Maestro Marshall Arisman’s Retrospective.

Marshall Arisman’s Retrospective is stunning. If you get to New York City, see it before it closes on Sept 16. If you can’t get there, watch this 10-minute video tour .

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I remember the day I met Marshall Arisman. It was 1984. I went to his office at School of Visual Arts after seeing an ad in the NY Times for a new degree program, The MFA in Visual Journalism. The ad showcased in bold headlines a stellar faculty line up: Tom Wicker, Pete Hamill, Robert Weaver, James McMullan, Marshall Arisman.

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Marshall sat at a big desk, wearing a camel-colored cashmere sweater. I showed him my cartoons and spot illustrations for The NY Times and Village Voice. He laughed at some. He told me I should apply. I told him I wanted to apply, but had a problem. I’d dropped out college and didn’t have a bachelor’s degree. He laughed harder then. He said I couldn’t enter the MFA program without a bachelor’s degree.

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SVA recruitment poster, 1980, by Marshall Arisman.

I pointed out the fine print on the SVA MFA application. “Must have 10 slides, a biographical essay, 2 letters of reference, and a transcript of an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.” Then it said, “Any of the above requirements can be waived by the chairperson.” Marshall waved his hands over his desk as if to say  ‘meeting over.’ He told me he might waive a letter of reference, or slides, but he couldn’t waive the undergraduate degree, New York State would take away his program’s accreditation.

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I asked if he could let me in conditionally. “If I get a bachelor’s degree before I finish the MFA program, can I get in?”  I told him how much I wanted to study with him and the writers and artists in the ad. I kept talking. He was looking at me askance. He asked if I would like a cup of coffee. I said sure, and looked around his office for a coffee maker. He said, “Let’s go outside.” He lit an unfiltered cigarette the moment we hit the sidewalk of 23rd street. We walked across the street to a coffee shop on the corner of Third Ave. He bought me a cup of coffee. He shook my hand and told me he needed to get back to work. I drank my coffee on the street corner. Yes, it did occur to me our the trip to the coffee shop was his way to get me out of his office.

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I got in the MFA program. I worked on my bachelor’s degree simultaneously with the SVA night classes. One night of the week we studied with Robert Weaver, next night, Marshall Arisman, then Jim McMullan, then Steve Heller teaching Illustration History. Alas, the heavyweight writers, Wicker and Hamill never showed. Arthur Pincus, a sports editor for the NY Times was our writing coach. He was a good writer. The other students, all better artists than I, didn’t care much about the writing component.

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Marshall is one of the word’s great storytellers. His delivery is so dry, it may be an acquired taste. Marshall told us that he could read auras. His grandma was a psychic. The first aura he ever witnessed was during a lecture by Krishnamurti at Carnegie Hall. Great wings of light blasted from Indian mystic’s shoulders to fill the entire stage. I asked Marshall if he read our student auras. He said sometimes. I was rude enough to I ask if I left the room and changed my shirt would my aura change?  “Auras change all the time, ” he said with a chuckle.

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Marshall told me he once saved a life by reading an aura. A fellow wandered into his SVA office and claimed he needed to contact his girlfriend who was in class somewhere in the building. It was an emergency. “What sort of emergency?” asked Marshall. The guy mumbled something about lost keys. Marshall paused, read the man’s aura and saw mad white-hot flashes flying off his face. Marshall said he could call the Registrar to locate the girl. Instead he phoned SVA security and calmly conveyed that he had an immediate problem in his office. Public Safety arrived just in time to subdue the man as he pulled a gun and revealed his true intentions, “I am gonna murder that b_____!”

I recall a lot of things Marshall said in class. He once told us, “Give me 5 good years, that’s the artist’s prayer. ” Well, this retrospective is called Marshall Arisman: An Artist’s Journey from Dark to Light, 1972—2017.  That’s 35 years, right? Seems like Marshall Arisman’s prayers were answered seven times over.

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Marshall was mobbed at his opening. He stood in the center of the gallery, backed by a troop of his sacred monkey figures. I got a moment to shake his hand and thank him again for all he did for me. He thanked me for coming. I tried to eavesdrop on what he said to his many other well-wishers. He locked eyes with each of them. His lips moved, his eyes lit up. I was inches away, but I could not hear a single syllable Marshall or his partner of the moment said. It was so very strange. It was if they were enveloped in Marshall’s aura, something I will never quite see, but will always respect.

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Gil Ashby with Marshall Arisman.

