New Digital Arts Program at MCC

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MCC’s new digital arts program offers ‘hands-on’ learning in photography, graphic design, digital imaging and more.

Digital arts is a field where artistry and technology collide.

Montcalm Community College launched its new digital arts program this fall, offering an associate degree and certificate. Coursework prepares students to work as commercial artists or to operate their own design businesses.

Digital Arts Instructor Seth Sutton, who owns and operates a West Michigan commercial production company, says MCC’s program focuses on providing students “real world” applications of commercial art scenarios.

With clients such as HGTV, Active Interest Media Group and Anchor Hocking, Sutton offers his students a wealth of personal experiences through a “hands-on learning” approach, including instruction in all aspects of digital arts, from digital photography and photo editing to graphic design and typography.

“The key to survival in the commercial art industry is to have the necessary tools to confront any situation,” Sutton says. “These tools include knowing the latest computer platforms and programs, understanding terminologies, knowing how to effectively communicate ideas through a digital medium, and most importantly, knowing how to effectively communicate a client’s needs through an ever-changing digital medium.”

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MCC student Blake Warchuck

In addition to coursework in art history, photography, commercial design, digital imaging, and other specific digital arts topics, the program focuses on teaching students how to survive in the business world and explores management and marketing concepts.

“In all of my college experience and beyond, no one told me how to successfully be an artist,” Sutton explains. “I had to learn how to market myself and my art.

MCC’s new digital arts program offers ‘hands-on’ learning in photography, graphic design, digital imaging and more.

“Our goal at MCC is to teach the fundamentals of commercial art, so students will have a firm background in the arts and be able to move outside the traditional limitations of a medium to explore other avenues within that landscape,” Sutton adds. “Culmination of the program includes preparing a portfolio, with emphasis on how to earn a living in the digital arts profession.”

Upon successful completion of MCC’s digital arts associate degree or certificate, students may opt to launch their own media production company, seek employment with a commercial art agency or transfer to a university to pursue a higher degree in the field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for graphic designers is expected to grow at a rate of 7 percent by 2022, and jobs for multimedia artists and animators is predicted to increase by 6 percent during that same timeframe. Further, the demand for photographers is expected to rise by 4 percent and film/video editors and camera operators are expected to experience a 3-percent growth.

“This is a relatively new field with a lot of potential,” says MCC President Bob Ferrentino. “Many industries, such as health care, education, retail and manufacturing, need people who understand creativity, commercial art and graphic design.”

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ESTIMATED EARNINGS

Film and video editors/camera operators

MEDIAN WAGES  (2012) $22.25 hourly $46,280 annually

Graphic designers

MEDIAN WAGES  (2012) $21.22 hourly $44,150 annually

Multimedia artists and animators

MEDIAN WAGES  (2012) $29.50 hourly $61,370 annually

Photographers

MEDIAN WAGES  (2012) $13.70 hourly $28,490 annually

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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