Shelly Murney

Shelly Murney

If you are passionate about what you do, this will come through in your career. No blinders. Stick to your dreams despite any challenges. Shelly Murney , Faculty , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I knew I was destined to become a creative professional when I took my first office job after college. Working in the stock photography industry, I knew I had the passion to pursue my dreams. I went back to graduate school to pursue my MFA in photography.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

Part of being a successful designer and photographer is being able to adapt to change. I embrace change, and encourage students to try new things. Whether it’s a compositional consideration or layout, camera angle or new approach, change doesn’t hurt—it makes you a better artist. 

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

In Web Design for Non-Majors, the class project is fluid. Students are able to modify their project as their design dictates. They may decide to scrap a piece of it and build a stronger component. This assignment exemplifies how I teach by being flexible and honest about what works and doesn’t.

What are the benefits of teaching an online course?

I can be more present for my students teaching online, because I’m only an email away. Virtual office hours make it easy to connect, more so than driving to a brick and mortar institution. There are no walls teaching online, and the communication channels are open.

What are the benefits of an online education for students?

An online classroom is a safe space for creativity. In a way it is better than a physical classroom, especially with Digital Photography, because students are more likely to participate. By encouraging a sharing community, the online classroom can help art students push themselves to new creative levels.

What are the most student-friendly features of an online education?

I like to think of discussions as open studio critiques. Critiques are essential to growth, and the positive atmosphere of our classrooms help students grow as artists.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Web Design for Non-Majors and Digital Photography for Non-Majors are two classes in which students from various programs collaborate. Collaboration is an art form in and of itself and is the heart of all of our programs. Students give and receive feedback to each other and openly exchange ideas. From game designers to marketing students, the best experiences are when students have that ah-ha moment and realize they can do it!

What’s your one piece of advice for a student embarking on a creative career?

If you are passionate about what you do, this will come through in your career. No blinders. Stick to your dreams despite any challenges. The challenges will make you stronger. Don’t give up.