RISD’s MFA in Illustration encourages experienced visual communicators to reflect on the illustrator’s role as an influential social actor—within the profession and in the world. As they progress through the program, students learn to turn illustration practice to the good of society and transformation of the field.

Informed by RISD’s overall mission and values, the Illustration MFA is based on a set of core beliefs about illustration practice and advanced study in the field. Faculty in the program proactively promote these values through teaching, mentorship and practice within studio and classroom spaces that are safe, inclusive and positive for all students:

  • The development of personal vision and approaches to practice empowers illustrators to engage with critical social issues and contribute to the greater good.
  • Embracing experimental and culturally diverse methods equips illustrators to push the field in positive new directions.
  • Focused scholarship and the artist’s ability to brave uncertainty are key to true experimentation and the production of new knowledge.
  • Meaningful engagement with modes of publication and emerging and evolving technologies demands reflection on the interests they serve and their impact across diverse populations.
  • Studio practice should advance principles of social equity and inclusion, environmental justice, and equal access to resources and opportunities.

Illustrations by

Polly Becker, Robert Brinkerhoff, Calef Brown, Susan Doyle, Jaleen Grove, Xander Marrow, Eric Telfort