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Illustration Schools in New York

Written by ACR StaffAugust 31, 2015
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Today’s illustrators have to have more than talent. They have to be innovative, confident and even tech savvy. In fact, according to the Bureau pf Labor Statistics, “increasingly, illustrators use computers in their work. They might draw in pen and pencil and then scan the image into a computer to be colored in, or use a special pen to draw images directly onto the computer.”

As such, today’s aspiring illustrators may find themselves working for a top technology firm, a law enforcement agency, science lab, medical institute, in the academic arena or even an engineering company. However, more common careers for illustrators include advertising, publishing, filmmaking, political cartoons, animation, and gaming. Whether in science and engineering or entertainment, aspiring illustrators in the State of New York will find just about every type of illustration job they can think of, and then some. 

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In addition to ample employment opportunities, New York, as you already know, offers a word class art and culture scene. For starters, The Empire State is home to dozens of famous art museums such as The Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Next, the state is home to the second largest population of salaried workers in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media occupations, and the talent pool is growing. In 2010, the state was home to a staggering 180,010 salaried artists, designers, etc. Today the state is home to 198,880 artists, designers, etc., compared to California's 290,160—the nation’s largest population.

Finally, the saying “if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere” is true and the financial rewards for “making it” are impressive. Just think, the average New York artist, designer, etc., earns $74,100 per year, up from $68,370 a year in 2010. This means, New York holds the number two spot for top paying states for this occupation. Washington, DC holds the number one spot at $85,950 per year, and California is number three at $70,440 per year.

Besides an amazing art and culture scene, unlimited job opportunities for aspiring illustrators, and top salaries, New York is home to a number of top-tier colleges that offer renowned art and design programs. Many of these schools offer solid illustration programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Just a few popular options include the Fashion Institute of technology (FIT) and Syracuse University. 

New York Illustration Schools

New York is home to several art & design schools and traditional colleges that offer a degree or concentration in illustration. These schools may offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), or both. Scroll through the list below to take a look at New York’s best illustration schools and what they have to offer. 

New York
Fashion Institute of Technology - Degrees Offered: AAS, BFA, MFA Illustration

Parsons The New School for Design - Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration

State University of New York - Degrees Offered: BFA Studio Art with a Concentration Illustration  

St. John’s University - Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration

Rochester Institute of Technology - Degrees Offered:BFA Illustration

Syracuse University - Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA Illustration 

More Illustration related programs to consider:  

Employment and Salary Trends for New York Illustrators

As mentioned earlier, New York is home 198,880 professionals working in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations. Of this group, 840 are fine artists including illustrators, painters, and sculptors. They average $75,940 per year, up from $55,780 in 2010. While New York came in came in second in population and pay for the broad group artists, designers, etc. overall, the state’s illustrators are the second highest paid in the nation and New York has the second highest employment level for illustrators as well.

It is important to note that the population of independent artists is higher than the population of salaried artists and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average salary of $43,390 for independent artists across the U.S. However, the Bureau also states that, “earnings for self-employed artists vary widely.” Newcomers to the field can expect to earn as much as the lowest paid (salaried) illustrators. Experienced freelance artists may earn more than the highest paid (salaried) illustrators. Independent artists are responsible for their own benefits, so this may affect salaries some.

As mentioned, common industries for illustrators include advertising, film and video, publishing, game design, animation and more. Just a few employment options for illustrators in New York include:

  • 360i
  • Big Tent Entertainment
  • DDB Worldwide
  • Grey Advertising
  • Interpublic Group
  • JWT
  • Kaufman Astoria Studios
  • New York Spirit Media Group
  • Nickelodeon
  • Omnicom Group
  • Penguin Random House
  • Silvercup Studios
  • Steiner Studios
  • The STUDIO

While employment opportunities for illustrators can be found across the State of New York, many artists and designers live in the five boroughs of New York City—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. Other major cities worth looking into include Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse.

Awesome Animation Fact: The movie "Ek Anek Aur Ekta" was released in 1974 and is considered the first ever animated movie in India. After the release, many began to think of animation as a viable career in India. Just a few famous Indian animators include Ram Mohan (“The Father of Indian Animation”), Puneet Makhija (Senior Animator at Pixel India Productions), Amit Kapoor (Founder & Director of Anitoons The School of Art & Animation) and Vaibhav Kamresh (owner of Vaibhav Studios)