The Illustration program connects PAFA’s strong fine arts traditions with a focus on empowering students to succeed as both creators and entrepreneurs.
Illustration students develop skills in storytelling, visual communication, and entrepreneurship. Their training includes building strong foundational skills in drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking—a core PAFA philosophy that has launched generations of PAFA artists and illustrators from Maxfield Parrish and Violet Oakley, to Don Martin and Kate Samworth.
This dynamic program also connects students to established illustration professionals through lectures, hands-on critiques, demonstrations, and workshops.
Illustration students use the mediums of painting, life drawing, printmaking, figure sculpture, artistic anatomy, print media and the digital arts to develop and communicate their personal artistic vision through individual and collaborative art-making and storytelling.
Graduates of the program will be equipped with the tools to launch careers in fields including animation, book and magazine illustration, graphic novels, poster and storyboard art, medical illustration, and many other art- and design-related professions.
Courses in the new program include the History of Illustration, Visual Narration, Narrative and Sequential Drawing, Illustration Methods, Digital Imaging, Letterpress and Book Arts, Business Practices of Art, and courses with master illustrators such as David Wiesner and E.B. Lewis.
Jessica Abel, Chair of Illustration program
Jessica Abel, an award-winning cartoonist, illustrator and writer, has been appointed Chair of PAFA's Illustration program. She is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including La Perdida, Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio, and Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars. In addition, she has taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York, the European School of Visual Arts in France, the California College of Arts, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Learn more about Abel's work on her website.
James Gurney (Distinguished guest artist)
New classrooms, workspaces and digital facilities will greet students in the new Fine Arts Illustration program. The modern additions serve as a complement to drawing classes in PAFA’s breathtaking cast hall, which includes cast models of antique and Renaissance sculpture that have been part of the curriculum for nearly 200 years.
The Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building has outstanding facilities for illustration. These include two skylit painting studios, a number of large painting classrooms, illustration, drawing studios and painting studios, and a rooftop terrace often used for cityscapes.
All advanced Certificate and BFA students also have 24-hour access to working studio spaces in a secure facility. PAFA’s other outstanding facilities include sky-lit studios and a rooftop terrace often used for cityscapes.