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Nick Hermida Illustration

At Otis College, we create thinkers and sophisticated image makers who balance real world practice and fearless experimentation. Individual vision, professionalism, collaboration, and an entrepreneurial spirit are encouraged throughout our rich curriculum. Throughout their studies, students will learn real-world skills from leading illustrators, artists, and entrepreneurs through engaging  coursework, visiting lectures, workshops, and field trips designed to  prepare  graduates for the diverse and expanding field of Illustration.

The program encourages students to locate  and utilize the creative potential of each  course they take at the college. The department is proud to graduate well-rounded students who understand the complexities of their globalized world and the vital role they play in shaping the way society communicates through visual means. Assignments ask students to research global issues such as climate change and cross-cultural communication in Illustration  I, II, III, IV courses during their second and third  years. Fourth year students  also voluntarily undertake final projects based on research into significant, global concerns that range from mental health to climate change.

Learning Outcomes

Students majoring in Illustration will:

  • Engage and utilize past and present theories and histories while evidencing professional mastery of relevant methodologies, skills, and tools applied to a broad range of media.
  • Cultivate, model, and continuously improve confidence in their communication skills, including listening, writing, empathizing, negotiating, presenting, critiquing, and reflecting
  • Define, iterate, and evaluate solutions for problems using a forward-thinking and reflective studio practice.
  • Apply purposeful risk taking designed to produce content, concepts, and formal outcomes that feed personal passions and professional growth with the aim of positively impacting the future of humanity.
  • Demonstrate best professional practices, including editing and presentation of work, networking, time management, project planning, budgeting, and collaboration.
  • Actively seek out and utilize cross-disciplinary studies and extracurricular activities so as to grow as a well-rounded artist and engaged citizen of the world.

Notes for Degree Requirements on the Next Pages

*These courses may be taken in either fall or spring semester. Courses in gray are described in Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Program Structure

Immersion and Experimentation

During  the  second year, illustrators create projects that engage multiple media through intensive iterative processes. Students create short publications or zines that visually address formal concerns from the history of illustration, across cultures, ideologies, and time, from Native Inuit visual traditions to the Arts and Crafts movement, to Pop Art and beyond. They engage in a wealth of formal explorations including collage, painting, drawing, and 3D construction. After intense production, students practice editing and critique skills to fine tune what becomes their final publication This  assignment also complements the course of study second year students  undertake in their Fall LAS History of Graphic Design and Illustration class. In this art history class students engage the traditional historical canon from Prehistory through Modernism and Postmodernism, with added emphasis on exploring under-represented innovations, histories, cultures, and artists from Western and Non-Western origins. 

In the Spring Illustration II class, students  work in more narrative and motion-based platforms, creating gifs and videos alongside printed ephemera addressing a changing selection of potential clients. In addition to the zine project, all second year students  complete a poster project designed to advertise a business and nonprofit. This assignment requires them to  research potential avenues of production as well as engage in contemporary social and political issues. Working in the traditional poster medium allows students to put into action the illustration and design principles they have developed throughout the year. Illustration students in particular use this project as a way to contemplate the power of form in relation to content and engage in cutting edge,traditional illustrative applications. 

Drawing and Painting I and II (VIII.I.c) explore how drawn and painted form can serve to further meaning, in the form of a narrative, message, or concept. These courses emphasize the power of drawing to make thought visible and assignments have students engage in rigorous sketching, storyboarding, iteration, and refinement to complete challenging projects in poster design, book cover design, editorial illustration, and other multimedia. By  fine-tuning valuable techniques ranging from basic perspective studies, to life drawing, to color theory, along with experimental analog and digital techniques, students develop confidence and an emerging sense of their “style.” This way of thinking, seeing, and creating  results in visual solutions that students  understand and can call their own. Ultimately, Drawing and Painting I and II courses empower students to appreciate classical approaches while encouraging more experimental ones. 

Second year  illustrators also take a Typography for Illustrators (VIII.I.c) course designed to address the role illustration plays in typographic communication. This course addresses hand-made typographic techniques, three-dimensional typographic applications, classical typographic systems, and type in motion with assignments resulting in posters, books, videos and other outcomes relevant to the world of illustration today. These skills prove invaluable for future courses that require  students to deploy typography alongside their illustrations.

Professional preparation and public presentation

Students build upon skills acquired during  their second year and work in a more public-facing manner as they research and execute interviews for internships and jobs outside of school. Illustration III and IV courses emphasize independent problem solving and creating work for a professional portfolio. Projects mimic real-world client assignments and are longer and fewer in number to emphasize the need for good time-management skills to execute planned research, studio production, iteration, editing, and final production. Students create multi-media work, narrative movies, and gifs, as well as graphic novels designed to evidence their understanding of illustration as a critical component of visual narration. 

Professional Practice has a dedicated class in the fall of the third year. Students use this class to build the necessary elements needed to apply for jobs and internships and/or begin their own self-directed business in the professional world. They create resumes, cover letters, websites, business cards, portfolios, and promotional materials. Students also explore the professional landscape, researching important illustrators, art directors, and professional opportunities that matter to them. Students work on “pitching” themselves to real-world entities in casual and professional circumstances, which prepares them to make the best use of the college’s Internship Fair in the Spring. This helps students to recognize their unique brand and prioritize their aesthetic and professional goals.

Illustration students are encouraged to take printmaking in their third year. Choosing from the many courses offered, students have an opportunity to learn production practices and standards for creating work in multiples and editions. Printmaking also assists students in creating useful promotional materials they can employ in their professional practice class,their job/internship searches, and their independent business endeavors.

Innovation and Independence

The fourth year Studio course in the Spring challenges students to embark on a wholly self-directed course of inquiry by planning, iterating, and executing one or more projects of their own choosing. Working closely with faculty, students plan for how they will execute their work, providing a weekly timeline and budget updates. They use class time to work on their projects, often utilizing the many cross-disciplinary resources and technologies the college has to offer. Students check in regularly during structured small and large group critiques and are required to present their progress during midterm and final presentations. The course culminates in students presenting their work as part of the final senior presentations before exhibiting their work  at the O-Launch annual exhibition. This course provides students with a tangible experience of what an independent, self-reliant practice can be for them following graduation. 

Additionally, fourth year students enroll in an Alternative Materials course that emphasizes self-initiated research and production (VIII.I.c). Alternative Materials has students explore a variety of materials and techniques, from cyanotypes to rapid prototyping, with the aim of making students more comfortable and proficient with the tools at their disposal. The experimentation and independence emphasized in this course prepares students to make truly unique and self-directed work during  their fourth year, most often exhibited as part of the annual exhibition,accentuating the student’s intense focus on their emerging voice, style, and beliefs.