New Subway Posters for SVA

Our chair, Marshall Arisman, just completed a series of three subway posters for the School of Visual Arts.  They are magnificent.  You can reada blog story on the SVA site here:

To view a short film Marshall made about the posters go here:

Moonsub Shin says Goodbye.

Moonsub Shin, recent graduate from the Class of 2014 moved out of the studios along with his classmates in mid-July.  As parting gift he dropped off these custom t-shirts for each of the MFA Illustration faculty and administration.  Teachers - can you find yourselves?






Thank you Moonsub!  We are going to miss you.



This past July Marshall Arisman went to the ICON 8 Illustration Conference in Portland.  He gave a presentation titled Illustration as an Art Form.  A version of his talk can be found here:

The MFA Illustration as Visual Essay was well represented with an abundance of alums in attendance. 












The Art Wall Project

Ralph Lauren approached the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program last fall requesting a list of our emerging alumni.  The project was to create art for the entire façade of their new Denim & Supply store on 12th Street and University Place in New York City.   Aside from the façade the artist would install their work in the store as well as the windows.  They would design two t-shirts specifically for the event.  The profit would go to the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay scholarship fund.   We sent Ralph Lauren over 30 names and websites of our alumni.  They chose Jonathan Bartlett.    We hired Nada Ray to create a video about the event.  Here are stills from the film shoot as well as a link to the film itself.

 All photograph courtesy of Nada Ray.

Last Train To Paris

Our writing instructor, Michele Zackheim published her most recently novel in January.  It continues to receive high praise.  Michele was recently on Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss her book.  

A link to the interview can be found here:

If you are in the New York area don’t miss Vanessa Redgrave reading excerpts from the book.

Monday, June 23rd at 8PM
McNally Jackson Books on Prince Street in Soho.
Michele will introduce her.  Kent Carroll of Europa Editions will also be on hand. 

School of Visual Arts Commencement Day - May 15, 2014

Graduation Day is always full of mixed emotions - great joy and celebration for our graduating students as well as melancholy feelings as they finish the program. 

Great Times

The reception for the Thesis Show for the Class of 2014 was held on May 13th.  Great work celebrated on a beautiful New York City evening. 

A Look Back

It’s been over a month since we installed the thesis show for the Class of 2014.  And sadly that show has already come down.   Here’s at look back at our installation day. 


Second-year Laura Tibaquirá talks about her work.


1. Please tell us about your background and how you got here.

I was born and raised in Bogotá-Colombia. Since very little, I decided I wanted to be a fine artist and the idea stayed with me for a long time, but right before graduating high school I realized I was very interested in other things besides drawing like in graphic design and animation.

 For that reason I chose to study the visual arts. This career allowed me to try every thing I was interested in. I learned a lot of techniques and mediums to create images like oil painting, etching and silkscreen. I also gained some knowledge in graphic design, sculpture and web creation. It even helped me realize that I actually don´t like animation at all.

 The best part of my undergrad was learning about illustration, I didn´t know what it was before. After two Illustration classes I was pretty sure that wanted to become an illustrator. I felt the need to continue learning about illustration after graduated so decided to apply to this program.



2. Can you tell us about your experience of being an international student in NYC? What were the challenges and what were the factors that helped you adjust?

When I first went to SVA to meet my classmates and teacher had a big realization: I didn’t speak English as well as I thought I did. This was definitely something really hard for me in the beginning because it was the first time in my life when I felt that people were not getting a word of what I was saying. I was also very intimidated when I first saw my classmate’s portfolios. I felt my work wasn’t strong enough.

Nevertheless this hard beginning led to a great ending. Not only did my English get much better, but so did my work as an illustrator. Since the beginning, I felt that I needed to catch up with everyone else (skill wise) so I really pushed myself during the whole time to do the best work I could. Slowly the hard work started to pay off.

Making friends with talented people (my classmates) was the main factor that helped me adjust and improve. I learned a lot from them and we always had fun, even during the most stressful times.



3. Tell us about your book project for Marshall and Carl’s class. What was it about?

 I consider myself a very lucky and fortunate person because I´ve been able to travel a lot during my life. I actually lived in France for six months.

 I decided to do an illustrated book telling a little bit about my experience as a tourist in different countries. Every illustration in the book was accompanied with a text telling a little story of something that happened to me in every city I visited. But there is a little twist. If you read all the stories you will find out that this book is actually about what went wrong in each trip. I guess you can´t help having a couple of setbacks every time you travel.

Every trip I´ve made in my life has been an amazing experience, but I wanted this book to be also funny and interesting to read.


4. You have expressed great interest in web development and digital venues for illustration since Matthew’s Computer Illustration class and Digital Book class. How has this opened up career possibilities for you?

I believe that everything that is done with the purpose of reaching a lot of people is something that I’m definitely interested in. The idea of having prints of my work out there for a lot of people to see and own excites me.

 Graphic design and web design are careers meant to create visual products for big audiences, and I have a little bit of knowledge in both of them. After Matthew’s class I realized I could do a little bit of everything, I don’t have to follow exclusively the illustration path.

