Forget about the image of the starving artist. Two Ashland companies that create apps are offering up to 100 summer internships so that college art students can break into lucrative app development careers.

Forget about the image of the starving artist. Two Ashland companies that create apps are offering up to 100 summer internships so that college art students can break into lucrative app development careers.

Open Door Networks and Project A are the creators of the popular Art Authority app, which organizes and displays thousands of images of art. They want the help of college art students to boost the image collection from 50,000 artworks to 75,000, while also upgrading the existing image collection and related data.

The internships are unpaid and require a minimum 20-hour-per-week commitment, but provide potentially valuable work experience. Nationwide, annual salaries for app developers range from $84,575 to $121,888, according to the Minnesota-based business magazine Finance & Commerce.

Apps, short for applications, are used on mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad, to do everything from play the Angry Birds video game to view a store's product offerings.

One in 2 chief information officers working for 1,400 large companies across the nation either have an app in place for their businesses or plan to have one created in the next year, according to the results of a recent survey reported by Finance & Commerce.

"It's like 15 years ago when everyone wanted a website. Now everyone wants an app," said Open Door Networks President Alan Oppenheimer.

He said it's financially risky for people to develop their own apps, but there are plenty of job opportunities creating apps for other companies. His company and Project A have had hits such as the Art Authority app, but also commercial failures.

Oppenheimer said the idea to offer the 100 internships this summer grew out of the two companies' work with Pennsylvania's Seton Hall University, which uses Art Authority in its classrooms and provided an intern last summer.

The two Ashland companies realized there was a huge potential to scale up the internship program to benefit other students and the Art Authority update project, Oppenheimer said.

College art students don't need to work physically at the Ashland companies. They can work at home or in their dorm rooms, saving significantly on expenses.

They must be at least 18 years old and be enrolled as art majors or art minors. Some exceptions may be possible. Students must have high-speed Internet connections because they will be mining Internet sources for images of artwork.

Because of its age, most classic artwork used for Art Authority is in the public domain and not subject to copyright restrictions, according to the two companies.

Students may be able to earn credit through their colleges, and those who perform well will be offered letters of involvement and recommendation.

Students will learn technology skills while doing art-related work.

"Art Authority is quite literally the intersection of technology and art, and we think it's a great alternative to a traditional art internship," Oppenheimer said.

He said the companies already have received applications from intern-hopefuls, and their technology skills are better than expected. Students need to be able to search the Internet via Google or other search engines and need basic image manipulation skills — which are fairly widespread abilities these days, Oppenheimer said.

The companies will provide additional technology training, he said.

To find out more about the internships, to apply or to contact the companies, visit interns.artauthority.net/.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.