RACHEL WOLFE '20
ASHLEY SLIMMER '20
KRISTIN BERE '22
ABIGAIL ALTMAN ’24
ALEX ZHAO '21
TYLER LE '20
SARAH GARRETT '20
Illustrators harness the imagination, making ideas visible. Skilled in visual problem solving, illustrators typically collaborate with creative directors, authors, designers, and editors to translate concepts into representation.
At Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, you’ll fill your toolbox with skills in drawing, painting, 2D, 3D, motion, and animation to ensure you can actualize abstract ideas into tangible images.
In addition to the core communicative goals, our curriculum is also committed to teaching solid foundational skills, professional material handling and application, and research-based approaches to concept development that will prepare you not only to draw well but to understand your work and how to communicate that to clients and collaborators.
Ranked 5th in Illustration Programs in Pennsylvania in 2022
Why Illustration at PCA&D?
As a small professional art college, class size enables you to have a personal relationship with faculty. The illustration faculty at PCA&D are all professional illustrators and designers working in many different markets of illustration.
As contemporary illustrators, they help you balance your own artistic vision with the needs of clients, while also embracing the spirit of entrepreneurship. You’ll learn about effective self-promotion, finding clients, pricing and ethical guidelines, the history of illustration, and how to manage your business, whether as freelance artists or working directly in-house with a company.
Our faculty will support you in finding an internship, mentorship, entrepreneurial-based project, or community-based project. With their guidance and inspiration, you’ll tackle real-world projects with immediate impact, building your portfolio. And, you’ll learn in the #1 best small city to live in the U.S., in a vibrant arts-rich environment with more than 125 galleries and creative spaces.
Beginning in your junior year, you will start to shape your illustration BFA by choosing from classes offered in the classical concentration and/or the contemporary concentration.
Classical Concentration: concentrates on the classical approach to illustration including draftsmanship and painting. Representational painting techniques (taught both traditionally and digitally), storytelling (both visual and written), and conceptually narrative image making is the main focus. Some project examples of this type of illustration would include visual development for film, fantasy/science fiction book covers, comic books, or scientifically accurate illustration for publishers and clients.
Contemporary Concentration: concentrates on current trends, contemporary shape building, and conceptual industry language. Focusing on illustrative typography, pattern designs, giftware illustrations, as well as other trending facets of the illustration industry. A few project examples of this track would include hand lettering for labels or posters, pattern illustration/design for products such as fabric or gift wrapping paper, gift card illustration, or conceptual approach to editorial publishing.
Customize your program
PCA&D students have the opportunity to explore multiple interests by incorporating a minor or certificate into their major studies. Expanding your skill sets to cross disciplines will make you more appealing to future employers and broaden your potential career path.
Kristin Bere ’22
Where could your creative life take you?
Trent Sheaffer ’19
Students in the Illustration program take a number of classes in Professional Practices and Portfolio Preparation in order to graduate with a strong body of work for full-time and freelance opportunities.
Preparing for a career as an illustrator means knowing how to create and manage online stores as well as curate and promote your professional brand through websites and social media platforms. Students learn the essentials of billing, pricing ethical guidelines, contracts, copyrights, taxes, engaging artists’ representatives, and funding strategies.
Some students work with mentors to further hone their own personal style in preparation for their final thesis. Other students explore internships and projects for clients to anchor their portfolio in real-world experiences. Students also have the option to work at the College’s in-house internship program, The Agency, where they will tackle design and branding projects for both the College and for community non-profit organizations. Interns for The Agency gain valuable experience in business, presentation, public speaking, and collaboration.
These real-world experiences in and out of the classroom are opportunities to network and work with masters in their fields, making connections that can lead to lifelong mentors or even pre-graduation job offers. Here you will build skill sets allowing you to land positions in:
- Art Directors
- Comic Book Artists
- Commercial Illustrators
- Concept Artists
- Courtroom Sketch Artists
- Editorial Illustrators
- Fashion Illustrators
- Film Storyboard Creators
- Production designers
- Scientific Illustrators
- Set Designers
- Toy Designers
As a professional illustrator, you can work in almost any industry, particularly within the creative arts and design sector. Illustrators are entrepreneurial with nearly 85% managing their own businesses, offering the freedom to take on projects of their own choosing.
where are Alumni now?
Illustration graduates pursue careers in a variety of fields. PCA&D graduates have worked for such clients as A&E Network, Adidas, Blue Sky Studios, Disney, ESPN, HBO, Fox Interactive, PBS Kids, Time Warner Cable, The Wall Street Journal, and Hasbro.
Players of Magic: The Gathering, take note. Work by Kaitlyn McCulley ’21, Illustration, is featured in the newly released Alchemy: Eldrane set. It’s “a digital offshoot of the main, physical set Magic: The Gathering: Wilds of Eldrarne,” McCulley says, and “there were only 30 cards for Alchemy” by different contributing
A faculty of working illustrators
As experienced working professionals with strong ties to resources and opportunities in the field, your faculty assign competitive, real-world projects to enhance your portfolio with professional work well before you graduate.
Robert Young, Department Chair
“I teach an approach to illustration that treats the illustrator as an author and content creator. This differs greatly from traditional illustration programs that consider the illustrator more of a hired hand.”
Frank Barbera ’21
HOW TO Apply
Make your creative life, a way of life
While you’re still deciding on a school, go ahead and start an application, it’s free! Submitting an application isn’t a commitment to PCA&D but it helps us get to know you better. Or you can start by submitting 8-10 pieces of your art to help us assess your potential.
Whether you’re just starting to learn about PCA&D or ready to submit an application, connect with us. We offer a range of ways to visit, from on-campus visits to online info sessions and 1-on-1s with an admissions counselor.