These Online Classes for Artists Also Make Great Gifts

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This holiday season, you might already be looking to the year ahead and considering learning a new skill or brushing up on an old one. But an online art class might just be just the right gift for a creative friend or family member. Below, see our list of some of the best online courses for artists.

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On June 2, 2021, a noteworthy event took place in the world of online education. On that day, LinkedIn completed its incorporation of the online educational content and thousands upon thousands of video classes that had been part of the website Lynda.com. Lynda.com was one of the first online education websites and one of the most successful. Now, all that content will appear on LinkedIn Learning.

This transition comes more than six years after LinkedIn bought the online education company from its founders, Lynda Weinman and her husband, Bruce Heavin, who started the website in 1995. The price: $1.5 billion.

In addition to being an author and business leader, Lynda Weinman is also an artist. On Lynda.com students all types (including artists) could learn to crop a selfie in Photoshop, produce a funny animated GIF for their grandparents, or edit a graduation video for family and loved ones.

Today, LinkedIn Learning is one of the best online educational services, but it’s not the only one artists can use to gain skills in digital photography, video, audio, animation, or even more practical ones like how to use Microsoft Office or create a PDF. Here are four web-based platforms (including LinkedIn Learning) that can help you expand your artistic horizons.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning requires you to have a monthly subscription to access all the content on the website. Its vast library has more than 16,300 courses in seven languages across creative, technical, and business categories. Since LinkedIn took over Lynda.com, it has continued adding features. For instance, you can now access the content in different languages.

There are also lots of features that help you keep track of how you’re learning. For instance, the website tells you how much more of a particular video you need to watch to complete it. It will read “COURSE 1h 45m 51s left,” which means you have just under two hours of video to watch to complete the course. Plus, if you’re using the web version of a course, you can access the transcript and follow along with the speaker; the text is highlighted in bold, in real time, as the instructor in the video speaks.

LinkedIn Learning has a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices. After a one-month free trial, you can pay for your subscription monthly ($29.99 a month) or for an entire year up front (for $19.99 a month). You can also pay for courses individually. There is also some free content on the website, and students and educators should check with their schools to see if they can access the service without cost or via a team plan.

YouTube

It won’t be a surprise to many that another great educational resource for artists is YouTube, where you can find how-to videos on just about anything, including less commonly known art techniques such as silverpoint or frottage drawing. One of the big attractions for using YouTube is that it’s free. But the downside is that unlike LinkedIn Learning, which curates the content, anyone can create YouTube content and upload it. The quality of videos varies a lot, so you may not always be confident that the creator of a YouTube video is actually an expert in his or her field. You can download YouTube mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices.

Skillshare

Geared to creative types, Skillshare combines a curator model (like LinkedIn Learning’s) with an anyone-can-be-a-teacher model (like YouTube’s). Courses deemed most worthy by Skillshare are boosted on the site’s promo pages; recent featured content included introductions to nature painting, DSLR photography, and hand lettering. There is also a wide selection of courses for children, from step-by-step tutorials on how to draw jungle animals to kid-friendly watercolor projects. To access all of Skillshare’s content, you need a Premium membership: Pay an annual fee of $168 (which comes to $13.99 per month) or in monthly payments of $32 each. There are iOS and Android mobile apps available for each of those platforms. Right now, you’ll get 30% off the membership, if you pay annually instead of monthly. However, if you sign up monthly, you’ll still get the first month free.

Coursera

Coursera is primarily a free service that works with many universities, distributing content in conjunction with courses that these universities offer. It offers a wide array of courses and also lets you audit classes taught by exceptional teachers at top-notch schools, free of charge. However, if you want to earn credits for taking the classes, or earn a certificate or degreee, that’s when you’ll need to pay.

Under Arts & Humanities you’ll find beginning courses on contemporary art (from the Museum of Modern Art), graphic design (from California Institute of the Arts), and music production (from the Berklee College of Music), to name just a few. Tired of being a starving artist? Go for an MBA from the University of Illinois or a master’s in social work from the University of Michigan.

Coursera pricing varies depending on whether you are paying for a premium version of one of their courses, a specialization bundle, a certificate, or a degree. Right now, the website’s yearly subscription is $359.10 with 10% discount. Mobile apps are available for both iOS and Android devices.

MasterClass

You’ve most likely seen one of the commercials for MasterClass, the online education subscription service that gets celebrities from to record tutorials on a wide range of topics from cooking to science to philosophy. Instructors include musician Alicia Keys, chef Gordon Ramsay, editor and fashion icon Anna Wintour, comedian and actor Steve Martin, and other luminaries. One commercial even features well-known artist Jeff Koons, but there are other artists teaching courses as well, among them photographer Annie Leibovitz (photography), street artist Futura (spray painting and abstract art), Tyler Mitchell (storytelling and portrait photography), Es Devlin (turning ideas into art), and Jimmy Chin (adventure photography), with more always being added.

Relying they do for star power, courses can be entertaining as well as useful, but that comes at a price. So how do you know if MasterClass is for you? You can watch free videos or chapters for many of the courses without having to sign up for the service. The least expensive annual membership fee is $180 or “$15 (billed annually).” For a limited time, you can buy one MasterClass annual membership and get an additional annual membership free. Check this page for more about the offer.

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