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After spending a year chairing the Society of Illustrators’ annual illustration show, Jillian Tamaki pens a rah rah intro for the annual, but I think she’s right:

Young illustrators, seemingly unfazed by the fact illustration was declared dead 60 years ago, are getting on with the business of making stuff. Not only individual images, but also showcases for those images: anthologies, collaborations, galleries, self-published books, games, visual essays, products sold directly to fans. (Illustrators have fans now.) How thrilling to see illustration cross-pollinating with journalism, comics, design, art, animation, and other disciplines that barely have names yet. Conventional clients have taken note. Why wouldn’t they? It’s good work.

The best young artists are seeking to define their careers on their own terms. I see this in my students at the School of Visual Arts. For better or worse, they are not content to be someone’s hired hands. They desire to be professionals, yes, but not to create work that only ‘solves the problem’–it must be meaningful on a deeper level too. It must have soul. When I was a student, I was happy just to render fruit in markers, if that’s what was what my teachers requested.

In a world with no hope of money or success, experimentation, stylization and originality—the true life’s blood of creativity and progress—is all the rage. And that’s really good.

Above illustration of Tamaki and her cat by Kris Mukai.


  1. The School of Visual Arts current tuition is $16,000 per semester. 2 semesters a year for a 4 year program? So… $128,000 for a commercial art/illustration degree. Whatever decisions young commercial artists are making these days come with an extremely high price tag. I don’t envy them…and I hope these schools still hand-out scholarships.

  2. $128,000 is a heavy price for an education.
    It had the money to go to The School of Visual Arts,
    I just wouldn’t.
    Go abroad do it for a fraction of that and see someplace
    else other than your back yard.

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