You can find a proper interview with Marshall Arisman by Nicholas Gazin on Vice.com, entitled, Enter the Nightmarish Realms of an Iconic Illustrator. There are  more interviews and talks on his website, MarshallArisman.com. The man is an artist worth knowing.

 

 

 

 

Paul Hoppe – Keeping it Real

Destinations illustration © Paul Hoppe which he sells as a print.
Destinations illustration © Paul Hoppe

Paul Hoppe was at MoCCA fest selling prints and handcrafted zines. Born in Poland, he grew up in Germany and came to NYC on a DAAD scholarship. (DAAD is the German version of a Fulbright Exchange.) He got his MFA at SVA’s Illustration as Visual Essay program in New York City. Our Kutztown students were impressed by him. Jen Zweiger traded a copy of her very first zine with him. She says,”getting to meet and interact with international artist was a really profound experience.”

Paul Hoppe at MoCCA Fest  2013. photo by K. McCloskey
Paul Hoppe at MoCCA Fest 2013. photo by K. McCloskey

Nathan Hurst liked Paul’s advice to “network with a close knit group of trusted friends.” Paul told us how, in his final weeks of grad school at SVA, he and classmate C.M.Butzer realized they might never again have free access to a photo copier. They created and printed the comic anthology Rabid Rabbit which debuted at MoCCA 2005. It was a hit and SVA gave them a mini-grant to keep the zine afloat.

Birth of Rabid Rabbit by C.M. Butzer from www.rabidrabbit.org
Birth of Rabid Rabbit by C.M. Butzer from http://www.rabidrabbit.org

Paul said Rabid Rabbit grew faster than expected. They got submissions from all over the world. “A guy sent stuff from Australia, and we said Wow! Australia, That’s cool! We wrote to him, ‘You know we don’t pay, we aren’t making any money.’ He said that’s cool and so we printed his story, but mostly we were printing our own work.”

I told Paul how I once got a frank rejection note from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Press in San Fransisco. It said roughly, “Dear Author, Your work has merit; you should publish it yourself. We keep busy publishing books by our friends; try it with your friends! “ Paul said Rabid Rabbit worked on the same basic principle. They knew which classmates were both good artists and dependable, and those are the ones that got in.

Beholder_BOOKS_Misery1234_2_16_820Paul is no longer involved with Rabbit Rabid, but he is still friends with his co-founder and co-conspirators. He is working hard on his nifty Beholder zines. He explained the series is “homage to super hero comics of the Copper Age.Copper? I thought he was kidding. I’d heard of the Golden Age. I remember the Silver Age of the 1950’s and 60’s fondly. It seems there was also Bronze Age (70’s and early 80’s) and Copper Age (late 80’s) for comic books. Who knew?

Paul said his roots are in zines and “that’s what MoCCA is all about.” As he said on his own blog, “Income-wise, illustration prints and my graphic novel Peanut were the heavy hitters, (since they are more expensive). But I also sold more BEHOLDER books than any MoCCA before.”

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I remember where I first saw Paul’s work. Nonfiction graphic essays are one of my favorite things. I really enjoyed Syncopated: Anthology of Non-fiction Picto-Essays edited by Brendan Buford. It has lots of NY stories including an 8-page essay by Paul Hoppe on Coney Island.

 "Coney Island Rumination" visual essay © Paul Hoppe 2009
“Coney Island Rumination” visual essay © Paul Hoppe 2009

Paul has done all sorts of illustrations, ranging from editorial to advertising. His work for children’s books is energetic. The Midwest Book Review wrote of Metal Man, “The vibrant drawings of award-winning artist Paul Hoppe practically burst off the page.”

From the children's book Metal Man written by Aaron Reynolds art © 2010 Paul Hoppe
From the children’s book, Metal Man, written by Aaron Reynolds, art © 2010 Paul Hoppe

Paul’s latest project is a graphic novel for young adults, Peanut, written by Ayun Halliday. It is about a high school girl who fakes a peanut allergy to make herself more interesting. Publisher’s Weekly praised Halliday and Hoppe’s work, “It’s not easy being both hip and life- affirming, but this team has the secret formula.” The NY Times found elements of his cartooning style “especially brilliant.”

from http://paulhoppeblog.blogspot.com/
from http://paulhoppeblog.blogspot.com/

I’m not sure about the cover of Peanut, a photo of a single peanut on a blue field, not even a title! Paul is philosophical, “as an illustrator, sure, I would like my drawing on the cover. But as graphic designer I admit it is quite brilliant. It’s different, eye-catching and stands out in the bookstore. If that gets more people to pick it up, then I love the cover! ”

Paul Hoppe updates his Beholder site with a new page every Monday. Check out cosmicbeholder.blogspot.com  Paul warns it is sometimes NSFW. I had to look that up. It means Not Safe For Work. I’m lucky I teach illustration; looking at comics is part of my job.

