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Illuminate

Complex Visual Narratives.

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Find Your Own Voice

Think Critically, Invent Concepts, & Develop Your Style.

Illustration

Majoring in Illustration at MECA is an intimate and intensive course of study that combines artistic rigor with real work experience.

Majors in the Illustration Program at MECA 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 work experience. Our professors are distinguished professional illustrators and artists who bring their daily practice of business, craft, and aesthetics to their teaching. As an Illustration major, you will develop technical abilities solidly rooted in drawing skills. From this base, you will learn to invent concepts, think critically, and develop a unique and personal style. In addition, you will study illustration history, theory, and professional practices: the business of illustration.

Being able to express thoughts and ideas through drawing is the greatest skill of an illustrator. At the core of every illustration lives context and narrative. Whether in books or comics, magazines or advertising, animation or games, when 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.

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

  • 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. 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 . . .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 . . .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. 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

  • Scott Nash

    We have a very gregarious cultural community here. I see MECA as being the keystone of that.

    ON HIS ART: Working in pen and ink feels utterly natural to me. I love the feel of the pen scratching on paper, the spring of the quill, the flow of the ink. My journals are portable workshops where I craft the pictures, words and ideas that eventually turn into books. Illustrated books are a […]Read More

  • Jamie Hogan

    A good illustration is a drawing that tells a story.

    MECA Adjunct Assistant Professor of Illustration Jamie Hogan has taught at MECA 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 beautifully . . .Read More

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Outcomes

  • Formal

    Students will gain 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 acquire knowledge about the history of illustration, contemporary theories and practice, and relevant critical language. 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 working for potential clients as well as directing and executing their ideas, and being aware of contemporary illustrators who continue to define the discipline. Through research and imitation, they acquire 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 gain competency in drawing skills including anatomy and figure, and representational and abstract. Students are able to explore with a variety of mediums and tools in 2D and 3D, such as pen and ink, paint, computer, clay, collage, pastel, and scratchboard. Experimentation is encouraged. Students develop an understanding of the nature of taking risks with their work and their relationship to it. They become experts in drawing, with familiarity in many types of drawing: systems drawing, perspective, visual conceits, process, sketching (tracing, thumbnails, roughs), observational drawing (life forms, objects, space), and conceptual drawing.

  • Professional

    Students write an artist statement and professional resume, create a website to promote their work, design and print a postcard for mailing, and develop a client list of which they send sample work. Students develop the ability to document their work digitally. Students gain confidence and are provided with the opportunity to meet with and seek out professionals in the field for opportunities of work and internships. Students gain an understanding of how to seek 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. Students gain an awareness of the transferability and versatility of their education into the related fields of graphic design, art direction, pre-press, publishing and all areas of the fine and graphic arts.

FAQs

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

    Illustrators do work for a variety of printed matter and publications, digital outlets such as websites, blogs, newspapers, catalogues, brochures, professional journals, maps, charts, information design, graphic design, children's, tween's and teen's books, book covers, CD and album covers, skateboard and snow board decks, animation, graphic novels, posters, banners, and displays.

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

    Our professors are all working in various fields, often multi-disciplinary in their methods and careers, so our students are exposed to venues from games and video markets to the gallery scene, from comic books and graphic novels to toy design to concept art and more. Students engage with illustrators, graphic designers, and other artists in the profession though studio visits, reviews, and other ways in which they are encouraged to network, discuss process, practice, and the fields they are interested in, and our professors are current in their experiences and knowledge of what is needed, expected, and required, and offer up--to-date information in the Majors Studio classes, during crits, reviews, portfolio reviews, private conversations, and mentoring sessions. Students are required to take Professional Studio in which as seniors they obtain additional information about business practices, networking, and visual promotion.

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

    Some of our students and alums are publishing magazines, studying art education to work with student 1-12th grade, selling work through online stores, freelancing for design, animation, and other kinds of studios, working as staff in a design or animation studio, exhibiting in galleries, producing art for books, children's book projects, CD covers for musicians, and creating tee shirt designs.

  • What are the prerequisites to major in Illustration?

    Students must have all of the Foundation requirements, including Liberal Arts, Art History, Drawing and elective requirements, as well as Illustration 204 and 206 taken in Second Year at Maine College of Art.

  • What unique skills do your students get?

    Students develop a set of skills to suit their interest in specific aspects of the field which might include traditional and or digital media and methods. Many students work independently with faculty to develop and hone skills such as painting or sculpting in clay. Our students often work on site at various locations exterior and interior, or with a model in clothing to develop strategies for gathering research and observational skills needed to illustrate the figure in a specific location. Our students develop research skills so they are dextrous in working on any assignment about any subject. Our students have enough digital and traditional skills to build a portfolio that reflects their talents, interests, and versatility.

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

    Students are encouraged to incorporate any interests and media into their work as an illustrator, so they can better define what kind of illustrator they wish to be. They become more engaged with the practices of the discipline if their particular curiosities and passions are invited to flourish and contribute to the group's diversity and expansion as well. Students teach and influence one another.

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

    Picture Book, Graphic Novel, and Digital Illustration.

  • 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. Our faculty are willing to look at what student's needs and wants are, how they change with technology and trends of the market, and adjust teaching and course development when possible. Faculty work to keep what they teach relevant, and present their own current experiences so students can hear what is happening in the field, and exposure to outside professionals adds to this. Students work with one another and individually, and gain the capacity to work in both ways. Faculty emphasize and have students experience the need for a process that builds in ongoing editing and refinement, research and informed solutions, and ways to incorporate a student's interests, passions, and questions. Students are supported in developing their ability to articulate their work and process, so that can discuss projects with clients in the future, and develop a strong sense of self while remaining flexible with a given assignment, and the ability to make needed changes to work, and 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 abilities and supports for a range of students.

  • What are your facilities like?

    We have digital labs along with individual studio areas in a large combined space where the Majors intermingle with Majors from four departments; there is overlap, mixed dialogue, and the real-world fee of a studio. Some of the illustrators who paint are able to use painting studios as well. We have computers, scanner/printer, lightbox, Wacom tablets, Xerox machine, and access to photo equipment.

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

    Students have interned with Illustration/Animation studios such as Scott Nash's studio here in Portland.

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

    Generally about 12 Juniors and 12-15 Seniors.

Program

Preparation (1st & 2nd Year)
Introduction to Drawing (DR 100) and (1) DR Studio Elective or Basic Concepts in Illustration (IL 101); followed by Illustration I (IL 204) and Illustration II (IL 206)

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 and (2) Approved Studio Electives

Senior Year (4th Year)
Illustration Majors Studio (IL 421), Illustration Majors Studio (IL 423), SEM 451, SEM 452, and (2) Approved Studio Electives

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  • 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

17

Pursued an MFA after graduation

47

Are self-employed, independent contractors or freelance workers

91

Make art in their personal time

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