 I feel excited when I thing about what other things I could do with my illustrations, maybe animate them and make them interactive somehow. Who knows! In the meanwhile I just feel the need to keep learning, improving my skills in all the fields I’m interested in and promote myself in all of these fields too. 



5. Can you talk about your journey from making black and white pencil rendered illustrations to incorporating color in your work? How did you develop your color sense?

I came to SVA with no idea of what kind of illustrator I wanted to be. In other words, I came to find my own voice as an artist. Only one thing I knew for sure, I like doing highly rendered images.

During my undergrad, my work was mostly black and white. I liked the fact that my images looked simple but complicated at the same time. So, for my first Book Project at SVA it just made sense to me that I should continue doing black and white work. One day, one of my classmates suggested that I should color my images, which at first sounded like a crazy idea and I didn’t even consider doing it. However, more people continued to encourage me and for my second Book Project, I went for it.

I decided to color my drawings digitally and it wasn’t easy at first. Still it’s not easy, but when I saw strength my work achieved after coloring a couple of my drawings, I realized it is just something I need to continue doing. Slowly I’m learning to make more conscious decisions regarding the colors I choose for my work, I want them to really represent my own personality and taste.



6. Tell us about your thesis project, what it is about?

For my thesis project I did a book about Spanish sayings. One of my main goals with this project was to build a strong editorial portfolio. For this, I needed to add conceptual pieces to my portfolio and I thought that making illustrations based on sayings was a great way to achieve this.

I chose to use Spanish sayings because some of them are very funny but mostly because I grew up listening to them. It is important to me that my work relates to my life somehow; it just makes it more exciting for me to create images.

I also took into consideration the fact that the main audience of this book was going be Americans and I wanted them to learn sayings that they´ve never heard of before. Following this idea, in the beginning I restricted myself to only use sayings that existed in Spanish, but as the project developed, I used a couple that also exist in English. I believe that if the same saying exists in two or more languages it must have a really beautiful meaning.



7. What did coming to this program mean to you?

Coming to SVA meant so much to me but mostly it meant getting to know myself. I think I would never have known the extent of my skills if I didn´t come here. All the encouragement you receive here makes you push yourself to the best work you can.

 At SVA teachers will tell you over and over again that you just have to be yourself and that you shouldn’t underestimate the work you do. It takes time to really understand this, but once you get it, your work just gets so much better. It really starts to represent who you are.


8. Recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring.

For a movie I recommend Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola. Every aspect of this movie is amazing. The locations on the film, the costumes and a short animation in the beginning are simply beautiful. For an artist, I’ll definitely recommend Pat Perry, and excellent drawer. I love the complexity of his drawings and the quietness in some of his pieces.

9.  Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.

I think the best online resource out there is Pinterest. It is a great social network where you can find almost any reference picture you need. I use it all the time. It is also very helpful because you can save the images you like and access them from any place in the world. In terms of inspiration, I’ll just recommend to use your own life experiences. Go back in time, think of the things you really like and ideas will come.


 See more of Laura’s work:



Second-year James Kerigan talks about his work.

1. How did you get here? Where were you before?

Well I do know that I have spent as long as I could drawing. Doodling, not knowing that it could take me anywhere, but it wasn’t until high school that my teacher pushed me to do the Art AP program. Now that’s not a humble brag or anything, but it was so enjoyable and it solidified my “career path” from then onwards. I then received my BFA at St. John’s University, and what a hidden gem that art program was! I spent half a year living throughout Europe, got my first taste of gallery work as well as professional freelance jobs. It gave me everything, and seeing as how 3 of my teachers their received their masters in this very program, well that explains itself. Then from there grad school was next, and SVA was the only logical choice. 

2. Please talk about your “No Dessert” book. Why did you decide to make a children’s book for Marshall and Carl’s class?

Well I have never made a children’s book before, and what way to know if one would want to get into that industry then to jump in feet first and do it. In essence I taught myself how to make a children’s book by simply making a children’s book. It was not very enjoyable to be honest. The story was somewhat autobiographical with a boy on an adventure to steal cookies from the kitchen, with the help of his toys along the way. The problem is that I always fight myself from making nice single images, or paneled comic books, and I thought a kid’s book would be a happy middle ground, but it just didn’t click. I don’t regret one second of it, I just now know that children’s books aren’t for me, at least right now.

3. Tell us about your obsession with superheroes, how it happened, and how it affects the work you do.

Believe it or not, I got into the superhero game rather late. Yes I watched all of the batman and justice league cartoons as a kid, but it wasn’t until I went to London as a kid when I picked up my first Spider-Man comic book. I was hooked! In the simplest definition it is an escape. I just love the idea that someone who is granted godly powers, or someone’s undying dedication to justice can cause such societal impact. The idea of devoting ones life to one single cause is so profound. For me it is not a hobby anymore, I have consciously decided to devote a large part of my life to superheroes, or should I say comic books in general. Its effect on me is just as profound. Reading comic books for years now has lead me to do comic books and comic book art more so than any other type. The genre itself is so vast, and rewarding in both a visual and storytelling avenue that it’s an endless journey. Lets face it though, you cant but not love Batman.

