As the elevator doors open onto the eighth floor, your eyes are immediately treated to the sight of colorful display cases, bursting with picture books, character drawings, pop-ups, stuffed toys, and sculptures.
Welcome to the Illustration Department. One-hundred-forty-five students. Thirty-two faculty members. Three years of non-stop illustration.
Wait, what? Parsons actually has another department other than Fashion? It’s true. They exist. But, honestly, who actually knows anything about them? Well, hopefully, you will once you finish this little book of ours. We’ve got it all. The good, the bad, and the awesome sides of the Parsons Illustration Department. Is it actually possible to get a good night’s sleep or will you die under ten tons of homework? Will your peers try to stab you with an Olfa knife when you’re not looking or will you find yourself among a group of amazingly chill people? Interested? The answers are just a page away!
Drawing “This class isn’t about whether you have the world’s greatest idea or not. It’s about producing good drawings, about technique and about producing work that stands strong aesthetically, even under a critial eye. That’s not to say we just draw a model for three hours straight, ‘til suddenly we are “technically proficient” in accurately reproducing the human form. Creativity is still a huge factor.
This class really pushes the how, not the what.”
class focused almost entirely on gesture drawing. Our assignments were pretty
broad, but pretty much all ouf in-class drawing time was spent on gestures. I’m not entirely happy about that.”
can’t say much about my concepts class. I’ve heard
Wendy Popp is amazing. Les Kanturek is also pretty good. I had
Caty Bartholomew first semester. I don’t really think any of our projects were very significant. You would think that concepts class
is very “conceptual”, but so far it doesn’t seem to be the case.
“ ur concepts class is, well, mostly conceptually orientated.”
Materials and Methods is one of the core classes illustration students must take in their sophomore year. In this course, students learn the methods of using a variety of materials to create illustrations. Through experimentation with different media and inspiration from present and past artists, students develop an understanding of the different conceptual and narrative problems in illustration. The different mediums covered, but not limited to, are acrylic, collage, mixed media, gouache, and prints.
Typography is one of the core classes illustration students must take in their spring semester of sophomore year. In this class, students learn the basics of typography by exploring practical, professional as well as expressive uses of type through experimentation, practice and execution. The class helps students develop and hone basic design skills while essentially helping them creatively incorporate type into their illustrative works.
Examples of assignments: - Design a logo for a cartoon character - Create a t-shirt design
Student & Faculty Interviews
“I’ve always been an illustrator and I’ve been drawing since before I could remember. It almost seemed natural to choose.” ALEXANDER is a current sophomore in the Illustration Program. He refers to animation as his passion and follows the Animation Track the department offers. The skills he has learned so far has allowed him to land an internship at a video game company. Though he has learned a lot, he recommends that the Animation Track only be taken by students who are really passionate about animating.
SAMANTHA PEARLMAN I'm from Florham Park, New Jersey which is only like 45 minutes from here. During my school years, my art teachers were all really supportive and made sure I was always working harder than the kids that were in the class. But I'd be nowhere without my mom, she was the one who first told me about Parsons and signed me up for the Saturday pre-college classes and the Summer intensive at Parsons. She's very creative so it pushed me to live up to her level. There are only two real reasons why I am where I am today and that’s my mom and my dad; their success in life makes me want to work harder and harder and the support they give is really important to me.
‘ I WOULD LIKE TO DO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL ILLUSTRATION SUCH AS MAGAZINE OR LOGO DESIGN. BUT MY MAIN GOAL IS TO ONE DAY BE AN ART DIRECTOR’
By Samantha Pearlman
“ rowing up on Dawn of the Dead, and Universal Monsters really shows in my work, but I’m also a total music nerd. A lot of
depnding on my mood, I’ll end up with something you might see at Kidrobot: if Kidrobot sold crappy student work.” my work will take a sharp turn towards twee, or
John Garcia Sophomore
“Draw as much as possible. If you want to be a good Illustrator, you have to actually draw.
Draw until it’s all you want to do. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, drop out.”
From Queens, New York, Sophia is currently a senior in the Illustration program. She enjoys editorial and merchandising work. In her free time, she likes walking her dog Baxter as well as drawing, designing stuff, and cooking.
All artwork by Sophia Chang
CIARA is currently a sophomore in the Illustration Program. She loves working in 3D and enjoys the freedom of exploration in the Materials & Methods class. One of her favorite art forms is stop motion and she has recently been experimenting with its old school techniques. If she could change anything in program, she would create a better sense of communication between the professors and administrators. Still she is very happy with all her classes and thinks that the professors are generally top notch and all her projects have produced great results.
