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Illuminate

Complex Visual Narratives.

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Find Your Own Voice

Think Critically, Invent Concepts, & Develop Your Style.

Illustration

At the core of every illustration, whether there is a story to be told, a problem to be solved, or a point of view to be expressed, the illustrator provides the vision.

Majors in the Illustration Program at MECA&D benefit from a low student to faculty ratio and guidance of award-winning professionals in the field. This makes for an intimate and intensive course of study that combines artistic rigor with real world experience. Our dedicated faculty of illustrators and artists bring their daily practice of business, craft, concept, and aesthetics to their teaching.

As an Illustration major, you will build upon technical abilities deeply rooted in fundamental artistic skills. From this base, you will learn to think critically, invent concepts, and develop a personal and unique style. In addition, you will study illustration history, theory, and professional practices: the business of illustration.

Spotlight

  • Faculty
  • Alumni
  • Student
  • Tyler Eldridge '18 (Illustration & Graphic Design)

    I’ve felt really challenged to hold myself true to this honesty when I’ve wanted to make something purely . . .

    Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. My work currently focuses on storytelling through referencing the past. Most of my characters are inspired from old found photographs of people during the early 1900’s. I love their clothing, haircuts, and expressions as they were captured during a time far before me. Some of . . .Read More

  • Rachel Breckinridge '18

    I look at my art through the eyes of a painter, a designer, and an art historian, not just of an illustrator.

    Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. A recent focus of mine is working on background and setting design. I find it easy for me to design figures, so I am challenging myself with making the focus on where the figure is and how they are interacting with the background. I am […]Read More

  • Sophie Cangelosi '16

    I love MECA in that it provides flexibility in each student’s own creative story.

    Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. I’ve experienced a lot of social anxiety for most of my life, so I respond more to body language and evidence of subconscious intentions rather than words. So, lately I’ve been really interested in the theme of receiving unsaid or unintentional messages. I’m working . . .Read More

  • Portland Museum of Art's 2018 Biennial

    Maine College of Art & Design shares deep roots with the Portland Museum of Art. In 1882, the Portland . . .

    Maine College of Art & Design shares deep roots with the Portland Museum of Art. In 1882, the Portland Society of Art was founded, which encompassed both the art school and the museum.Read More

  • Hannah Rosengren Moran '13

    Take a break to recuperate from the craziness of your final semester, but maintain the work ethic you . . .

    My path to becoming a freelance illustrator began when I made the decision to transfer from a liberal arts school in Massachusetts to an art school next to my hometown. I knew that I wanted to be self-employed but had no idea what that would look like until I learned about freelance work and the […]Read More

  • Sophie Cangelosi '16

    We are thrilled to announce that Sophie Cangelosi '16 had three images chosen to appear on American . . .

    We are thrilled to announce that Sophie Cangelosi '16 had three images chosen to appear on American Illustration's exclusive and juried online collection, Best Images of 2016. Over 10,000 entries were submitted — way to go, Sophie!Read More

  • Tessa O'Brien MFA '16, Sophie Cangelosi '16

    When Bayside Bowl expanded their bowling facilities, owner and former president of the Maine State Senate, . . .

    When Bayside Bowl expanded their bowling facilities, owner and former president of the Maine State Senate, Justin Alfond connected with Maine College of Art & Design. Said Alfond, "Bayside Bowl's expansion needed local flare and art. Jessica Tomlinson introduced me to a bunch of great artists." Alfond selected artists Tessa Greene . . .Read More

  • Lewis Rossignol '17

    Lewis Rossignol '17 was contracted by Dispatch Magazine to produce illustrations for featured stories ("Do . . .

    Lewis Rossignol '17 was contracted by Dispatch Magazine to produce illustrations for featured stories ("Do You Believe the Swipe?" and "Are You a Brand?") in the latest two issues. Lewis worked with Mark Fleming, the Visuals Editor of Dispatch Magazine, to fully conceptualize the illustrations for each article. When asked about the . . .Read More

  • Liz Long '14

    It was a thrilling challenge to pull an entire of body of work together to share with so many people.

