School within a School
The Illustration program is located in the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) alongside Communication Design, Data Visualization, Design and Technology, Fine Arts, and Photography. Each program in AMT has its own culture but works with the others, uniting the school to prepare students to become not only successful but leading illustrators.
Liberal Arts Inquiry
By enrolling in art and design history and theory courses as well as related studio classes, students acquire essential research, writing, and critical reasoning skills while developing conceptual foundations for creative inquiry. Because Parsons is part of The New School, students can choose from a wide range of lecture courses and electives in the humanities, the social sciences, media studies, and business.
Innovative classes with other AMT programs, Parsons schools, and New School divisions reflect the expanding field of illustration. Visual Music, a class offered jointly by Parsons and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, enables teams of students to compose music to be accompanied by live or recorded moving imagery. Visual Politics, a collaboration between Parsons and The New School for Social Research, brings together students from a wide range of programs to analyze the rhetoric and imagery of politically charged topics.
Many illustration classes are project-driven and involve close working relationships with industry partners. In addition to projects that are built into classwork, internships at businesses and institutions such as the Jim Henson Foundation, MTV, DC Comics, the American Museum of Natural History, Nickelodeon, and the New Yorker afford students chances to work in real-world settings.
Some past industry partnerships:
- Brooklyn Industries produced and marketed t-shirts adorned with illustrations from Parsons.
- Furniture retailer Design Within Reach collaborated with students to reconfigure designer chairs.
- Electronic Arts challenged students to reinvent the popular video game The Sims. The results were exhibited at the Chelsea Art Museum.
- Students created original advertisements for Metro New York newspaper, which ran in the New York Times.
- Moleskine tapped students to document their urban experiences in their City Guide: New York notebook.
- Student-illustrated issues of illywords, an arts journal created by the illy coffee company, were distributed internationally.
- Students’ illustrations were printed on products for Barnes & Noble.
The Illustration program hosts an annual symposium that presents the work and perspectives of illustrators and critics working in a variety of media around the world, such as Rutu Modan, Luba Lukova, Kim and Gene Deitch, Richard McGuire, and Steven Heller. Other visiting lecturers have included Marshall Arisman, Adrian Tomine, Sue Coe, and Leo and Diane Dillon. Students also connect to New York–based professional organizations such as American Illustration and The Society of Illustrators, which host competitions and industry events that bring acclaimed art directors, illustrators, and publishing professionals to New York City and the Parsons campus.
A World of Research
The program regularly participates in internationally recognized festivals and conferences. Ongoing collaborations with Pictoplasma, the European illustration and character design convention, recently led to a gallery show in Berlin of student work from a toy concept and design class. In addition, Parsons collaborated with schools in Japan, Germany, and France on Hi-Q, an illustrated haiku project, and Parsons students traveled to Italy as part of the Bologna Book Fair.