What is “Art Instruction Schools”?

Today I thought I’d write a little bit about AIS, because I realized I haven’t really explained it in great detail; simply linked to the website and added a couple of comments here and there, aside from my post on how AIS has helped me improve as an artist. I get a fair amount of questions about it and thought it would be easier to write up a post rather than continuously answer the same questions individually. ^^ That said, if you still have any questions after reading this, please ask! ^^ I may have unintentionally left out something and therefore didn’t answer your question;;;

Art Instruction Schools, or AIS for short, is the correspondence art school in which I am enrolled. “Correspondence” refers to the fact that lessons and assignments are done entirely through the mail; I do not have to go to an institution outside my home in order to attend classes or turn in work. Communication with teachers is done via phone, letter, or email, and the school itself sends you the materials you need to complete the course (including mailers) along with the course books and notifications of things like school contests.

You complete the lessons at your own pace, though they have recommended time frames for you–early lessons should take a week or two, and as you progress it is not unrealistic to take a month or so on each lesson–and they will send you reminders via mail if you take an unusually long time on a lesson. There are no semesters or class “grades”, really… Though I suppose one could count each section as a semester if they wanted; it would make sense if each lesson took a month to do.

When you first enroll, you receive your first two lessons. When you send in the first lesson (yes, they must be done in order), the school sends the third lesson and holds your first one for grading. When you send your second one, they send your fourth. That way you always have a lesson to work on. Graded lessons come back with both a letter grade and helpful notes and such on an overlay which is on top of your drawing. The teachers can show you in this way what you could do better, what you need to work on, or perhaps things they really like about your drawing.

All the art for the lessons is done traditionally; no computers or pen tablets involved. You work with pencil, pen (both felt and nib), brush, paint, and ink and learn many things about art in general, like light and shade, painting techniques, color theory, calligraphy, animal and human figures, cartooning, and more. I find it both refreshing and challenging, as it’s often things I’ve not done before–both in medium and subject–and without the luxury of layers, select and drag, and an “undo” button, it definitely requires a higher level of…consideration? of where to place your lines or strokes of the brush.

I’ve not been asked about this, but I’m sure someone might wonder about it: AIS is an accredited art school, and it is possible (though perhaps not in all cases) to count the course as credit hours in a college, which I think is great for those who may not be starting college right away, as if the college they apply to accepts those credits they can start out being a little further ahead. In addition, the final art project is meant to expand your portfolio, which could also be helpful in a college situation…or even perhaps for business. In terms of financial aid, the school does offer scholarships, as well as aforementioned contests, which are either for scholarships or cash (if you win the cash and still have some tuition to pay, it is first applied to the tuition, which I do think is quite nice).

Um…I can’t think of anything else at this point! Like I said, if there’s anything else you’d like to know, feel free to ask. ^^ I hope this has helped you understand a bit about these lessons and contests I keep talking about. XD

P.S. This is also my first post of 2014! Although I do have a New Year’s post in my drafts…it’s not quite finished so I decided to post this one first. It’s a bit late, but Happy New Year, everyone! 😀 I hope you have a magnificent year!

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