CCA Illustration Students Take on New York

CCA students take it all in at the New York Times.

Each spring a group of CCA Illustration students travels to New York to meet big names in the editorial and illustration world. In March 2012, 17 students led by faculty member Robert Hunt visited the Big Apple and met face to face with design directors and key art department staff at the New York Times, Penguin Books, and other potential clients. They also met with several professional illustrators in their studios.

The annual New York trip has greatly raised the visibility of CCA’s Illustration Program. Our students regularly win awards from the Society of Illustrators and beyond, and they have a very high rate of success following graduation.

The trip also has opened up some amazing opportunities for the students over the years, according to Hunt. “Maggie Olson, who came with us this past spring, was hired to intern in the Penguin children’s books division beginning this fall. Having met the staff at Penguin gave her a leg up over other applicants from all around the country.”

And that’s far from the only success story. “A number of the students we’ve taken to visit the School of Visual Arts in New York have consequently been accepted into the master’s program there. And SooJin Buzelli, creative director of Asset International Publishing, has hired several of our students to do illustrations for her magazines.

Preparing for Life After Graduation

“For most illustrators, life after graduation consists of setting up a professional practice, developing a portfolio, and working with numerous clients,” continues Hunt. “This can be incredibly daunting for a young person just entering the field. Seeing how different kinds of illustrators have done it, and meeting potential clients, is invaluable.”

The Professional Practice course in Illustration includes many invited guest artists and covers all aspects of ethics and interfacing with clients, but Hunt maintains that experiencing New York, the center of the publishing and advertising industries, offers something the students can’t get any other way.

“It is vital for them to have a clear idea of what the professional world is about, but it is hard to ‘see’ it in the way most professions can be observed, because illustrators are generally independent and self-employed. The New York trip presents a chance to see working illustrators and to forge personal relationships in the field, taking advantage of my contacts and those of my fellow faculty members.”

Faculty Making it Happen

Hunt has been taking students to New York for four years as part of the Professional Practice course. Other faculty members have participated in the past, including Caitlin Kuhwald, Alexis Mahrus, and Bob Ciano.

Before it became an official course offering in the Illustration curriculum, Randy Chavez and Owen Smith informally took groups of students to New York to help them envision their future careers.

Meet & Greets

Highlights of the spring 2012 trip included face-to-face meetings with SooJin Buzelli of Asset International; the designer James Victoire; and staff from the Society of Illustrators and the Criterion Collection.

Among the many illustrators the group visited were

Sam Weber
Laura Tallardy
Neil Swaab
Josh Cochran
Chris Silas Neil
Tim O’Brien
Chris Buzelli
Edel Rodriguez
Brad Holland.

And then there are the visits to such important New York institutions as the Metropolitan Museum, the Neue Galerie, the Frick, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the American Museum of Natural History.

“It’s a very full week!” says Hunt. “But it’s so important.”