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Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Speaking of graphic novels, Prof. Lynn Kutch of Kutztown U has created a new site devoted to The German Graphic Novel. Primarily a resource for language teachers who want to introduce cutting-edge German Graphic novels into their courses, it offers illustrated reviews. Graphic novels of all sorts are classified under broad headings: Biography; Literary Adaptations; Horror; Crime; Modern Life. There are links to individual artists, writers, publishers, and in some cases, to German web-comics. Worth a look, even if you don’t read German, to see what is being published in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany.

Detail from Drüben by Simon Schwartz
Detail from Drüben by Simon Schwartz

NEW SVA MFA in Visual Narrative

Art by Nathan Fox © 2011 detail from GQ  essay on the hunt for Bin Laden
Art by Nathan Fox © 2011 detail from GQ essay on the hunt for Bin Laden.

Nathan Fox will direct the new Visual Narrative MFA program at NY’s School of Visual Arts. Nathan is a comic book artist and illustrator. Like me, he is a grad of SVA’s MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program.

Nathan Fox's covers for Pigeons From Hell, Dark Horse Comics.
Nathan Fox’s covers for Pigeons From Hell, Dark Horse Comics.

Nathan is juiced about what he calls “the future of storytelling.” I asked him how this new MFA is different. For one thing, it is low-residency with an emphasis on the concept of “Artist as Author.” In fact, writing will account for a full 50% of the program. Every student must create a digital version of their narrative. A narrative created for this MFA program might be a graphic novel, but it might also be an interactive game, an animation, or a mix of time-based and traditional media.

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Visiting lecturers naturally include stellar comics artists and graphic novelists. Animators J.J. Sedelmaier and John Canemaker are on board. The program promises some unusual perspectives from game developers, typographers, copyright lawyers, and a neurologist.

Students will work in the studio in Manhattan for three intensive eight-week summer residencies. Nathan tells me the Chelsea area studios will have magnetic walls for slapping up storyboards of work in progress. There will be smart classrooms and pop-up studios and where each artist gets an individual workspace.

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Between summer sessions students go home, but continue their projects online. Nathan envisions eight to ten hours work days, six days a week during the summer sessions.

How Much? If my math is right, the tuition will be near $70,000 for the three summers and two “winters.” I asked my junior level illustration class what they thought of this tuition. Several gasped, our instate undergrad tuition is about $8,500 a year. Hannah Stephey was the exception, she said, “Hey, it is a very specialized and really cool degree! It’s like -You want to be an astronaut?  -You have to go to astronaut school! It’s very specialized; and that’s going to be expensive!”

Tit for Tat © Jennifer Daniel
Tit for Tat © Jennifer Daniel (detail) from Latina Magazine

Jennifer Daniel, known for her witty iconic illustrations and infographics will be on the faculty. “Tit for Tat” piece above is a part of a page of slang terms for women’s breasts appeared that in Latina Magazine. Ross McDonald, whose humorous illustration appears below, is also a faculty member.

Art by Ross McDonald, Faculty member.
Art by Ross McDonald, SVA MFA Visual Narrative Faculty member.

Stellar faculty. Presuming he gets similarly stellar students, Nathan Fox may well be onto something as he races towards the future of storytelling with the MFA Visual Narrative. Apply here if you want in.

For God and Country (detail) drawn by Nathan Fox, ©2010
For God and Country (detail) drawn by Nathan Fox ©2011

By the way, the full visual narrative “For God and Country” on the death of Osama Bin Laden (detail above) can be found at GQ.com. Give it a minute to load. The writing is by Matt Fraction, ably illustrated by Nathan Fox, and superbly colored by Jeromy Fox.

Kutztown Beats Columbia!


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Kutztown Beats Columbia and Dartmouth and Netflix! 

Kutztown University will screen Cartoon College on March 28, 2013. Columbia University and Dartmouth screenings are not until April and who knows when it will show on Netflix? The Free screening for the KU community is Thurs, March 28, Sharadin Art Building, Rm 120, 7:30pm.

inky_solomonHere’s how the filmmakers describe their movie: “Each fall the Center for Cartoon Studies invites 20 aspiring cartoonists and graphic novelists to White River Junction, Vermont for a no-holds-barred education in comics. Those who complete the program earn an MFA and are ready to face the uncertainty of a career in one of the world’s most labor-intensive, drudgery-inducing art forms. CARTOON COLLEGE is their story.”

