What Are The Top Art Schools?

Rankings are always tricky. Rating the top art schools depends on the criteria of the one or ones doing the judging and possibly whether or not they have some sort of connection or vested interest in placing certain schools where they place them. Cronyism aside and imagining a perfect world of total objectivity, a one-size-fits-all rating system would only work in a world where artists are determined ahead of time in a test tube and everyone is a homogenous clone. But then you have to wonder if art and creative expression would even really exist in such a utopian society.

So, back to the present day reality, a single specific answer to the question, "What are the top art schools?" generally does a disservice to the needs of the individual student. As with stereo components, it depends entirely on priority and application. The top school for music and performing arts will likely not be the top school for commercial and visual arts. Even within a single category, the "best" art school will still depend on the needs and priorities of the student.

There are a number of organizations and publications willing to give it a shot, though, and their conclusions can be easily found on the Internet. However, it is best to consider these ratings simply a starting point, as they can be quite misleading. Remember that higher education is funded primarily by the students who attend said facilities. No students, no school. No school, no over-paid faculty incapable of working in the real world. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?) And that, that certainly does not apply to all art school faculty members.

The first thing you need to determine is what you plan to do with an art education. There are many and varied career choices. The art career or occupation you want will be one of the most important deciding factors in your own personal ranking system.

For instance, if you're already working in the art field of your choice (or close to it) and all you need is a piece of paper, then you can probably get what you need from a local community college or state university. Depending on the state, that may be a less expensive way to get that piece of paper than going to a dedicated art school.

If, on the other hand, you're gunning for a particular possibly prestigious position in a well-known art gallery, it would serve you well to work backwards. Find out what they consider the top art schools and which of those they most often hire graduates from. In other words, which art school degree will get your resume to the top of the stack?

Your choice may also come down to economics. What can you afford; what kind of financial aid is available; and what are you chances of a reasonable pay off?

In the end, you are the judge. You will have to determine what the top art schools are for you and make the best choice for you. After all, individuality is the very pulse of art.

Does Your Website Follow “The Iron Law of Marketing?”

Many websites unwittingly ignore ‘The Iron Law’ of Marketing. They begin by explaining features about the company, e.g. how long they’ve been in business, what their premises look like, etc. The truth is that most visitors to your website couldn’t give a hoot about the features of your company! What they primarily care about is WIIFM.

WIIFM stands for ‘What’s In It For Me’. It’s ‘The Iron Law of Marketing’. Unless visitors to your website can quickly see what your business can do for them, the chances are that they’ll be gone quickly, typically in seconds. Once they’re gone, they’re gone – probably never to return.

WIIFM – ‘What’s in it for me’. Are we really so self-centred? Well, yes, I’m afraid that we are. Please don’t feel guilty – it’s just the way we’re hard-wired. Sure, farther down the line, we care about others. But, first and foremost, we’re concerned about how we survive and thrive. That’s simple evolutionary common sense.

If you want your visitor to stay on your website, you need to heed ‘The Iron Law of Marketing’. You need to give your visitors WIIFM – ‘What’s in it for me’. But the paradox is this: the ‘me’ shouldn’t be you (i.e. your premises, etc). It should be them – your visitors.

You need to put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and address what they’re interested in, what they might want, how you may be able to help them.

Most companies are concerned to get ‘targeted traffic’ (i.e. potential clients to their sites) through SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and other clever stuff. And this is important – very important indeed.

But if most of your prospective clients leave your website in a few seconds, isn’t that just a little bit silly? (And we’ve all done it, me too!) Isn’t that rather like filling a bucket with water… which just runs out of all the holes in the bottom?

It’s not rocket science! We simply need to show visitors to our websites the benefits of doing business with us. And we need to do it in a fun, interesting manner.

If possible, we should pack our websites with ‘FREE gifts’, so that visitors derive immediate benefit. One of the most valued gifts is FREE information which you give to your visitors and which will help them.

I’m amazed when I see websites created and run by people ten times more clever than me… yet doomed to failure because they broke ‘The Iron Law of Marketing’ – WIIFM, ‘What’s In It For Me’.

Often it just needs a change in focus and some alterations for your website to be much more successful. If you disregard WIIFM, it will become your worst enemy. If you take heed, it will become your best friend.

Fashion Jewelry Facts and Care Tips

Why we love fashion jewelry?

Fashion jewelry, also referred to as costume jewelry, is a fun and inexpensive way to express your individual style. Its low cost composition means that it is easy to get your moneys worth of use out of it and allows for a much greater variety of bolder, attention grabbing styles and colors that can be mixed and matched according to your mood or wardrobe.

Caring for your fashion jewelry

Although fashion jewelry doesn’t require much of an investment, it is still important to get the most bang for your buck by taking proper care of your costume jewelry by following a few simple steps:

- NEVER allow fashion jewelry to come in contact with oils, soaps, perfumes, or any harsh chemicals which can fade or even ruin the item.

- ALWAYS remove jewelry before sports, swimming, exercising, washing hands, showering, cleaning, doing laundry, or applying lotions or creams.

- NEVER store jewelry wet. Always dry with a soft cloth before storing.

- When cleaning, be gentle! Use a soft toothbrush and jewelry cleaner that specifically states that it is safe for costume jewelry. Make sure it does not contain acid, alcohol, or ammonia. Only use jewelry cleaner as directed. DO NOT over scrub.

- Store jewelry in a plastic ziploc bag or soft jewelry pouch away from other objects and jewelry items to avoid scratching.

- Store jewelry in a clean, dry, cool, not cold place away from heat and dust.

