Meet the Chair

Illustration is foremost about communication. We engage with the world around us. Illustrators are visual problem-solvers, storytellers, and big thinkers.

My artistic journey reflects the varied directions a single career can take. I received a degree in illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

My early career got a big boost when the New Yorker gave me my first cover assignment. I began working mostly for magazines, newspapers, and book publishers.

Since then I've illustrated children's books and posters, designed mosaic murals and relief sculptures for public buildings and a New York subway station, and have shown original art in museum and gallery exhibitions.

This variety is typical of illustrators today.

Learn more about Owen Smith's career success »

Building Diversity & Depth

Many Illustrators are freelance artists who run their own personal studios. We often collaborate with writers, editors, designers, publishers, filmmakers, product designers, and gallery directors.

Other illustrators work in-house in the publishing, design, product, or entertainment industries.

While our program has deep routes in traditional publishing, many students aspire to design for animation, gaming, and film.

In collaboration with the Animation Program, we offer courses in visual development and character design.

Other areas of study include surface design, comics, and information graphics.

We embrace new media and digital tools, yet require students to master drawing and painting in traditional media and to study the foundations of composition and color.

These skills provide graduates more artistic choices and are the basis for effective visual communication.

Artistic Development & Professional Practice

We encourage every student to develop a personal voice, incorporating original concepts and unique visual vocabulary. Students push the limits of their artistic abilities and delve deeply into assigned topics through research.

They find inspiration in literature, history, politics, and social justice.

As seniors, students design self-directed thesis projects around a single concept. They establish a career plan, assemble a portfolio, create a website, and design promotional materials.

The curriculum emphasizes professional standards and ethical business practices.

Our Community

The CCA Illustration Program is designed around mentorship. I'm so proud of the stellar faculty we have assembled. Our teachers are award-winning professional artists who bring real-world experience into the classroom.

We join with other programs to offer interdisciplinary courses to enrich learning and expand thought and expression.

Our department is large enough to reflect the breadth of Illustration, yet small enough for students to receive personal attention and to develop friendships and working relationships that will follow them into their artistic futures.