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Best schools for an Illustration Major

caressemhcaressemh Posts: 235Registered User Junior Member
Hi, I am currently a high school senior and have spent hours upon hours visiting and researching and visiting colleges. I want to major in illustration, but have an interest in a broad range of art, including the traditional drawing/painting disciplines as well as graphic design and digital art. The schools I have visited are: SCAD, SAIC, Pratt, SVU, Ringling and Parsons. And I am very interested in MICA. I went to Ringling for PreCollege and had a very positive experience, although I have decided not to apply as Sarasota is not my ideal location for going to college. It is, imho, to far removed from any major arts industry locations. Of course nowhere can compare to NYC, but I am still seriously considering Chicago and Baltimore.

Basically, I just wanted to hear the opinions of those of you who are/have been students at any major arts school, or have children who have attended... keep in mind I care most about the illustration department. Like I said, my major interests are SVA and SAIC. I know about SAIC's prestige so I'd really like to hear about SVA... some of the reports on the online review sites do not look too promising, but those are from such a small pool of reviewers that I take them with a grain of salt. The overall feeling I got from visiting SVA was positive and energetic, which I like. I liked Pratt but they definitely had more of an institutional feel to me.

I have high test scores (33 ACT, 2040 SAT), GPA (3.9), and portfolio (has already been accepted by SAIC via personal review, MICA via portfolio day, and Ringling via precollege. The critique I get is mostly to work on personal style. I have a strong representation of observational work so it is the creative vision that I need to work on. It is the educational quality and overall experience of these schools that I am concerned about. I care about liberal arts emphasis as well.

Incidentally, my experience at Parsons was very negative; the whole admissions staff was very rude and not inclined to helping us. Basically telling them that we came all the way from TN to visit was the only way to get any decent assistance (btw, we had made reservations with them MONTHS prior to visiting.) In the end, we sort of gave up and spent our remaining time in NYC with SVA and Pratt.

Sorry my post is so long!! Just any general imput is appreciated! I'm open to anything. Regardless I am applying to SVA, Pratt, Parsons, SAIC and MICA. Despite being from rural TN I'd say I'm pretty streetsmart (both parents have lived in big cities like Wash. DC, Boston, and some in Europe) and don't get into trouble (not a drinker or partyer), so crime isn't a huge concern. I realize that it will be an issue in any major city and is mainly up to my personal decisions and competence in order to avoid it.
Post edited by caressemh on

Replies to: Best schools for an Illustration Major

  • caressemhcaressemh Posts: 235Registered User Junior Member
    Oh btw I know about RISD's quality as an art school. One of my best friends went there for PreCollege and loved it. I have considered them but just can't afford the tuition. I know most of the NYC schools are just as expensive but they seem to offer more scholarship. I may be wrong though.
  • unsoccer-momunsoccer-mom Posts: 562Registered User Junior Member
    SVA is quite strong for illustration and with your stats you will be in a good position to get a scholarship. While the tuition may be less expensive than RISD the room costs are sky high. There is no food plan to speak of and in general living in NYC is more expensive than one can even imagine. With your stats you should throw in some University programs such as WUSTL and Carnegie Mellon. SMFA is more fine arts based but has a 5 year double major program with Tuft's that would could end up with some good merit/FA. I hear that Boston University has a good program. And finally, again more fine arts based and a total long shot for anyone is Cooper Union in NYC. The tuition is free to accepted students.
  • caressemhcaressemh Posts: 235Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks unsoccer-mom! If I go to SVA I plan on applying to the honors program. I considered Cooper Union but after meeting with them at National Portfolio Day they told me that they didn't teach Illustration, and as far as the review went they told me my work was too tight and "illustrationy." I think they are definitely a more fine arts-oriented school and probably wouldn't be a good fit... unfortunately :(
  • unsoccer-momunsoccer-mom Posts: 562Registered User Junior Member
    My daughter is in the honors program at SVA and recieved the Silas Rhodes Scholarship. If you have questions I will try to answer them for you.
  • meandmyboysmeandmyboys Posts: 31Registered User Junior Member
    Before you rule out any schools based on the cost, you may want to apply and see what scholarships you are offered. We heard the same thing about RISD and yet when all the scholarships were awarded and all the costs were considered, RISD ended up being far less than SVA and about the same as Pratt. He was thrilled and is loving his first year at RISD!
  • m&sdadm&sdad Posts: 1,201Registered User Member
    MICA also offers decent merit and need based scholarships. D is a sophomore there. Half of her total costs are covered via merit.
  • caressemhcaressemh Posts: 235Registered User Junior Member
    I am definitely going to apply to MICA. I might still apply to RISD, I wish I hadn't sent in the $50 application to Parsons before I had such a negative experience with them :(