- Use a jewelry cloth for buffing.

- Regularly check for loose stones.

Fashion jewelry typically consists of three elements:

1. A base alloy such as brass, nickel, aluminum, tin or a combination of metals that has been altered to resemble more precious metals such as silver, gold, or platinum. This is achieved by a variety of methods including:

· tone: Have you ever heard of fashion jewelry that is referred to as silver or gold tone? This means just what the name implies. Tone refers to the color of the metal only. Gold and silver tone jewelry are silver and gold in color but contain no actual gold or silver.

· electroplating: This is probably the most common method. In this process an electric current is used to deposit a thin layer, as little as 2 micro inches (a micro inch is one millionth of an inch) onto the base alloy metal which is immersed in a salt bath solution of the precious metal that will be used to plate the object.

· layering: This method also utilizes the process of electroplating. However, the plated object is immersed for a longer period of time allowing for a much thicker layer of precious metal to be deposited. Layered gold or silver consists of approximately 20-50 micro inches of gold or silver. Although it doesn’t sound like much. This thicker layer results in a much more durable, longer lasting jewelry piece.

· overlay: This method utilizes heat rather than electricity to combine the base metal with the precious metal to form a new alloy. This creates a permanent bond between the metals which creates jewelry that can be as durable and long lasting as the real thing with proper care. Gold overlay jewelry is also sometimes referred to as gold filled. It is generally safer for sensitive skin than costume jewelry made by other methods.

· Technibond: This is considered to be one of the most desirable methods of gold plating because it uses a full 40 micro inches of 14kt gold over .925 sterling silver rather than a typical base alloy. It is the best of both worlds.

· vermeil: This is the top of the line in gold plating. This method uses as much as 100 micro inches of gold over .925 sterling silver and as you can expect is also a bit pricier. It may be worth it for someone looking for something closer to the real thing without paying the exorbitant price for solid gold.

2. Man made stones such as cubic zirconia, crystals, rhinestone, glass, or epoxy are the second component of most fashion jewelry The most popular of which is cubic zirconia because of its physical characteristics. It is used to create simulated versions of precious gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Its sparkly appeal and inexpensive price tag allow for much larger, more glitzy fashion pieces that instantly attract attention. Colored glass can also be used to simulate precious stones and faux pearls. Rhinestone and crystal jewelry is also popular because of its glitzy appeal and color choices. Epoxy and acrylic are plastics that is often used to make inexpensive bead jewelry.

Although typical fashion jewelry consists of man made stones sometimes natural crystals and semiprecious stones such as pearls, topaz, black opal, amethyst, or peridot is used to provide a more fine jewelry appeal.

3. Fashion jewelry may also consist of unusual materials such as wood, stone, and shell which can be either natural or colored.

Privacy Issues Surrounding Biometric Technology

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have provoked in-depth discussion and study of existing security measures, their deficiencies, and how to enhance security to prevent similar terrorist attacks from occurring in the future. Biometric technology has risen to the top of the list as a possible solution. The government is not the only entity exploring biometric security systems. The financial services industry see biometrics as a way to curb identity theft. Biometrics are intrinsic physical characteristics used to identify individuals. The most commonly used biometric is fingerprints but others include, handprints, facial features, iris & retinal scans, and voice recognition.

Soon after 9/11 there were calls for the issuance of national ID cards containing biometric information on an RFID chip implanted on the card. The argument is that national ID cards will increase security by identifying individuals with their unique fingerprints which are much more difficult to counterfeit than standard photo ID cards. There is also a movement toward biometric passports. It looks like biometric passports are coming soon. National ID cards may follow.

Biometric identification is nothing new. Humans have been identifying other humans biometrically since the beginning of time. You recognize people you know by their facial features, their voice, and other biometric features. What’s new is introducing technology into the mix that compares a given biometric with a stored database of biometrics to verify the identity of an individual. An individual place their finger on a fingerprint scanner and the image is compared with the database to verify the person’s identity. Promising as it is, biometric technology has not been without hiccups but biometrics are advancing quickly and becoming more and more prevalent in security systems.

Fingerprints are the most commonly used biometric identifiers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a study that showed single fingerprint biometric systems had a 98.6 percent accuracy rate. The accuracy rate rose to 99.6 percent when 2 fingerprints were used and an almost perfect 99.9 percent when 4 or more fingerprints were used. The study results show that biometric identification is nearly perfect which is not surprising given the uniqueness of human fingerprints.

The US-VISIT program, which is an acronym for United States Visitor & Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, currently requires foreign visitors to the US to present a biometric passport containing 2 fingerprints and a digital photo for identification purposes before being granted admission to the U.S. Of course the biometrics are compared against a vast network of government databases full of known and suspected terrorists and other criminals.

On the surface biometric technology may sound like a panacea but it’s use has raised significant privacy concerns that need to be addressed. Here are six major privacy concerns: storage, vulnerability, confidence, authenticity, linking, and ubiquity.

Critics wonder how the data will be stored and how vulnerable it will be to theft or abuse. Confidence issues center around the implications of false positives and false negatives. Can the biometric data be used to link to other information about the individual such as marital status, religion, employment status, etc.? And finally ubiquity. What are the implications of leaving electronic “bread crumbs” to mark a trail detailing every movement an individual makes?

Until these issues are addressed, privacy advocates will lead a charge to resist biometric technology claiming it as a way for the government to assume a “Big Brother” type of rule as described in George Orwell’s novel 1984. But protest as they may, it’s likely national security concerns and the ability of biometric systems to enhance the security of US border and possibly prevent another major terrorist attack will win out over privacy concerns.