Composition, light, form, and spatial relations. The ways in which an applicant addresses these issues are important considerations in all SVA portfolio reviews. They become especially important to the stories being told by Illustration majors.
Drawing and painting provide an immediate form of communication for artists and can readily demonstrate an applicant’s story-telling abilities. As such, applicants seeking admission to the Department of Illustration are asked to submit 15 to 20 pieces of recent work that includes drawing and color work and offers a look at their storytelling skills and experiences in these areas.
Direct Observation Work
Work done from or based upon the direct observation of life is strongly recommended for inclusion in Illustration portfolios. This type of work requires the applicant to interpret the three-dimensional world in two-dimensional terms. It also places the reviewer on a common ground with the artist. This allows for a discussion and critique of the work and the creative process in a context and experience that is familiar to both parties. Examples of this work can include self-portraits (using a mirror for reference), figure drawings, object studies, still lifes, interior scenes, and landscapes.
Copying work from two-dimensional references (like photographs or magazines) can be useful when learning to work with a specific tool or medium. However, once confidence is gained with that tool or medium, the individual should begin working from the direct observation of life. Otherwise, the reviewer will learn much about the technical skills of the applicant and little about their creative problem solving skills. This is due to the fact that the author of the reference image has already made the important decisions. It is recommended that work done from two-dimensional references be kept to a minimum.
Work done solely from the imagination can offer helpful insights into the way in which an applicant deals with issues of composition, light, form, and spatial relations. Unfortunately, this work can often lead to a one-sided conversation and success can rest too much on the degree to which an applicant can control these elements. This type of exploration is encouraged but should also be supported by direct observation experience.
Comics and Cartoons
Cartooning applicants are encouraged to share their "professional" interests and abilities with the College. Applicants who publish their own zines, create graphic novels, or run their own strips should include these as part of their portfolio. However, applicants should be careful not to overload their portfolios with images of comic or cartoon characters. Though character development is essential to success in the illustration world, the ability to take objects (people, places, things) that exist in the real, three-dimensional world and place them believably in the two-dimensional picture plane is key at this point. This potential is better demonstrated at the point of admission by direct observation work.
Design projects and computer-generated images can be included in a portfolio. However, applicants must be careful that the work submitted is not so much about what a computer program can do but what the applicant can do with a computer program. It is recommended that this type of work be kept to a minimum and is submitted in conjunction with drawing, painting, and/or sculpture.