    unsoccer-mom, what all does the Silas Rhodes scholarship entail? I read about it in SVA'S catalog but it's kind of vague. What kind of work did she send in? Also, I know that the honors program involves more academics, right? So how does the workload compare to those students in the regular program? Please don't tell me there's more math! lol
  • unsoccer-momunsoccer-mom Posts: 562Registered User Junior Member
    No math at all. The workload for the illustration major is pretty intense to begin with...I remember she had a lot of reading and papers during the first year for honors. It hasn't seemed so bad since then. The Silas Rhodes scholarship is awarded on the basis of your portfolio, however, I think the academics are also given strong consideration. There is a separate application, I believe, and the amount is $10k per year for 4 years.
  • scoopscoop Posts: 51Registered User Junior Member
    Hi, It has been a long time since I checked these threads. D attended SVA precollege this summer (she is now a junior) and feels that her number 1 choice of school is SVA. Unsoccer-mom, is your daughter enjoying the program? Any particular issues I should be aware of? I have been trying to find some university programs with an illustration major just to round out the types of schools she will apply to. CMU and WUSTL don't seem to focus on illustration, more the graphic design field. Syracuse and RIT feel too large (and too cold in temperature) to her. Though I have told her that you can get the feel of a smaller school based on which program you are in, the typical sports oriented, large campus does not appeal to her. We toured UCONN, our state school, which has a good program. She said she felt like she would be living in a bubble for four years as there really is nothing nearby campus. She seems to like the 'real world' feel of New York and said she is not bothered by the lack of a campus. Best of luck to all of you still in the application process.
  • vlarrick@yahoo.cvlarrick@yahoo.c Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    My son has been accepted to SVA and San Francisco ARt Intstitute. His major would be fine arts. Any opinions? Which has a stronger program?
  • taxguytaxguy Posts: 6,621Registered User Senior Member
    Syracuse is VERY strong in illustration and has some nationally reknown illustrators. Any decent art school probably has good illustration programs such as RISD, MICA, Pratt,SVA et. al.
  • LinzoyLinzoy Posts: 166Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks unsoccer-mom! If I go to SVA I plan on applying to the honors program. I considered Cooper Union but after meeting with them at National Portfolio Day they told me that they didn't teach Illustration, and as far as the review went they told me my work was too tight and "illustrationy." I think they are definitely a more fine arts-oriented school and probably wouldn't be a good fit... unfortunately
    Hahaha. Oh my god. They actually told you your art was too "illustrationy?" Cooper Union is a strange cult like school. They prefer students who have more undeveloped talent than students who already have a voice, because the undeveloped ones are easier to control. And I'm not just saying that because I was rejected.

    Even if you've already chosen illustration, your intentions are still pretty vague. At some point you have to think about if you want to do book covers, comics, animation, concept art, or what. Like if you already know you want to go comics, you might want to go to a school made for training comic book artists. It sounds like you're not too interested in more generalized education (like cooper union).
  • OdyismOdyism Posts: 22Registered User New Member
    I wouldn't completely disregard Parsons.
    I took a course there at their Pre-College Academy and it was a great experience. The only thing is that Parsons illustration seems a bit weak compared to their Fashion Design + Communication Design depratments. Then again I should expect that since it's Parsons The New School for Design :P

    I've been researching schools and their illustration departments since my Junior year, and Ringling, SVA, RISD, and MICA seem the most promising. I could go on forever about why their good choices, but I "the proof is in the pudding". Just take a look at artwork from students, and you'll get a relative gauge of the school's education level.
  • scoopscoop Posts: 51Registered User Junior Member
    taxguy, Some time ago I read your review of Syracuse. One of the negatives that you mentioned was the fact that art/design students were going to be shuttled to an area off campus for their classes. Have you heard any more about how this is going? I worry about kids coming back froms studio work late at night and if getting to and from the other location interferes with their liberal arts classes.
  • taxguytaxguy Posts: 6,621Registered User Senior Member
    Scoop, You have a good memory. Actually what I said was that. "If you are majoring in visual communication, advertising design or architecture," you will be taking your upper level courses away from the campus and will need to take a bus there.

    If she is majoring in illustration, I believe this will not be moved downtown. It is certainly worth a call to the school to confirm this.
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