“We live in a culture in which text and images are constantly blended together in different combinations,” says Ben Katchor, a master of the illustrated narrative medium who teaches in the Illustration program. “Artists today find it exciting to be the ‘director’ of the whole production. Writers are not willing to sit on their hands and wait for their work to be illustrated. They want to be involved in all aspects of the creative process and not feel they are part of an assembly line.”
Katchor’s course offerings are typically open to all students at The New School. Anthropologists might take Picture Story Workshop as a way of sharpening their observational skills, while artists might take the same course to fine-tune their sense of narrative. In Jazz and Animation Collaborative, composers work with animators and illustrators to create 15-minute musical pieces with visual accompaniment.
“Parsons is an art school within a university, and this is a great advantage to the students,” explains Katchor. “It makes them aware of their relation to the rest of the culture, so their work doesn’t run the risk of becoming too self-referential. In the real world, picture makers work with composers. Someone who is interested in urban design might connect with an illustrator. These kinds of collaborations happen all the time at Parsons, and it’s a truer reflection of the professional world.”