Three female students sitting at table in cluttered art room laughing, painting

A Quick Guide to Majoring in Illustration in College

Interested in pursuing an Illustration major in college? Check out what you'll learn, where you can study, and what careers you can pursue with this degree.

Do you love drawing and creating art? Do you want a career as an artist? Do you want to go to college and study something you love? If you answered yes to all these questions, Illustration might be the perfect college major for you. Majoring in Illustration allows you to identify your strengths in the art field and can lead to a surplus of jobs, from graphic designer to concept artist or even a freelancer. Pursuing this type of career is very rewarding but it takes a lot of time and effort to get there. A great first step is majoring in Illustration in college to prepare you for all your future opportunities. Here’s what else you should know about this major and the career paths it can lead to.

All about Illustration

With a stroke of a pencil, artists can bring their creativity and emotions to life. At most colleges and universities, you’ll only be able to get a simple Fine Arts degree. This degree covers a wide range of art areas like painting, sculpting, and drawing. But majoring in Illustration is quite common at art schools, where students home in on a specific set of skills. When majoring in Illustration, you’ll be learning more in-depth about topics like drawing, design, and color theory. This major covers both traditional and digital techniques to make you more of a well-rounded artist, allowing you to collaborate with authors and preparing you for your future career.

Related: What Are College Art Classes Like? 

Colleges with Illustration majors and famous alumni

Colleges like the University of California, Los Angeles; Savannah College of Art and Design; and the School of Visual Arts in New York City are known for their high level of teaching in the art field. But many colleges offer majors or minors in Illustration and produce excellent and highly successful alumni. Here are a few artists that you may not have known were behind the cartoons: 

  • Derek Drymon (School of Visual Arts ’87) is a storyboard artist for many Nickelodeon shows like Spongebob Squarepants and CatDog
  • Tracy Yardley (Savannah College of Art and Design ’01) is a comic book artist who worked on Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Eric Teitelbaum (University of California, Los Angeles ’68) is a cartoonist who created the comic strip Pink Panther.

Art courses in college

Basic courses like drawing, design, art history, and graphic design are prime examples of what many colleges make you take as an Art major. Classes like Drawing 101 and Design 101 will be courses you’ll take in the beginning of your academic career. After your freshman year, you’ll start to dive deeper into more specific courses related to your Illustration major, like color theory and character design. When taking art classes in college, you should expect to spend a lot of time on your art projects and homework. Spending hours on details just to make your art look visually appealing is common. You have to enjoy art and have a love for your craft to succeed.

Careers Illustration can lead to

There are so many things you can do with an Illustration degree. Illustrators work in a variety of fields, from fashion and digital media to map and book illustration. But you don’t have to become an illustrator; you could also become a graphic designer, an animator, or even a muralist. All your hard work will finally pay off when your passion turns into a job. You can work for companies like Disney and Pixar, bringing other people’s characters to life, or work for yourself and be your own boss.

Related: Alma Maters of Cartoonists

In the end, deciding on a major is hard, but knowing and following your interests and hobbies can make it so much easier. Taking artistic courses in college will help you decide if you want to become an artist for your career. College is a time to explore and determine your strengths, helping prepare you for your future. By majoring in Illustration, you can explore your artistic abilities and launch yourself on many amazing creative career paths.

Looking for colleges with top-notch art departments and majors? Check out our featured Visual Arts School Profiles and request more info in just one click!

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About Yukeena Waye

Yukeena Waye is a high school senior from Georgia. Other than school, she loves reading, writing, and drawing. 


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