Visual and Digital Arts

Bachelor of Arts

The Visual and Digital Arts (VDA) major prepares students for creative careers in a wired world. Contemporary digital tools allow VDA majors to not only conceptualize and create content but also produce and publish multimedia visual communications projects. Along with developing these digital skills, students will engage in tactile art making experiences, as there is no substitute for what the hands can teach the brain about creativity. By choosing the Visual and Digital Arts major, students will come to see the world as artists and develop the ability to imagine what does not yet exist. The goal is not to “think outside of the box”, but rather, to create the box itself. Many of the courses in the VDA program emphasize creative problem solving and invention and prepare students with an adaptable mindset. These students will be ready to embrace new employment opportunities that will surely emerge in the current climate of fast-paced workplace evolution.

Learning Outcomes for Visual and Digital Arts

Students will be able to demonstrate the technical fundamentals and best practices of using current and emerging technologies to solve creative problems within the field of visual communication.

Students will be able to select the project appropriate technology and utilize principles and strategies of design to solve creative problems in multiple formats for multiple audiences.

Students will gain practical experience in a professional setting.

Students will showcase mastery of their chosen specific arts discipline and demonstrate superior project management.

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

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

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

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.

Major Requirements

  • ART1000: History of Art
  • COM1212: Video Production
  • COM1281: Introduction to Mass Communication
  • COM1410: Digital Photography
  • COM2460: History of Photojournalism
  • VDA1800: The Vital Basics: Drawing, Painting and Sculpture
  • VDA2210: Digital Storytelling
  • VDA2613: Graphic Design 1
  • VDA2640: Cultivating Creativity
  • VDA3613: 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

Minor Requirements
The Visual and Digital Arts Minor consists of 18 credit hours.

  • COM1410: Digital Photography
  • VDA2210: Digital Storytelling
  • VDA2640: Cultivating Creativity

Choose three from the following courses:

  • ART1000: History of Art
  • COM1281: Introduction to Mass Communication
  • COM2411: Digital Photography II
  • COM2631: Visual Communication
  • COM2840: Internet Communication
  • VDA1800: The Vital Basics: Drawing, Painting and Sculpture
  • VDA2000: Business Know-how for the Entrepreneur
  • VDA2613: Graphic Design 1
  • VDA3601: Art and Culture: A Global Look

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.

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. This hands-on course explores these fundamentals while applying the creative approaches unique to digital photography. Students will learn how to use advanced digital cameras (DSLR) to create an on-line portfolio, as well techniques to manage and archive media. In addition, students will develop a framework to analyze and evaluate photographs, whether created by themselves or others. PREREQUISITE: None

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.

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.

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.

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. PREREQUISITE: None

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.


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.

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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