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  • As a creative discipline Illustration at RISD is broadly defined — by purpose, not media. While illustrators employ the same tools used in painting, photography, film, graphic design and other disciplines, they make imagery with the intent of conveying specific meaning and messages.

  • Degree Program

    • BFA
    • 4-year undergraduate program
  • Whether painting at the easel, drawing on a computer screen or making 3D characters, Illustration majors learn to master the skills and techniques needed for effective visual storytelling.

  • Free Marseille | junior

    "I transferred to RISD as a sophomore looking for a more rigorous program — and I immediately found that. It was scary to transfer but I’m happy with my choice because it definitely brought my work to a new level and also raised my capacity to produce. My professors motivate me to do my best and that’s something I was looking for — teachers who are also mentors. It’s nice to be friends with them and really look up to them at the same time."

  • Robert Brinkerhoff | professor

    "In our department we're concerned with the poetry of ideas and images, meaning we try to encourage the most poetic, eloquent and appropriate solutions to visual communications problems. Since the tools and media illustrators use are constantly evolving, our objective is to offer a broad-based curriculum aimed at coaxing from our students really dynamic and evocative message-making."

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  • In mastering the ability to draw and paint powerful, meaningful images, students graduate ready to write and illustrate books, create surface designs for products, work in web or game design, become an animator or character designer and communicate concepts through one of many other creative paths open to Illustration majors.

  • Alumni at Work

    Julia Rothman BFA 02 | author/designer/illustrator

    Working out of her studio in Brooklyn, NY, Julia Rothman combines disparate interests into a career of her own making. She freelances as an illustrator and pattern designer, creating products, designs and branding for clients ranging from Anthropologie to Crate & Barrel, The New York Times, Urban Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret. In addition, Rothman runs the design studio Also with two RISD friends, and based on her lifelong love of books, writes a book blog and has published three book projects of her own: Drawn In, The Exquisite Book and Farm Anatomy.

    Shepard Fairey BFA 92 | artist/activist

    For more than 20 years, Shepard Fairey has critiqued and shaped popular culture through guerrilla art campaigns of global proportions. Now, he’s a fine artist, graphic designer, commercial artist and entrepreneur best known for his ubiquitous 2008 Hope poster of Barack Obama. His image of the president is in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and led to a commission for the cover of TIME magazine. For the last decade, Fairey has also been working in the commercial realm through his LA-based creative agency Studio Number One.

    Jarrett Krosoczka BFA 99 | children’s book author/illustrator

    Author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka has been passionate about storytelling through words and pictures since he was a kid. He has written 20 published books, including the Lunch Lady series, which has won two Children’s Choice Book Awards and was featured on National Public Radio. His TED Talk, which chronicles his journey from boy to artist, has been viewed more than a half-million times, and his Punk Farm and Lunch Lady series are currently in development as feature films.

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