    Describe a body of work that you have made. I recently had my first solo show, Keepsakes, at Vestibule 594 in Portland. I painted a series of illustrative acrylic paintings on wood panels and created a mural surrounding the series of work. It was a thrilling challenge to pull an entire of body of work […]Read More

  • MECA Students, Alums, Faculty

    Our Illustration students, alumni, faculty, and visiting artists include some of the most respected . . .

    This exhibition of contemporary illustration celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the publication of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, as well as marked the 10th anniversary of the Illustration Program at MECA&D. Over the past decade, the Illustration Program has attracted some extraordinary talent to the school. Our . . .Read More

  • Katie Ackley '15

    Illustration major Katie Ackley ’15 knew where she wanted to intern. She was a big fan of the designs of . . .

    Illustration major Katie Ackley ’15 knew where she wanted to intern. She was a big fan of the designs of Eliza Jane Curtis and wanted to learn more about Curtis’s business, Morris & Essex. In her proposal, she explained that the experience would help her gain the small-business skills and insight needed to launch her […]Read More

  • Daniel Minter in the PMA Biennal

    Maine artist Daniel Minter's deeply spiritual piece tells his personal story as well as an overarching . . .

    The following is sourced from an article in the Portland Press Herald, written by Bob Keyes. The artwork of Daniel Minter, Assistant Instructor of Illustration at MECA&D, is a study of memory and the many ways in which memory is embedded in our past, present, and future. Using archetypes, symbols, icons, and folklore steeped in the . . .Read More

  • Jamie Hogan

    A good illustration is a drawing that tells a story.

    MECA&D Adjunct Assistant Professor of Illustration Jamie Hogan has taught at MECA&D for over a decade. She also works as a professional illustrator, creating colorful pastel, charcoal and collage images for publishing, advertising and editorial clients. A member of the Maine Illustrators Collective, she is an active blogger who . . .Read More

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Outcomes

  • Formal

    Students acquire an understanding of the expressive nature of illustration in a variety of media. Students will learn how to communicate ideas visually, solve problems and think critically. Students will be able to develop techniques and skills to service content.

  • Conceptual

    Students generate a variety of assignments leading up to a self-directed body of work and articulate their work within a historical and contemporary context. Students gain competency and confidence in directing and executing their ideas while acquiring a working knowledge of the concepts and techniques of the illustrators who have made a significant contribution to this discipline and define its current practice.

  • Technical

    Students build upon many types of drawing skills including figure, observational, representational, conceptual, and sketching.
    Students are able to explore with a variety of tools, mediums, basic and advanced techniques, and digital techniques. Experimentation is encouraged. Students develop an understanding of the nature of taking risks with their work and their relationship to it.

  • Professional

    Students gain confidence and are provided with the opportunity to seek out professionals in the field for opportunities of work and internships. Students gain an understanding of how to pursue clients, price work, and run a freelance business as an illustrator. They have a sense of the contemporary illustration market and the breadth of skills needed to be successful in this field.

FAQs

  • What are some of the career paths for someone who majors in Illustration?

    Illustrators work for a variety of printed matter and publications, screen based, and product lines. Examples include, childrens’ books, graphic novels, comics, book covers, magazines, newspapers, posters, maps, charts, websites, apps, concept art, toys, and games.

  • How do you prepare your students for the real world?

    Our professors are all working in various illustration fields, often multi-disciplinary in their methods and careers, so our students are exposed to a variety of venues. Students engage with illustrators through studio visits, field trips, portfolio reviews, and are encouraged to network. Our professors are current in their experiences and offer up--to-date information through class discussion, critiques, reviews, and one on one conversations. Fourth year Illustration majors are required to take Professional Studio in which they obtain additional information about business practices, networking, and visual promotion.

  • What are some examples of what your alums are doing?

