MassArt Illustration

July 8, 2020
by alice.stanne

Technical Illustration – Dream Studio Project

by John Roman

Every semester at MassArt I display a “Technical Illustration” presentation in the 6th floor Illustration Dept. hallway showing the students’ “Design Your Own Dream Studio” projects. With this past semester being fractured as it was, I wanted to do something special for the Spring 2020 students. So…in lieu of the hallway display, I created a 12-minute YouTube video of the students’ final artwork (Interior view in 1-point perspective and Exterior view in 2-point perspective).  
Enjoy the amazing work by this semester’s Technical Illustration students!

June 1, 2020
by alice.stanne

Handel & Haydn Society Partnership

Each year juniors in the Illustration department collaborate with Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society to provide artwork for one of their annual masterworks performances. This year, H&H partnered with the department for Project Vivaldi: The Four Seasons. While the performances unfortunately had to be cancelled, that did not stop the collaboration from going forward, with an online virtual gallery allowing the work of all the juniors to be put on display.

Please enjoy Vice President of Education and Community Engagement Emily Reed’s introduction to the project, then experience the virtual gallery on the Handel & Haydn Society’s website.

April 24, 2020
by alice.stanne

Illustration Student Recipient of MassArt Travel Award

Congratulations to Illustration junior Cherish Springer, the recipient of MassArt’s $5,000 Morton R. Godine Travel Award for her proposed project: Arctic Research in the Norwegian Archipelago!

Selected from proposals submitted by juniors and seniors across the college, the Godine Travel Award is granted to help defray the cost of traveling for the purpose of completing a well defined project having artistic merit.  

Of her proposal, Cherish says:

“My goal is to educate the public about the vulnerability and beauty of the Arctic landscape. To achieve this, I will travel to Svalbard and participate in a residency program. Through the program I can experience the landscape of the high Arctic, and learn about the history of the Norwegian archipelago, its people, and how it has been impacted by global warming. I will use what I have learned and work with schools near Boston to create community workshops that will combine climate change education and art. Then I will create paintings and a graphic novel that will collectively highlight the mystique of the Arctic and analyze the socio-political hierarchy within 19th century Arctic exploration missions.”

April 15, 2020
by alice.stanne

2020 Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition – WINNERS!

Congratulations to several of our Illustration students who were accepted into the Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition!

The SOI Student Show is the most prestigious student competition in the world. There are often nearly 7000 entries and only 200-300 images selected per year. Our selected students reflect some of the best from all the major art schools in America and we couldn’t be more proud of them and their work.

Here are the selected entries!

Karen WestTitle: Call To Return Home
Student: Karen West
Medium: Digital
Instructor: Scott Bakal
Awarded $150 In Memory of Ed Renfro

Title: Devil
Student: Karina Aguiar
Medium: Mixed Media
Instructor: Wesley Bredrosian

Title: Moss
Student: Caroline Barlow
Medium: Pencil
Instructor: Alex Gerasev

Title: Hiding Place
Student: Kealey Fitzpatrick
Medium: Gouache
Instructor: Wesley Bedrosian

Title: Harpy
Student: Zoe Gillette
Medium: Mixed Media
Instructor: John Thompson

Title: Phenomenon
Student: Zoe Gillette
Medium: Digital
Instructor: Scott Bakal

Title: Melodrama
Student: Abby Ouellette
Medium: Mixed Media Collage
Instructor: Scott Bakal

Title: Anima/Animus
Student: Michelle Stevens
Medium: Graphite
Instructor: Margot Zurakowska

Title: The Needs My Single Mom Gave Me
Student: Karen West
Medium: Pencil and Pen
Instructor: Alex Gerasev

March 3, 2020
by alice.stanne

Virtual 3D Illustration – Day of the Dead Skulls

In Mexico, it is tradition to make clay or sugar skulls for the Day of the Dead. These sculptures are elaborately decorated with a variety of motifs.

How does one reinterpret an ornamented skull? That’s the problem posed to students in the Virtual 3D Illustration class. This project asks students to sculpt a skull and decorate it in any fashion they prefer. The decorated elements are applied by way of hand painting and the use of found or pre-made designs that are applied like a decal.

After applying color, students mask the design and inflate the colored areas. This gives the appearance of raised paint.

