Illustration students learn to use their unique visual idiom to tell stories, communicate information, and inspire change. Their training includes building strong foundational skills in drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking—a core PAFA approach 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 visual tools they find most compelling, including drawing, painting, digital media, printmaking, and sculpture, to develop and communicate their personal artistic vision. Their strong conceptual problem-solving and critical thinking skills allow them to solve visual communication problems in their own work and for clients. To support their professional development, students build a suite of professional skills including financial literacy, strategic planning, marketing, client communication, and entrepreneurship.

Graduates of the program will be equipped with the tools to launch careers in fields including book and magazine illustration, graphic novels, conceptual art, storyboarding, medical illustration, and many other arts and design-related professions.

Courses in the program include Graphic Narrative, Digital Drawing & Painting, Digital Photo Reference, and Illustration Portfolio. View the Illustration Department Curriculum.

Resources and Facilities

Arcadia Fine Arts Library and Media Lab

These facilities complement PAFA's existing Media Lab, set up for green screen video work and photography (including documentation of artwork), as well as access to equipment through PAFA’s Arcadia Fine Arts Library. Available digital equipment includes desktops, laptops, and various still and moving image cameras for in-class and outside use.

PAFA's digital labs are supported by a full-time technician, who keeps the computers and software up to date, runs instructional workshops, and provides students and faculty with assistance.

Digital Lab
Digital lab
Illustration Classroom
Illustration classroom
Media Studio
Media Studio
Gang Illustration desk 1
Undergraduate illustration studio
Gang Illustration desk 2
Undergraduate illustration studio

Stories from Illustration

Jessica Abel with student

Fine Arts Dean Clint Jukkala sat down with Jessica Abel, the Chair of PAFA’s Illustration Program, and Frank Genuardi '19 to talk about Fine Arts training, illustrating in a digital age, and preparing for life after graduation. (

Frank Genuardi giving commencement address

“Jessica [Abel] doesn't do anything unless it serves more than one purpose. You can learn a skill but she also wants you to learn that skill in conjunction with business practice. Yes, you will learn how to properly color a comic page but you’re going to learn a business skill too. She always finds a way to relate it to something outside of art but it’s necessary.” – Frank Genuardi, BFA '19