â€œThe best communicative tool I have been given is my ability to create and draw.â€?
WHY ILLUSTRATION ? The best answer I can give to this question is through the use of a quote from the head of the Illustration Department, Steven Guarnaccia: "Fine Arts is like having a conversation with just yourself, and Illustration is like having a conversation with the entire world." I am interested in communicating globally to make some sort of difference, and I don't ever want to limit my opportunity for making this happen by creating things that are too personal for anyone else to learn something from. The best communicative tool I have been given is my ability to create and draw. CIARA GAY
Well first I choose Parsons without really thinking about my major just because I love the school, I did the summer program going to my senior year in highschool and I love it, then I was thinking about Fashion and all the hype about the difficulty and cut throatness TOTALLY turned me off, who wants to deal with that shit? So I figured out either Communication Design or Illustration and my mum said it’s better to learn to draw the shit out of anything first, then you can choose later to do a masters program in Communication Design, if you want to. But, so far I’m really happy where I’m now and I have No regrets. Samantha Pearlman
I'd switch if I still could but it's too late. In the end we're just going to school to improve our knowledge of the arts and hoping that we can be molded to be a professional by the time we graduate. No matter what school you go to, it's really the students around you, the teachers and what you want to make out of all that. I think every morning a successful student needs to have a positive attitude of wanting to learn and make the most out of what their parents are paying for. Going to art school for college is like going to middle school to be a doctor. You should either be serious or get out. SOPHIA CHANG
As I sort of said before, I chose Illustration because I love to draw and at some point during my life, I realized I could probably make a career of it. As for Parsons? Honestly, I chose Parsons over, say, SVA because I could Duel Major at Lang. I was a big fan of the New School… academi c mentality… well, what it used to be, before Kerry stepped in and royally fucked everything up. But I guess that… a tot al ly di ffer ent int er vi ew. JOHN GARCIA
No matter what school you go to, itâ€™s really the students around you, the teachers and what you want to make out of all that. I think every morning a successful student needs to have a positive attitude of wanting to learn and make the most out of what their parents are paying for. Going to art school for college is like going to med school to be a doctor. You should either be serious or get out. In the end weâ€™re just going to school to improve our knowledge of the arts and hoping that we can be molded to be a professional by the time we graduate.
Parsons is unique because of its malleable curriculum that permits you to broaden your skills and talents. For example, I am an Illustration student learning Animation.
All artwork by Sophia Chang
The vibe is amazing! Imagine taking all the most laid back kids that attend Parsons and giving them the same classes: you have the illustration department. - Alexander
As for the class of 2010, everyone is pretty laid back. No one’s too competitive. If anything everyone is very encouraging.
Overall I’d say we’re a pretty laid back bunch. But as you might guess, there are SOME weirdos that totally get into it and won’t let their guard down. - Samantha
I would definitely categorize the illustration students as super friendly and supportive. We end up spending most if not all of our critique time being blown away by what each other are capable of. - Ciara
Workload & Time Management
“I wasn’t actually in Illustration last semester, however, last semester was brutal. I was taking 20 credits while also working 30+ hours a week. This, I do not recommend.” Iain Burke “Oh, goodness. The work load is manageable, but you must hone your time management skills. Good
time management is the key to creating successful projects
that could possibly be portfolio pieces in the future.
Ciara Gay “Contrary to most generalizations, the Illustration curriculum is more intense than the Foundation program by a long shot. You take 32 contact hours instead of 19 and
the classes are far more demanding, depending on whic teacher
“I always thought it was reasonable. In addition to classes, I managed to carry on with my own street art workload, and various other shenanigans while maintaining a healthy GPA.”
“That's a difficult question. Foundation year was a shock as far as work
load, but it was also a big adjustment: the city can be a hard place to adapt to, so freshman year was its own species of difficult. But, workload! Sophomore year is totally more work, in my opinion. Maybe because I’m more into it, so I’m working harder? I also think it depends on the professor since some don’t give much work at all, while some give three projects ‐ all
due on the same day.” Samantha Perlman
work load was pretty even throughout all the classes.
The way that I managed my work wasn’t complicated:
Background artwork by Sophia Chang
Sometimes I wish that there was better communication between the professors and the administration. It certainly seems that sometimes the curriculum gets altered semester to semester even though the vast majority of the faculty does not agree with the change.
Communication/advisors. There is so much happening at the school that you just donâ€™t hear about. They have great people coming to the school and talking all the time, but unless you run into a flyer in the hallway, you usually miss them. Further, there is a lot of great scholarships/competitions that go through the school that they just donâ€™t advertise. For instance, there was recently a call for submissions to the Society of Illustrators student show. They emailed us about this event 2 DAYS before the deadline. The administration knew about this for months, yet they didnâ€™t inform the students about it until 48 hours beforehand.
