The scenic State of Michigan is surrounded by four Great Lakes—Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior, and Lake Erie. Visitors will find more than 3,000 miles of gorgeous coastline in Michigan, and unusual places that can only be created by nature such as the world’s largest limestone quarry in Rogers City. The state is also home to the world’s largest cement plant, the earth’s longest freshwater shoreline, and the largest commercial deposit of copper in the world. With so many unusual places, breathtaking scenery, and major art museums such as The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum and The Museum of Contemporary Art, it’s not surprising that more than 48,00 artists, designers, media professionals and more call Michigan home.
Not only does Michigan have a large population of artists and designers, it is one of the nation’s most diverse. Some artists here work in animation, gaming, or special effects, while others are painters, performance artists, illustrators, and more. Illustrators in the state work in a variety of fields from advertising and publishing to education, medicine and science. Many of these professionals studied at local colleges such as The College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit or Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale.
Including CSS and GVSU, Michigan is home to 107 Title IV degree-granting institutions. Most of them offer programs for aspiring artists of all kinds. Let’s take a look at some of the best options for aspiring illustrators.
Michigan Illustration Schools
Michigan is home to several schools that offer a degree in illustration or an illustration “track.” Students can expect to find degree programs at all levels as well as the opportunity to explore other areas such as animation, medical illustration and computer graphics. Scroll through the list below see what Michigan’s illustration schools have to offer and where to find them.
Grand Valley State University - Degrees Offered: BFA, BA Art and Design with Emphasis in Illustration
Andrews University - Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration
College for Creative Studies – Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration
Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University - BFA Illustration
Northern Michigan University – Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration, BA/BS Illustration, Minor in Illustration, BFA Drawing & Painting
Northwestern Michigan College – Degrees Offered: Associate in Science and Arts (ASA). Program features Drawing, Design (2-D and 3-D), and Life Drawing. Related specializations include Computer Graphics, Painting, and Watercolor Painting.
More Illustration related programs to consider:
- 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
Employment and Salary Trends for Michigan Illustrators
Michigan is home to 48,060 professionals working in Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media (ADESM) occupations. Around 230 are fine artists, which includes painters, sculptors, and illustrators. Current salary figures are not available, but in 2013, Michigan-based fine artists averaged $48,530 when the state was home to 280 fine artists.
Nationwide, fine artists average $51,120 (mean) per year, down from $54,000 in 2013. The top paying industries for fine artists are:
- Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers (average $119,870 per year)
- Software Publishers ($94,680)
- Scientific Research and Development Services ($76,580)
- Employment Services ($72,120)
- Motion Picture and Video Industries ($66,210)
Although the average salary for fine artists decreased between 2013 and today, employment is expected to increase by four percent for the 2012-2022 decade. Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “demand for illustrators who work on a computer will increase, as media companies use more detailed images and backgrounds in their designs.” In addition, “new opportunities are expected to arise, as the number of electronic magazines, Internet-based publications, and video games grows.” The industries with the highest employment levels for fine artists are:
- Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
- Motion Picture and Video Industries
- Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers
- Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers
- Software Publishers
While illustrators may find employment opportunities in a number of Michigan cities and towns, the state’s larger cities are worth looking into first. Consider Detroit, which is home to a variety of art venues, publishing companies, creative agencies and production companies, Grand Rapids, Warren, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, and Lansing.
Awesome Animation Fact: Best Animation Feature Film category started in 2001 due to the influx of 3D Animation films exploding into the mainstream film industry. Pixar Animation Studios won in almost every year they released a film with the exception of 2 years where they lost to DreamWorks’ Shrek in 2001 and Animal Logic’s Happy Feet in 2006. –AnimationMentor, The Online Animation School