|1||Kansas City Art Institute||Kansas City|
|2||Washington University in St. Louis||St. Louis|
|3||Missouri State University||Springfield|
Our 2019 rankings of the top illustration school programs in Missouri. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) was established in 1885. The school has trained students such as Walt Disney (who took Saturday Classes as a child), and multimedia artist Robert Rauschenberg. Today, KCAI serves more than 700 students, enrolled in 13 art and design programs across several departments. The Department of Illustration houses the school’s BFA in Illustration program.
Per the school, “illustration students work with traditional and digital media to develop the conceptual, technical and aesthetic skills necessary for success in the diverse range of practices in this evolving field. Courses such as Drawing and Design Systems, Exploring the Narrative and Visual/Sequential Storytelling are geared toward enabling students to simultaneously express themselves as artists while learning how to communicate substantive visual messages.” Courses are taught by department faculty who are practicing professionals in the areas of publishing, editorial, advertising and institutional.
Other program highlights include collaborative assignments, a required internship in a professional work setting, access to studio and classroom technology that prepares students for diverse areas of professional practice, and the opportunity to work in digital and analog environments “designed to facilitate creativity and interdisciplinary approaches to image making.”
Recent graduates are employed at MTV, Nickelodeon, Hallmark, American Greetings, Nike and many others. Their work has been featured in many publications such as The New York Times, Women’s Day, Wired, and numerous children’s books. Some have won awards in publications such as Print, Communication Arts, American Illustration and the Society of Illustrators.
2. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
Founded in 1853, Washington University in St. Louis serves nearly 16,000 students enrolled in more than 90 fields of study across 10 colleges and schools. Part of the Art & Architecture Division, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts houses the Communication Design Program. Here, aspiring illustrators can earn a BFA in Communication Design with an Emphasis in Illustration, and an MFA in Illustration + Visual Culture. A Minor in Design is also available.
Per thee school, the minor “allows students to mix and match courses in areas such as illustration, communication design, and the illustrated book studio to suit interests and schedules.”
The collaborative BFA in Communication Design with an Emphasis in Illustration combines graphic design, illustration, and interaction design. This means, students in the program can choose to focus on illustrating stories, creating comics, and designing printed posters and books, as well as study the history of printed images, comics, and advertising, make pictures for games and motion graphics, and more. During the last year of the program, “students will pursue a capstone project that culminates in an illustrated book, zine, screen-based presentation, graphic novel/mini-comic, or digital experience,” says the school.
The final project is displayed in a public exhibition and reviewed by external design professionals.
The MFA in Illustration + Visual Culture (MFA-IVC) is a two-year program that combines studio practice in illustration with curatorial training in visual and material culture. The two-year program consists of courses such as Comics and Cartooning: A Survey, lllustration Studio: Artist, Author, Audience, Illustration Studio: Drawing & Voice, Literatures of Drawing, Readings in Visual and Material Culture, and The Illustrated Periodical. Students in the program will also complete an internship.
Graduates of the MFA program will be prepared to work as author-artists of graphic novels and picture books, professors of illustration, critical writers on popular culture, and curatorial staff in museums, libraries, and auction houses. This program launches in Fall 2019.
3. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
Missouri State University was founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School. Serving more than 20,000 students from Missouri, nearly every other state, and 85 countries, Missouri State is the state’s second largest university. The school offers more than 150 undergraduate majors and 48 graduate programs through seven academic colleges and one Graduate College.
The College of Arts and Letters houses the Art and Design Department (MSU A+D), which is the largest and one of the most varied publicly funded departments of art and design in Missouri. Here, aspiring illustrators can earn a BFA in Design with a Graphic Design and Illustration Track or an Illustration Track. A Minor in Design is also available as well as an MFA program.
The Graphic Design and Illustration Track requires 33 hours in the focus area. This includes 15 hours in Graphic Design, nine hours in Illustration, six hours of Special Topics in Illustration, and three hours of Design electives. The Illustration Track requires at least 18 hours of coursework in the focus area. Students in the Illustration Track will take courses such as Computer Animation, Digital Imaging, Drawing and Painting, Photography, and Printmaking.
Students in both Tracks will take 78-93 credit hours in other areas such as Art History, Design, Foundations, and Studio Art. A Professional Design Practicum is part of both programs as well as a Public Affairs Capstone Experience. All students have the opportunity to complete a design internship as well.