Some great teachers are Nathan Bond, Noel Claro, Nora Krug, and Josh Cochran. These are some great down-to-earth, laid back teachers, who are serious professionals but are normal people as well. They really show who they are as people and have a clear passion. - Sophia
So far I have really enjoyed Noel Claro for Typography, Alan Reingold for painting, and Les Kanturek for Sophomore Concepts, to name a few. - Ciara
For drawing or painting I suggest Alan Reingold. Heâ€™ s great at getting you accustomed to projects you might be asked to do in the real world. My painting project for him right now is to paint a label for a juice bottle, which is cool because thats a project that heâ€™s worked on. - Samantha
AJ Fosik Parsons Graduate 2003
Describe your work & Inspiration:
“Wood, paint, existential musings, and nails.”
Which classes did you appreciate the most and why?
“Any class where the professor could guide a really good critique session. Really, almost nothing matters more.”
What would you say about your professors? How helpful were they?
Did you feel as if they truly cared about how successful you were in, and after Parsons? “The professors shake out a lot like the students. The vast majority are average, there’s a few turds, and then there are the ones that shine and make the entire experience worthwhile. The few that mattered had a huge effect on me as I figured out who I was as an artist.”
Do you feel that the Illustration department nurtures growth and
Why did you choose Parsons over Cooper Union, FIT, or SVA? “Too hard, too fashiony, too lame, respectively.”
Do you feel confident that you learned as much as possible, and will come away with the resources necessary to start your own career?
“Ha! I’m not sure that’s possible. It was a good start.”
How did you manage your time? “I worked my ass off.
Parsons will definitely prepare you for working your ass off.”
How many hours spent on homework per class?
“I spent, on average, three hours on an assignment and a lot more if it was something I was into, and I always spent way more time than that on my personal work.”
Would you say that the facilities were adequate? “Everything except for that god damned elevator.”
If you tried to get an internship, how difficult was it? “I tried a few times to get internships and to be honest, I never had any success. My portfolio was too weird at the time. Every art director I took my portfolio to was into my work, but had no idea how to use it or how I would fit working for them. In retrospect, I should have just interned for a fine artist and not at design and advertising. I think in some ways I’m probably lucky none of those worked out.”
What do you think Illustration truly is? “Nobody knows. I have no idea. Illustration doesn’t really exist anymore,
there are more opportunities and more freedom to make a living doing art than ever before. I’ve been fortunate in that I have been able to develop my but
work on my own terms. Showing work in galleries has allowed me tremendous freedom and when I get approached by art directors for projects, I usually have almost no constraints.”
Nora Krug Associate Professor In the ILLUSTRATION PROGRAM
By Nora KRUG
NORA KRUG is an professor of the illustrationprogram. We were able to have a little chat and she gave us wonderful information about the activities done by the program.
“The most important, it’s a student who thinks about himself in relationship to the world. We are not looking for a person with exceptional skills or fabulous style, but someone able to explore and develop concepts about the world around him.”
Looking for the next genius artist but for a student who is ready to think, and develop their ideas. An important part of the illustration is narrative, you’ve got to be able to tell a story in picture By Nora KRUG and to give context to an image.
Narrative, make you explore different worlds and open your mind. It can give you the curiosity to explore differents classes such as toys design. THE UGLY DOLLS BY DAVID HORVATH
I went to Forbidden Planet a comic book store near Parsons. (A great book store for Illustration people that I highly recommend.) I saw these dolls, and I really loved them. Guess What ? During my chat with Nora I learned that David Horvath, who graduated from Parsons in Illustration is the creator of these lovely dolls... Small world, isnâ€™t it?! THE UGLY DOLLS BY DAVID HORVATH
We all have doubts about our future, however, this program helps us find ourselves by opening many possibilities that could help us discover who we are as artists. We canâ€™t stay stuck with our doubt and fear, we have to react and explore! The Illustration department offers us a lot of possibilities and themes where we can find ourselves: animation, editorial, children books, toys design, the list goes on! After this chat with Nora, Iâ€™m so excited to start the program. She explained that exploration was a big and important part of the program. When we think about it, we are going to school to learn, which helps us to find ourselves. In addition, Parsons has International involvement in event shows and festivals around the world. Such as Pitoplasma in Germany where the Illustration program, bring a few student to expose their work.
PICTOPLASMA, Festival Germany
“I think what’s interesting about Parsons is the fusion that we have between the schools: The New School for Jazz and Lang. When I was a student I would have liked to study visual arts as well as classes such as philosophy. The Lang program gives you an opportunity to do both.”