It features literary comics’ biggest stars, including Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, Art Spiegelman, Francoise Mouly, Scott McCloud, and CCS director, James Sturm.

Art here and above © Joseph Lambert
Art here and poster above © Joseph Lambert

Filmmakers Josh Melrod and Tara Wray funded this movie, in part, by a successful Kickstarter campaign. It has been on the film festival circuit from San Francisco to Palm Beach.

Last month it was a hit at Scotland’s Glasgow Film Fest. UK reviewer Henry Northmore’s wrote “Based in the sleepy town of White Water Junction in Vermont (which looks like an idyllic place to live, work and study), the students’ lives are a mix of geeky bohemia and intense pressure… If you are interested in comics this is an absolutely fascinating look at a new generation of artists/writers, …but even if you are only a casual fan of the medium it gives a human face to an artist’s passion and desire to connect with others via storytelling, highlighting the hard work and dedication involved in this oft overlooked art form.”

Ad from www.cartoonstudies.org
Ad from http://www.cartoonstudies.org for CCS Summer School 2013

In case you are wondering, tuition is north of $17,000 a year for the two-year Cartoon College MFA program. Cartoon College, the movie, is FREE  for the entire Kutztown U community, courtesy of the KU Communication Design Dept. and our student AIGA chapter. Be there: 3/28 @ 7:30pm, Sharadin Art Building. Movie trailer can be seen here.

From Cartoon College: The Movie, by Josh Melrod and Tara Wray
From Cartoon College: The Movie by Josh Melrod and Tara Wray

Kutztown Illustration students who are making zines for the upcoming MOCCAfest will share their work at a table in the lobby after the show!

Special thanks to CCS grad Joseph Lambert for permission to use his art on this page. He’ll be at MOCCAfest, too. His latest comics and illustrations can be found at www.submarinesubmarine.com.

Comics MFA? There is an alternative… No Joke.

Back in the ’80’s, when I told my pal Putka I was getting an MFA in illustration, he laughed, “What’s next?  -a Phd in Wallpaper Hanging?” What’s Next? Looks like the answer is Advanced Comics…

The SAW campus © SAW 2012
The SAW campus © SAW 2012

Stanford is a great university with one respected graphic novel class. But suddenly, universities across the country are offering complete advanced degrees in comics. CCS, the Center for Cartoon Studies, in Vermont has offered a Comics MFA for several years. CCS is not to be confused with CCA, California College of the Arts in San Francisco which is launching a new low-residency MFA in Comics in 2013.

A curious new educational option has sprung up in Florida. It is called SAW for Sequential Art Workshop. Cartoonist Tom Hart who taught for a decade at SVA in NYC has relocated to a storefront on So. Main St. in Gainesville. There, with a group of dedicated faculty and students, he has begun an intensive comics course. SAW’s one-year intensive program is not an accredited MFA, but it cost far less, $3600.

Student show at Saw, August, 2012, used with permission.
Student show at Saw, August, 2012, used with permission.

A student told me this, “Another reason I chose SAW over a degree program is that SAW is very inexpensive, but provides the opportunity to work with really amazing faculty. And though there’s no degree, I believe that in the art world your portfolio is more important than having a degree. So the quality of the education is more important than the diploma.”

Any advice for young artists interested in making zines and comics?
Same student, who now wishes to be anonymous: “Do just that – make zines and comics! Make them and get them out into the world. Trade them with other creators, go to conventions, put them online – get your work out there. And, even more importantly, keep making work. It can get discouraging when it feels like no one is listening, but you just have to keep on going. Don’t get too hung up on your early work, either – your first comics probably won’t be great, so finish them and move on. Set goals by the project. If you make a mistake or don’t like the way it’s turning out, finish the project and then try not to make that mistake in your next one – but don’t get discouraged. Also, even if you think you are going to draw in the most flat, cartoony style, still take the time to learn traditional art skills because your drawing can always benefit from them. If you don’t want to go to a traditional art school, look for local figure drawing sessions or evening classes taught by local artists. Or, better yet, apply to SAW! “

Indie alternatives to institutional higher education in the arts deserve support. Non-credit, off-the-grid, DIY art education centers are popping up all over. Tom Huck’s Woodcut Bootcamp in St. Louis, Maine’s Beehive Design Collective and Pittsburgh’s Cyberpunk Apocalypse are a few examples I’ve seen. I hope to see more. SAW has a fundraising Etsy page with original art by Vanessa DavisDash Shaw, John Porcellino and other important comics artists. Check it out.