4. What is your thesis project? Where did the idea come from and how has it been for you to write and illustrate a comic book.

My thesis project, as you can guess, is a comic book. Specifically the first issue in a larger story arc. It is titled “Doppelganger”, and it deals with the human psyche. In history a doppelganger is an “evil” double of someone, a bad version of themselves if you will. In my world a doppelganger is ones own anger. What would happen if our own emotions (specifically anger) could evolve inside us, and even manifest into reality? It deals with the occult, and there’s witchcraft, and a load of monsters (doppelgangers) all centered around a main hero of course.

The idea is straight from the old noggin, and for this project, I went way out of my comfort zone. Illustrating this book has been an eye opener. My advisor for this is Nathan Fox, and he has been working with me throughout the year, and we handled this project as if it was a full on professional job. From script, to storyboarding, to pencils, inking, grey-toning, editing, re-editing, etc. etc. Working on this project, doing every facet of the book myself has been tough but very rewarding. I not only have to be a writer, but an editor, designer, artist, letterer, and producer, all at the same time, and although it sounds daunting, It has been an absolute pleasure.

5. What is it about drawing monsters that you love so much? What other themes interest you and inspire you to create images?

What’s not to love about Monsters. Just like comic books, it is an endless genre to draw and inspire from. Everything we, as artists, create is informed by real world things, and my love of drawing monsters stems from taking my two favorite themes to draw from, and extrapolating that into something totally new. I love Anatomy, and animals the most. Knowing the intricate ins and outs of a human body, or the soft gestural qualities of a torso or face is an obsession of mine. Trying to draw the “perfect figure” is such a driving force for me. With animals, it is the mind-blowingly vast expanse of evolution that covers this world. The animal kingdom is so large, and there are just subsets amongst subsets of creatures and organisms that it is one of the biggest visual libraries around. You can spend every day of your life learning and drawing something new, and still wouldn’t touch half of what]s out there before the end of your life.

Now to bring this back full circle to monsters, the ability to take from a visual library, that is grounded in reality (anatomy, animals, etc.) and create something so other-worldly is fascinating. Like creating something from nothing almost. A monster can be bi-pedal like a human, and have the skin of an alligator, but the wings of a falcon and the tusks of a wooly mammoth, but if done right you can create something that has never been seen before. You can push it to as gnarly as you want, or hold back and keep it adorable. Its endless, purely endless.

 6. After almost two years in the program, how do you feel about your work before and after SVA? How has it evolved?

Oh boy, I have evolved ten-fold. When I first came to SVA I was so terrified and it was so daunting I was fighting myself the first year. Being the youngest of our year, and even one of the youngest of the entire program itself, I fell into this pit of thinking illustration was just editorial work, and I need to do work that everyone else would like. I even stopped myself from doing comics the first semester. It was a tough thing, but by the end of the first semester I realized how ridiculous that was and moved onwards . SVA has reshaped my idea of illustration (in a good way) and has changed my work ethic for the better. This program is filled with a great faculty, and titans of our field, but in the end it falls on you. You can make this a great experience, and a really rewarding one, or you can slide-by and make it by the skin of your teeth. This program has not only made me more productive and technically proficient, but it has made me more confident about heading out into the world of illustration. There are endless outlets, many of which I didn’t know existed, and a lot more prepared to venture into those fields than I ever was prior to this program. 

7. What does this program mean to you? What’s on your horizon after this program?

For me, this program helped me not only get better at what I was doing, but helped me to find out what I want to be doing. Yes I spent a lot of time doing things I now know I don’t want to do at all, but I wouldn’t have known without first doing them. This program was an eye opener of the real world for me to an extent as well. Being the youngest, and I will admit still having a bit of naiveté of not only our industry but the job world itself, a lot of things have been made clear to me and I am very confident to move onwards from here, more so then I ever was prior to this program. I have a love of being in school and just being a part of the education system, I am going to miss being in this program, and the people I have grown close with over these past years, but its time to move on. For what’s on my horizon I have some paths open in both the teaching world and the storyboarding world. I also now have a product that I can shop around for publishing, or to use as a jumping off point to get work in the comic book industry.

 8. Recommend a movie, a book, a song, a picture or an artist that you find inspiring.

For a movie, Kung-Fu panda, in a storytelling, artistic and animation stand-point, it is a gem!

For a book, a blank sketchbook, nothings better to help inspire you

For a song, “The Crowing” by Coheed and Cambria. Starts out relaxing and mellow, ends with a bang!

Check him out for yourself!

9. Recommend an online or physical resource that you consider informative or instructive for artists.

Life. Just grab a sketchbook, go outside and draw from life. There is something about blank paper, open air and your own thoughts that help to push creativity. You know yourself the best, and looking at something in the flesh, whether it’s an old forest tree, a nude model, or an animal at the zoo, studying and seeing it in person is way more informative than  looking at an online photo. Relying on the internet for resources is not bad, but it can lead you astray, where as experiencing something in reality is something in and of itself

See more of James’ work:

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