The Class of Visual Music
In this course, Parsons animation in the Illustration department works in collaborative teams with The New School of Jazz. They develop a way to work with music and art in the same time and creates shows. There are several classes like this in the Illustration program.
During our students interviews we asked for recommendations on teachers. NatahanBond was one of the recurring names recommended. We decided to interview him and give you an overview about his concepts, teachings and methods.
What are the skills that you are looking for in your students? NATHAN BOND:Creativity and an eagerness to learn. Personal motivation is one of the most important skills to have as a student, and an artist. Are the courses at parsons are more oriented on helping the student to develop a specific style or it's more about exploring students creativity? NB: Not so much a specific style as much as helping students find their own voice. This is often done through the exploration of their creativity, and then giving them the tools to be able to better express their voice. Your "style" will come to you if you don't go hunting it down. What types of projects do you usually do with your students? NB: There is always a component of technical drawing or painting, but I try to always find a way to let them bring their own ideas into each assignment if they want. How do you teach painting? I know this question is weird, but i'm very curious about it seems to me that painting is the hardest thing to teach . NB:Painting is pretty tricky to teach. Mostly because there is so much information to share. It gets overwhelming fast. I try to have assignments that build in their complexity as the semester progresses. If you go too fast, everyone drowns and gets turned off. I find that the best way for me to share my knowledge is to walk around the class the whole day watching the students paint. Learning how they paint and where they may be running it problems. There are a lot of technical things that can make your painting go south, and if someone can spot at what point you are going off course and help you avoid it before it is too late, you can go further with the experience and learn more int he act of painting each time.
“N.B. with African Passport Mask” Oil on paper, 14”x16.5”
Is your class more about theory or practice? NB:Practice, without a doubt. Theory is discussed to however. What advice would you give a student considering illustration for a career? NB:Learn how to do everything! The more gigs that you can say (with confidence) "Yes, I can do that", the more work you will have. Illustration is a varied field. I really like your sketchbook. Itâ€™s a mix of composition, research and drawing, could you give me any advice on working in a sketchbook NB:There are two pieces of advice that I would give about working in your sketchbook. First, work in it a lot and for anything you want. The second is to give yourself permission for your sketchbook to be where both the good and the bad drawings get to live. Never edit your sketchbook. If you can give yourself that permission, to not have to have everything look great, you will find that you will be more expressive, honest, and oddly have better drawings!
By Nathan Bond SketchBook
Through a partnership with Poketo, a design firm that specializes in limited edition art products, accessories, apparel, and decor, the Parsons Illustration department held a competition to create wallet designs. Entries were judged by Poketo founders, Angie Myung and Ted Vadakan, along with American Illustrationâ€™s Mark Heflin and the departmentâ€™s chair, Steven Guarnaccia. 60 entries were made. 6 were chosen as the final winners.
Stella Jiyeun Lee
Pictoplasma, a Berlin Festival works with international artists, directors, designers , animators, illustrators. Nora Krug usually takes a few students and travels to Germany. To get the chance to expose their work in the Festival. It sounds like a very exciting experience to meet all these artists, to build a network and learn how to show and talk about your work.
Pictoplasma Festival, Parsons Students
EPIFANÍA ALVARADO: Epifania was born and raised in New York City and currently lives in the Bronx. She has a lovely dog named Yurick, and she is extremely shy yet bad tempered. She fell in love with illustration and the idea of illustrated journals thanks to Drew Weing, Natazilla, James Kochlaka, & Craig Thompson. She really just wants to communicate with you visually. KRISTIN CHAE: From Queens, New York, Kristin enjoys drawing, painting, and reading. In her free time she likes to sit and talk with friends in coffee shops and cafes. She absolutely abhors flying animals, has a thing for nice telephone voices, and is a bit neurotic, but in a cute way.
ARIELLE JOVELLANOS: A commuter kid from Long Island who is named after that one Disney character with the fish tail She’s a major sucker for character animation with lots of inbetween frames, epic key changes in big, belty Broadway showtunes, and looking for hardcore symbolism in books. Her weapon of choice is a toss up between a Wacom tablet or Prismacolor Col-erases.
LEA MAIRET: international student from France. And actually in Fundation year and I hope that I’m going to see you next year.
Big thank youâ€™s, hugs, and high fives to the following: John & Julia Nathan Bond Iain Burke Sophia Chang Noel Claro AJ Fosik John Garcia Ciara Gay Nora Krug Samantha Perlman Alexander Smith
We never could have done it without you!