Russ Spitkovsky: The Pigeon Has Landed

Rostislav “Russ” Spitkovsky by Kevin McCloskey 2012

Russ Spitkovsky makes things happen. He came to Kutztown as one of the 9 artists in the 2012 Print Invitational at the Miller Gallery.  The founder of the cutting edge art magazine Carrier Pigeon hung artwork from the latest issue at the Eckhaus Gallery on Main St. He circled back this week as a visiting artist to spend time with students.

oil monotype illustration by Russ Spitkovsky for “Hall of Mirrors”

Carrier Pigeon is an artist-driven publication. Russ and friends began it after grad school at SVA’s Illustration as Visual Essay MFA Program. Each issue has works by six fine artists, plus six writers, and six illustrators.

Carrier Pigeon cover by Cannonball Press, Martin Mazorra & Mike Houston

The magazine has included original etchings and woodcuts by Russ and guest artists including Marshall Arisman, Bruce Waldman and Frances Jetter. KU Prof. Evan Summer has contributed to several issues.

Russ speaking to overflow crowd in KU Print studio. Photo by Evan Summer

Russ shared some mind-boggling stories. Like the one about a meth addict who tells his wife he’s spending their life savings importing alpacas, but the alpacas are being held up in customs. There are no alpacas; he’s building a giant meth factory. The factory bursts into flames and meth maker gets encased in glass and, well, I don’t want to ruin the ending. The full story by Ryan Scamehorn called “Hall of Mirrors” can be found in Carrier Pigeon #3. It is fiction; I hope.

Illustration by Marshall Arisman for “Good Dog” by Erin Browne, Carrier Pigeon #7

Digression: Many years ago I sent a book idea to Lawrence Ferlenghetti’s City Lights Press. A few weeks later I got the best rejection letter ever. It said, ‘Your project is so interesting, you should publish it yourself. We are swamped publishing our own friends. Start your own press. Here are some resources…‘  Russ Spitkovsky never got that memo from City Lights, but certainly he embodies the D.I.Y. publishing spirit.

Kevin McCloskey, Moe Tierney, Russ Spitkovsky. Photo by Evan Summer

Russ was born in the Ukraine. Why do so many amazing printmakers come from Eastern Europe?  KU’s Print Invitational includes Michael Goro from Russia, Ivanco Talevski from Macedonia, Endi Poskovic from Sarajevo, and Russ. It occurred to me perhaps these artists find core concepts difficult to express in English and are therefore driven to excel at graphic communication. Russ provided a better insight into why so many extraordinary artists come from places once under the Soviet sphere of influence. Growing up in the Ukraine he showed a precocious talent for art. He was plucked from preschool and put in an art academy. He was drawing the human figure from plaster casts at the age of four.

Illustration by Russ Spitkovsky from Central Booking, his self-published visual essay.

On the night of January 3, 2009, Russ was walking down a Brooklyn street. The police stopped and searched him and found he was carrying a knife. It was an ordinary knife purchased at Home Depot. The NYPD decided it was a lethal weapon, “a gravity knife,” and threw him in jail. He spent the next 32 hours in an overcrowded holding cell at Brooklyn’s Central Booking. Charges were dropped, but Russ made art from the experience. Upon his release, drawing from memory, he transformed that grotesque night into a visual essay in book form. He published “Central Booking” via the print-on-demand publisher Blurb. The book was not a financial success, but led him to explore other self-publishing options.

Russ loves working with the likes of Martin Mazorra and Mike Houston of Brooklyn’s Cannonball Press. Russ calls Cannonball Press the pioneers of the indy press and affordable art movements. Russ advises art and illustration students not to hole up in their studios after graduation. “Find a co-op print shop; work among other artists.” He said the community of Robert Blackburn’s  NYC printmaking studio saved his sanity. He was able to get instant feedback on his art and stay in a creative loop.

Today, Russ works not only with graphic artists, but an ever-expanding community of playwrights, jugglers, Coney Island sideshow performers and puppeteers. Strange doors keep opening for Russ. Recently someone gifted Carrier Pigeon with a building in Gutenberg, NJ. To keep up with Carrier Pigeon news and events visit their Facebook page.

