With nearly 39 million residents, California has the largest population in the U.S. It is home to three of the nation’s top ten largest cities—Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose, and it is home to more artists than any other place on the planet. Illustrators are members of this massive group and they work in advertising, animation and filmmaking, game design, publishing, law, medicine, science, engineering, technology, and more. Just a few popular job titles for illustrators include freelance illustrator, fine artist, advertising illustrator, book illustrator, editorial illustrator, fashion illustrator, storyboard artist, and sketch artist.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California has the highest employment level in this field. It’s not surprising because California is home to hundreds of creative agencies, publishing companies, technology firms, animation studios, research firms, labs, courthouses, and more. Just a few major employers of illustrators in the state include Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, Saatchi and Saatchi, Nickelodeon, and Electronic Arts. These and many other major companies are always looking for fresh talent, which is why they often recruit directly from California’s large collection of celebrated illustration schools.
California Illustration Schools
California is home to a number of schools that offer illustration programs at all levels. Take a look at the list below to find out which schools offer illustration programs and where to find them.
Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) - Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration, Game Art
California State University Long Beach - Degrees Offered: BA, BFA Art with an Illustration Option; MFA Art with a Concentration in Studio Art: Illustration/Animation Track
Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art - Degrees offered: BFA Fine Art, Certificate Fine Art
Otis College of Art and Design - Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration
California State University Northridge - Degrees Offered:BA Illustration; MA or MFA Art with a Visual Communication Option, Illustration Concentration
Art Center College of Design - Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration
Academy of Art University - Degrees Offered: AA, BFA, MFA Illustration
California College of Arts – Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration
San Jose State University - Degrees Offered: BFA Art: Animation/Illustration
More California schools with Illustration related programs:
- Winter Park, FL & Online
- Computer Animation - Bachelor's - Online & Campus
- Game Programs - Bachelor's & Master's - Online & Campus
- Graphic Design & Digital Arts - Bachelor's - Online & Campus
- Film & Digital Cinematography - Bachelor's & Master's - Online & Campus
- Mobile Development - Bachelor's - Online & Campus
- Simulation & Visualization - Bachelor's - Campus
- Orlando, Florida (Online Programs Available)
Employment and Salary Trends for California Illustrators
California is home to 3,190 fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators. They average around $62,950 per year, which is higher than the national average of $51,120 (mean). It is important to note that many illustrators are self-employed. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the industry with the highest employment level for fine artists is “independent artists, writers, and performers.” These individuals may earn more or less than the national average based on a variety of factors such as geographic location, industry (film, advertising, publishing, etc.), experience, education, and more. Other top industries for fine artists/illustrators include:
- Motion Picture and Video
- Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers
- Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers
- Software Publishers
Although employment opportunities can be found in many cities throughout California, the state’s largest cities typically offer a greater number of opportunities. Los Angeles—the entertainment capital of the world leads the pack, followed by San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, and Sacramento.
Awesome Animation Fact: Once a concept or script is written for a film or animation, the next step is to make a storyboard. Created by an illustrator or other artist, the storyboard visually tells the story of an animation panel by panel, kind of like a comic book. –The Ohio State University