After completing the sculpting and painting phase using ZBrush, the skulls are taken into the render engine called Keyshot where they are given a porcelain appearance. Shelves and a brick wall are created to display the skulls. A kind of ‘class portrait’.

January 22, 2020
by alice.stanne

Fights: One Boys Triumph Over Violence

Associate Professor Joel Gill, new faculty in the Illustration Department, had his new book released recently!

Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence, is Joel Christian Gill’s visceral and deeply affecting memoir chronicling his youth and coming of age as a poor Black child in a chaotic southern landscape of rough city streets and foreboding backwoods during the crack cocaine boom of the 1980s. Propelled into a world filled with uncertainty and desperation, young Joel is pushed toward using violence to solve his problems in a troubled environment at home, school, and in social interactions. But, fighting doesn’t always yield the best results for a confused and sensitive kid who yearns for a better, more fulfilling life than the one he was born into.

Watch Joel on Boston’s WCVB CityLine 12 pm on Jan 26th

…and he will be signing his book at:

Comiccopia from 1-3 on Feb 1
Harvard Book Store on Feb 7 at 7pm
Bookery In Manchester NH on Feb 15th at 7pm.

November 19, 2019
by alice.stanne

Dora Wang Interview

Interview By Professor Scott Bakal

Minru ‘Dora’ Wang is an award winning illustrator and graduated from MassArt in 2018 with a BFA in Illustration. During her senior year at MassArt, she applied for the Illustration as Visual Essay MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York and is currently in her second and final year of the graduate program.

I often get questions from current students about whether or not to get a Master’s Degree. It’s a tough question to answer and a very personal one. I wrote an article about it that you can find on Muddy Colors.

While I was in New York City recently for the American Illustration annual event, I stopped by SVA and visited Dora’s studio to catch up and talk about what’s been going on since she graduated and her experience working toward a Master’s Degree. Here is part of the conversation.

Scott: Hey Dora!

Dora: Hi Scott!

It’s great to see your studio and your Master’s Thesis in progress. Before we talk about it, can you give everyone a little background? Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Hangzhou, China. It is a beautiful city covered with greens. I guess this is why I love drawing plants, and green is always in my art.

I love the Green Tea from there!

Yes! It’s a big deal in my town.

Were you always an artist?

I was not always an artist. I had a very fun childhood. When I was little, my mom encouraged me to learn all kinds of things like music, art, dance, sports, etc. I am very grateful to all these skills I learned because they built my hobbies and choices for the future.  When I was in my first high school, I started thinking about what I want to do. After going through each hobby, I decided that art will be my life career. I started learning how to draw in my sophomore year. Then, I transferred to an art high school and started my artist path.

What made you decide to come to the U.S. for art and why did you pick Illustration at MassArt?

My mom was working at the University of Rhode Island when I came to the U.S. I did not plan to stay in the U.S. However, I thought it would be a great chance to experience a different culture. I came to MassArt after I graduated from South Kingstown High School in Rhode Island.

My initial plan was to major in Jewelry Design.

Really? I had no idea!

Yup! In my freshmen year, I also took a painting class and a printmaking class, and almost went for those majors. Finally, I went to the Graphic Design Open House and got a chance to be on the 9th floor studio. I was really attracted by all the beautiful illustrations in the studio space. In that moment, I knew this is something I want to do. I just want to draw.

I always felt like picking illustration as my major was my destiny because I did not know illustration until the last second.

Wow! A similar thing happened to me. When I went on my interview for undergrad, I signed up for Advertising because I didn’t understand majoring in Illustration was a thing. The reviewer, seeing I painted everything, even the letters on the book and album covers in my portfolio, explained what illustration was to me. I went for that immediately!

So cool!

You really seemed to prosper in the illustration department. You worked incredibly hard in the classroom and outside the classroom. You even took Skillshare courses and had work exhibited around Boston while in school. Where did your work ethic come from?

I think the desire to create is mainly what pushes me to keep doing work. I enjoy the feeling of making things. It is like building my own world, and everything I create belongs to me. Interest is the best teacher. I learn because I want to not because I have to.

That’s very admirable.

At some point, you started asking me and a few other professors about the idea of getting a Masters Degree. What prompted you to want to pursue it?

