquaint themselves with physical and vocal warm up activities to harness and understand of the actors body. Students will read plays and will develop one monologue and one scene over the course of the semester from one of the plays read. Students will engage in acting exercises to enhance focus, clarity of thought, a better understanding text, a better understanding of objective driven action and vocal and physical transformation and character development. For each character played students will create a character biography and character journal prior to final performance of scene and monologue. This course also provides a space in which students can harness skills in public speaking, development of confidence and poise, and focus in any given situation.

The premise of this course is that a creative mindset can be consciously cultivated. Students will immerse themselves in the artistic process, developing tools and techniques necessary to become effective creative problem solvers. Experiential classes will combine hands-on art making with the study of research-based theories. To build art making confidence, the course kicks off with the easy to learn and relaxing ‘Zentangle’ method of drawing. Lab fee charged.

The course examines the vital role of art in advertising. Students will undertake a multidisciplinary study, approaching the topic through the lenses of history, psychology, art and culture. Combined with studying these general categories, students will create profiles of notable individuals who have put the “art” in advertising.

Students will learn the principles and elements of art through various media, such as drawing, painting and sculpture. They will learn techniques and processes to capably and inventively translate ideas into form. Students will also employ the stages of the artistic process to develop creative problem solving skills. A vocabulary for participating in critiques will be introduced. Topics include: color, form, space, line, pattern, rhythm, balance, perspective and abstraction.

For individuals who may spend part of their careers doing freelance work, starting a business or other entrepreneurial ventures, this course lays out the fundamentals of working on your own. Principles of sole proprietorship accounting will be covered, including units on taxes, profit/loss statements, contracts, negotiating and inventory management. Effective traditional and social media marketing practices are covered as well. The importance of networking, both new school and old school, is emphasized, along with no-cost/low cost guerilla marketing techniques.

Students will learn how to communicate multilevel stories of a place, moment, person or time by creating multimedia projects. Working with text, still photography, video, music and audio, students will create digital stories and post them online. Students will combine timeless art principles (including viewpoint, composition, light, angle and setting) with literary fundamentals (such plot diagramming and character development) to create modern video projects.

In this introductory class, students with learn graphic design production skills. A focus will be on developing proficiency with the industry standard software tools of InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. Students will learn the fundamentals of designing communication materials, including: how to effectively convey a message whether with typography, images or symbols. Logo design and branding will be covered. Students will create communications pieces that benefit the AIC community.

Students will be introduced to the history and foundations of animation, both 2D and 3D. Using traditional materials in conjunction with digital technologies, students will create web-ready animation projects.

If you like playing video games or are intrigued by their widespread popularity, this course is for you! The course covers the basics of video game design. Once students learn the fundamental building blocks they will create their own games.

Across the globe and throughout time, humans have shared a common interest in creating art. By studying the art, past and present, from a variety of cultures, students will develop a multicultural perspective as they answer such questions as: What is the role of art? What is beauty? Why do I value the images that I value? What is the value of art? What is culture? What are my biases? This is a study-and-create class, as students will produce art projects inspired by art from the cultures they study. The course combines research, museum visits and hands-on art creation.

This class builds on and adds to the concepts introduced in Graphic Design 1. Dreamweaver software will be introduced so students can create projects for the Internet. Students will create mock projects for fictional clients to gain understanding how communications materials affect consumers. Students will also create communications pieces that benefit the community surrounding AIC.

In this course, Visual and Digital Arts Majors spend time working on projects that tailor their portfolios toward career paths that come into sharper focus as they approach graduation. The semester culminates with a gallery exhibition.

This course is a supervised work experience for visual and digital arts students. Students have the opportunity to relate concepts and use skills acquired through coursework to practical applications in a professional setting.

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