Most creative industries today require the expertise of someone who can sketch/illustrate/ draw. Just a few include publishing, TV, film and video, advertising, graphic design, animation, fashion, and architecture. Many other industries such as legal, medical, and science and technology routinely hire technical illustrators as well. What this means is today’s illustrator must be talented, versatile, and well trained. Fortunately, most art programs at colleges and universities offer illustration and drawing programs, or a significant amount of illustration/drawing coursework may be part of a larger program such as animation or graphic design.
Aspiring illustrators in Wisconsin will find plenty of schools that offer excellent training programs at all degree levels. They can be found just about anywhere from the small city of Platteville to the state’s largest city—Milwaukee. Just a few of the top art and design schools in the state include Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), Carroll University in Waukesha, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Viterbo University in La Crosse.
Continue reading to find out which Wisconsin schools offer the best programs for aspiring illustrators and where to find them.
Wisconsin Illustration Schools
Wisconsin is home to 84 Title IV degree-granting colleges and universities. The state’s top Title IVs are a nice mix of public, private not-for-profit, and private for-profit institutions, as well as community colleges that grant a two-year degree. While some of these schools come with a hefty price tag, because they are Title IVs, they are eligible for federal financial aid programs. This makes them more accessible to students with financial need. All of the schools on our list below have Title IV status.
University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Department of Art & Design – BA Art with an Illustration, Drawing + Painting, Graphic Design or Printmaking Emphasis
University of Wisconsin Parkside, Art Department - Degrees Offered: BA General Arts, BA Digital Arts with Concentrations in Illustration, Animation; BA Studio Arts with a Concentration in Drawing
Viterbo University, Art Department - Degrees Offered: BA Studio Art; BFA Studio Art with Concentrations in Drawing, Graphic Arts and New Media, Interdisciplinary Studies, Design & Technical Production; Minor Art
University of Wisconsin Madison, Art Department - Degrees Offered: BS, BFA Art with an Emphasis in Life Drawing, Painting + Drawing, Digital Modeling, Graphic Design and Typography, New Genres
University of Wisconsin Stout, School of Art and Design - Degrees Offered: BFA Studio Art with an Emphasis in Drawing, Art, Printmaking, Animation, Comic and Sequential Art; Minor Art
Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) – BFA Art, BFA Illustration, BFA Drawing, BFA Integrated Studio Arts, BFA Time-Based Media (Video & Animation); Minor in Animation
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Peck School of the Arts - Degrees Offered: BA Studio Art; BFA Painting + Drawing, Print and Narrative Forms, New Genres; MA Studio Art; MFA New Genres, Studio Art; Minor in Art
University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Department of Art and Design - Degrees Offered: BA Art with Studio Art Emphasis; BFA Art with 2D (Drawing, Painting), Design & Technology
More Wisconsin Illustration related programs to consider:
- Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, France, and Online via SCAD eLearning
Employment and Salary Trends for Wisconsin Illustrators
Wisconsin is home to 33,740 individuals working in Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media (ADESM) occupations. They average $45,320 per year up from $41,340 in 2009 when the state was home to 35,210 ADESM professionals. Of the states 33,740 salaried ADESM professionals, 190 are fine artists, up from 31,710 per year in 2009 when the state was home to 180 fine artists.
It is important to note that many artists are self-employed. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the “Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers” ‘industry’ has the highest level and highest concentration of employment in this occupation. This means it is safe to assume that the population of illustrators in the Wisconsin is likely much higher.
Nationwide, the median annual wage for fine artists is $43,890, which was higher than the median annual wage of $35,540 for all occupations. In addition, according to the BLS, employment of fine artists including illustrators, painters, and sculptors is projected to grow three percent for the 2014-2024 decade, which is slower than the average for all occupations. However, this growth will result in the addition of 800 salaried jobs in comparison to just 100 for craft artists and 100 for the “Artists and Related Workers, All Other” group.
Demand for illustrators who work on a computer is likely to increase as media companies use more detailed images and backgrounds in their designs, says the BLS. Illustrators and cartoonists who work in publishing may see their job opportunities decline as traditional print publications lose ground to other media forms. However, says the BLS, new opportunities are expected to arise as the number of electronic magazines and Internet-based publications continues to grow.
The industries with the highest levels of employment for fine artists including illustrators, painters, and sculptors are:
- Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
- Motion Picture and Video Industries
- Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers
- Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers
- Software Publishers
The top paying industries for fine artists are:
- Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers (average annual $119,870)
- Software Publishers ($94,680)
- Scientific Research and Development Services ($76,580)
- Employment Services ($72,120)
- Motion Picture and Video Industries ($66,210)
The top five highest paying states for fine artists are:
- Arizona ($95,600)
- New York ($75,940)
- Washington ($71,200)
- Connecticut ($70,070)
- California ($62,950)
Although the states with the highest employment levels for fine artists are California, New York, Ohio, Florida, and Texas, aspiring illustrators in Wisconsin may increase their chances of landing a position in the field by exploring the states larger cities. In fact, Madison—the state’s second largest city, has the sixth highest concentration of jobs and location quotients of the top 10 metro areas for fine artists. Of course, Milwaukee—the state’s largest city, is also an excellent start, as well as Green Bay (third largest), Kenosha (fourth), and Racing (fifth).
Awesome Animation Fact: The character Dopey, in Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), was supposed to have a lot of dialogue. Simply put, he was slated to be a chatterbox! The problem was, producers couldn’t find a voice that was quite suitable for the bald dwarf. Rather than outfit him with vocals they thought were wrong, Dopey went silent instead. -mental_floss