    Our illustration alum are working as freelance illustrators creating illustrations for books, magazines, logos, posters, wine labels, CD covers, and storefronts. They are full time art directors in agencies and employed in game companies and animation studios. Students work and show in galleries, as well as create products to sell online and in shops.

  • What are the prerequisites to major in Illustration?

    Students must have all of the Foundation requirements, including Liberal Arts, Art History, and have taken at least one elective illustration course.

  • What unique skills do your students get?

    Students work independently with faculty to develop their individual abilities. Deep research skills are fostered so that students are dextrous in working on any assignment about any subject. Our students acquire the traditional and digital skills necessary to build a portfolio that reflects their talents, versatility, and interests.

  • Will I be able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as an Illustration major?

    Students are encouraged to explore any media or incorporate any interests into their work so they can better define what kind of illustrator they wish to be. Students are welcome to take electives outside the major to build upon and support their diverse curiosities.

  • What are some of the classes that are offered in your department?

    Our electives include: Picturebook, Editorial Illustration, Experimental Illustration, Narrative, Graphic Novel/Sequential, Character Design, Motion Graphics, Hand Lettering, Advanced Techniques, and Advanced Techniques in Pen and Ink.

  • What are some of the unique aspects of this program?

    The one-on-one attention faculty offer the students is exemplary and shows the dedication and care of faculty to address and support student's needs on an ongoing basis. Faculty work to keep what they teach relevant, and present their own current experiences so students can hear what is happening in the field. Faculty emphasizes the need for a practice that includes editing and refinement, research and informed solutions, and ways to incorporate a student's interests as well as individuality. Students are supported in developing their ability to articulate their work and process, so that they can discuss projects with future clients, and develop a strong sense of self while remaining flexible with a given assignment, as well as find solutions that go above and beyond the obvious choices.

  • What are the faculty like?

    Our faculty are a diverse group with multiple talents and interests which bring a wide variety of teaching potential for a vast range of students. Our faculty is engaged, dedicated, and kind. Oh, and sometimes, silly.

  • What are your facilities like?

    Our illustration studio has brand new individual working stations designed and constructed by MECA’s Woodworking facility. Our studio shares a large combined space with Graphic Design. In the studio, students also have access to digital equipment - computers, Cintiques, scanners, copiers, and printers.

  • What are some examples of internships your students have done in the past?

    Internships have included: Hasbro Toys, Curious City, The Via Agency, Illustration Institute, Hugh McCormack Design, Andres Vera Martinez illustration studio, Ben Bishop studio.

  • How many students (juniors and seniors) do you typically have in your major?

    The illustration program typically has 25 - 35 majors.

Program

Preparation (1st & 2nd Year)
Technique based electives:
Intro to Ink IL (104), Methods and Media in Illustration (IL 110), Portrait Drawing in Illustration (IL 107) followed by Illustration in Context (IL 212)

Junior Year (3rd Year)
Illustration Majors Studio (IL 321),
Illustration Majors Studio (IL 322),
Introduction To The Discipline: Illustration (IL 351) and SEM 352-3-4
(2) Approved Studio Electives

Senior Year (4th Year)
Illustration Majors Studio (IL 421),
Illustration Majors Studio (IL 423),
(3) Approved Studio Electives

  • I’m constantly surprised at our professors when I realize that they are as big as they are. It validates what I’m learning here because I feel like I’m really getting the best that the art world can offer.

    Peter Rimkunas  2013  //  Illustration  //  Gorham, ME

What do our alumni do?

Statistics from the 2015 Strategic National Arts Alumni project (SNAAP)

Did you know?

55% is the national average for arts alumni that work as professional artists.

45% is the national average for arts alumni that are self employed, independent contractors, or freelance workers.

63

Work as professional artists

23

Work as graphic designers, illustrators, or art directors

16

Founded a business

23

Work as craft artists

38

Work as fine artists

29

Work as art teachers

40

Pursued an MFA after graduation

47

Are self-employed, independent contractors or freelance workers

91

Make art in their personal time

57

Graduation Rate

88

Transfer Graduation Rate

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