By Eric Garneau
Universities often offer entire programs dedicated to the history of artistic expression. However, students who are just looking to broaden their knowledge and appreciation of the subject can take survey courses in art history. These classes typically cover many time periods, cultures and media; you might learn about Renaissance fresco paintings or Native American pottery. Ideally, you'll leave with a basic knowledge of the cultural context and significance of most major art styles.
Photography is a form of expressing yourself through the visual arts that requires a different skill set than traditional hands-on creation. The combination of knowing your technology, having artistic vision and clicking a button can produce fantastic results just as valuable as those that are painted or sculpted. Again, lots of universities dedicate entire programs of study to photography, but students who just want to wet their feet can take introductory classes. They typically include instruction on various technologies, techniques and even the history of the medium.
Though they may not immediately spring to mind when you think of artistic endeavors, the digital arts offer a wide array of options to the more technically-inclined among us. If you can't draw on paper or canvas, maybe you can draw on a computer. That opens up worlds like 3-dimensional rendering, animation, web design and more. Certain types of photography and video editing also fall under the purview of the digital arts.
Related to the digital arts, students who study concepts of design can take their knowledge into a wide variety of fields. What are architects, after all, if not artists? Especially given modern technology, most design and drafting work occurs on computers using CAD software. In fact, the ability to conceptualize and implement spatial relationships is employed by professionals that range from interior designers to civil engineers to mathematicians. It's still art - it's just art on a macro scale.