I decided to apply for a graduate school. Many of my favorite illustrators graduated from the Illustration as Visual Essay MFA Program from the SVA, like Yuko Shimizu, Hyesu Lee, Sam Weber, and one of my professors at MassArt Wesley Bedrosian. Wes showed me his work from the MFA Program, and told me what he learned from the program, which was very helpful to me to determine my wish to go to the same program.

How has it been going so far?

From the past year studying here, I think I definitely made the right choice. New York is an amazing city with fabulous people. I especially like the museums here! There are always new shows and new events. I have chances to meet with talented illustrators and artists. In my opinion, getting a Master Degree does not only mean that my illustration will be improved but more importantly, it also brings me to the business field and helps me to build connections with people.

I seriously want to thank you and everyone at MassArt for giving me a fantastic undergraduate study experience, which made me really want to stay in school for a couple of more years and to learn more about illustration.

What have you discovered about yourself and your art going through the Master’s program?

After a year’s study at the MFA program, I found the story part is also very important because it is the soul of the art work. I think a lot about what illustration is, as a language, as a way to communicate. I have been developing my artistic theory using what I learned since last year.  Also, this program really helps me to explore different ways to draw, and try to find my voice.

Now that you’re getting close to graduating next Spring, what are your plans for the future?

I am interested in doing children’s books and making toys! I hope to tell my own stories, and show my little world to other people.

I’ve been seeing a lot of children’s related work on your site recently…

Yeah! Also, teaching is also something I would love to do. Having a master’s degree will help with that but the whole program with build my artistic mind and the experience I gain will support me to lead young illustrators if I do decide to teach.

Now that you’ve finished MassArt and nearing the end of your Master’s experience, what advice would you give Seniors about to graduate as they develop their business in illustration?

My advice would be to always create good work and do not be afraid to reach out to people. I am still pushing myself to make progress on my work, I think the work quality and connections with people are equally important. Also, going to museums, art book fairs, bookstores, and the school library really helps.

Thanks for chatting Dora. Good luck with the rest of your thesis!

Thank you!

Dora Wang Website

All artwork © Dora Wang. All photography © Scott Bakal.

November 7, 2019
by alice.stanne

Urban Sketching and Plein-Air Painting

The November 2019 issue of The Artist’s Magazine is in bookstores and libraries now! The issue includes a feature story by Illustration Department teacher, John Roman, “Urban Sketching and Plein-Air Painting: Descendants of the Renaissance.” In the story John traces the roots of these popular genres back to The Renaissance.

The article also highlights the plein-air paintings of two MassArt Illustration Professors: Paul Olson and Frank Costantino, as well as urban sketching illustrations by MassArt Illustration Seniors (2020): Elizabeth Ogle, Cherish Springer, Dani Stratton and Pallavi Rawla that were created for John’s (Spring 2019) section of Technical Illustration.

It’s great to see our Illustration seniors’ work reproduced in a national magazine! Congratulations to the students and teachers involved!

Pallavi Rawla (BFA’20)

Elizabeth Ogle (BFA’20)

Dani Stratto (BFA ’20)

Cherish Springer (BFA’20)

Paul Olson, Visiting Lecturer

Frank Costantino, Visiting Lecturer


May 21, 2019
by alice.stanne

Arlington International Film Festival Poster Contest

This semester Robert Maloney’s Experimental Illustration class collaborated with the Arlington International Film Festival to illustrate the image for their 2019 film festival poster. This year Biana Bova’s piece was chosen as the winning design.
Here’s what Biana had to say about her approach to the project. “My goal for this piece was to capture the energy and fun of this incredible film festival. The punchy colors and explosive collage immediately grab the viewer’s attention while the little details—such as vintage cameras and ticket stubs—narrate all the elements of the festival. The outlines of the continents on the human figure symbolize everyone from around the world who are participating.”
All the posters on display can be seen in the slideshow below:

AIFF Posters 2019

May 20, 2019
by alice.stanne

Sustainability Posters

This spring the Illustration Department collaborated with MassArt’s Sustainability Fellow, Jane Marsching, on a climate change assignment given to six sections of the Sophomore Illustration class. These 85 Sophomore Illustration students used the recent IPCC report as a prompt to create poster images that address the dire challenges that the City of Boston and the MassArt community face around the topic of climate change.

The posters were be exhibited on campus in the windows of the Treehouse Residence Hall.

Images from the poster exhibit can be viewed in the slideshow below:Sustainability Posters