Illustration

Undergraduate

  • BFA | 4-year program

    Through a broad and diverse range of course offerings, Illustration majors engage in a largely self-directed exploration of media as they gain a solid understanding of contemporary themes and concepts. Faculty insist upon keen observation and strong conceptual thinking combined with the mastery of manual skills and techniques needed to convey ideas in a compelling manner.

  • Learning Outcomes

    Graduates are prepared to:

    • display in their work the maturation of both artistic voice and original thought as evidenced in the confluence of formal, conceptual and technical concerns

    • articulate knowledge of art historical precedents and their significance to creating contemporary images 

    • demonstrate an ability to strengthen meaning by connecting with broader subjective concerns in the viewer's imagination through metaphor, pointed ambiguity and cultural references

    • develop insight and criticality in the interpretation and evaluation of visual communication of a broad range of works, with an eye toward civic responsibility and an investment in the important cultural dialogue that is unique to illustration

    • demonstrate this artistic consciousness through their own intelligent and sensitive use of symbolism, representations and vernacular in crafting images

  • Inspiring Community

    As RISD's largest major, Illustration is home to approximately 300 undergraduates with a diverse range of skills and interests. This, combined with a large and eclectic group of full- and part-time faculty mentors, leads to dynamic discussions in studios and other workspaces, along with a fruitful cross-pollination of ideas among students at all levels of study. Each year a full roster of visiting artists and art directors provide outside perspective on various aspects of the profession. Distinguished professionals from around the country also offer valuable feedback through annual portfolio reviews.

  • Learning Environment

    From painting with pure egg-yolk tempera to creating 3D imagery for computer gaming, students in Illustration work across the full spectrum of media. They also hone conceptual and image-making skills through electives focused on virtually every professional application imaginable. Faculty with experience in specific fields offer courses on book and web design, editorial illustration, comics, caricature, picture books, graphic novels and much more.

  • Curriculum

    In the first year of the program, sophomores focus on developing both creative intelligence and technical facility. Courses in illustrative problem solving help nurture original thinking and conceptual clarity, while classes in drawing and painting strengthen basic image-making skills. Juniors choose among a broad range of electives in both traditional and digital media, along with image formulation for specific professional applications. Professional internships and independent study projects are also encouraged.

    Foundation Studies

    • Fall
    • Drawing I
    • Design I
    • Spatial Dynamics I
    • Liberal Arts courses
    • Wintersession
    • Non-major studio elective
    • Spring
    • Drawing II
    • Design II
    • Spatial Dynamics II
    • Liberal Arts courses

    Sophomore

    • Fall
    • Drawing
    • Painting
    • Illustration I
    • Liberal Arts elective
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Drawing
    • Painting
    • Illustration II
    • Non-major elective
    • Liberal Arts elective

    Junior

    • Fall
    • Illustration elective
    • Computer literacy requirement
    • Non-major elective
    • Liberal Arts elective
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Illustration electives
    • Illustration Concepts I
    • Liberal Arts elective

    Senior

    • Fall
    • Illustration electives
    • Non-major elective
    • Liberal Arts elective
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Illustration electives
    • Liberal Arts elective

  • Degree Project

    During the final year, seniors work to define a distinctive artistic voice while honing their portfolio and professional presentation skills. They also complete a final body of work and mount a public exhibition in the Illustration Gallery.

  • Application Requirements

    All freshman applicants apply to RISD as opposed to a specific department and begin with a required year of Experimental and Foundation Studies. Students select a major midway through the first year but don’t begin those programs until sophomore year.

    For more information or to begin the application process, visit the Apply page.