Justin Sanz, Eckhaus workers Nicole and Megan, Russ. Photo from http://www.eckhausgallery.org/

If you are fortunate enough to be in Kutztown, PA, get to Eckhaus to see the original art from Carrier Pigeon. There are copies of the latest issues for sale. Each issue costs $25. Twenty-five bucks is a lot of money for a magazine, but not a lot for a work of art.

Picking an Art School

Some of this may relate to other art and design majors, but I’m focusing on illustration. I often talk with talented high school students considering studying art at college. My advice should be taken with a grain of salt. It took me 17 years to get my bachelor’s degree. During those wonder years I studied at all sorts of schools, metropolitan private art schools, rural state universities, and even an inner-city community college.

SVA poster by Robert Weaver, circa 1980.

The first thing one has to learn is the difference between various sorts of art schools. There are state schools (Kutztown), state supported schools (Tyler), and private schools (University of the Arts, Phila.) and there are also many proprietary schools. A proprietary school is a for-profit college or university. Generally proprietary art schools that advertise on gaming sites, on FM radio, or those that offer a free laptop are to be avoided. The most dubious of these institutions are not accredited. Avoid any “college” or  “institute” that has no accreditation. We’ve had students come to Kutztown after studying two years at a non-accredited art school who are near tears when they learn that zero credits transfer from their previous school. They might as well have not gone to college. In my opinion, a non-accredited school is the worst sort of place to study illustration. The U.S. Dept of Education has a web database where you can check to make sure a post-secondary school is accredited.

Nearly as bad as unaccredited proprietary schools are small private liberal arts colleges known for general education. No good art school has a duck pond. These small liberal arts colleges are likely to be accredited by a regional body. They might have one talented teacher who teaches every art course from ceramics to lithography to 3-D modeling. Let’s suppose this prof has those requisite Renaissance Man/Woman qualities, imagine having a personality conflict with the only prof who teaches every course you need to study. Don’t go there.

Proprietary schools are not necessarily scams. I got my graduate degree from SVA, The School of Visual Arts, in New York City. SVA was founded by Silas Rhodes and Burne Hogarth, who drew the comic Tarzan better than anyone. Originally SVA was founded as The Cartoonists and Illustrators School. Yowsa! I’m glad they changed that name; that wouldn’t look so good in Comic Sans on my diploma. In the beginning SVA catered to G.I. Bill veterans who wanted to live the artist’s life in Manhattan. Despite its, pardon the pun, sketchy origins, today SVA is fully accredited. It is also very pricey and a moneymaker for the Rhodes family. That said, if you can afford SVA, there are some advantages: Location, Location, Location, and the reputation of the faculty. Many of its teachers are giants in the field, Steven Heller, Marshall Arisman, Stefan Sagmeister, Jessica Abel, Paula Scher, Milton Glaser, to name a few past and present. I’m glad I went there.

Why Pay Retail?

Let’s say you can’t afford the roughly $150,000 for a four-year SVA degree, but you live within commuting distance of NYC. For about $400, consider one of SVA’s one semester continuing education courses. For example, illustrator John Ruggeri teaches “Drawing New York City on Location.” He takes students on nightly sketch excursions to Chinatown, South Street Seaport, Night Court, and Grand Central Terminal. I didn’t pick that course at random. John was one on my gifted classmates and has earned SVA’s distinguished teacher award. His visual essays have appeared in leading magazines including The New York Times, Seventeen, Mademoiselle, Print, and Rolling Stone.

It is possible to get a NYC art education for less than retail if one lives close enough. For example, a New Jersey resident might study full-time at Montclair State, a good art school in its own right, and take a continuing ed course in Manhattan each semester. Not just SVA, but Pratt, Parsons, and FIT all offer continuing ed bargains. Sometimes you end up in a class with regular undergrads. In some cases the course credits might transfer and count toward your degree; do your research. You might also be able to take a short workshop course at an artist’s studio. NYC’s Society of Illustrators occasionally has one night workshops with celebrated professionals. Greg Spalenka recently taught his intensive 3-day “Artist as Brand” seminar there for $295.

This continuing ed principle can be used in other metropolitan areas. SAIC, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is another prestigious art school that offers continuing ed courses. You get to add a line on your resume underneath ‘BFA Graduate of East Bypass UniversityStudied at SAIC.’ If the faculty member is a star in your chosen field, you might put their name there, too.

Next week I will post my thoughts about studying at state colleges and let you know the school in that category that impresses me most.