Is there anyone that is familiar with VCU's (Virginia Commonwealth University) illustration program. I've also been considering Art Center, but since am a resident of Virginia I would be saving a load of money by going to VCU. I've heard great things about Art Center's illustration program and how the school is very design oriented, which I'm definantly looking for in a school. I was just wondering if VCU's illustration program is similar. I'm planing on visiting both schools but just wanted some opinions from anyone who might be fimiliar with both schools. Thanks in advance.
I went to VCU in the '80s, and my daughter is going to start there in the Fall. You may not know it, but painter and illustrator George Pratt is teaching in the Communication Arts department (essentially what used to be the illustration half of "Communication Arts and Design" in my day, now split off into its own department), and I wrote him to ask about the department as it stands now. He graciously responded with a long email, and I hope he won't mind if I excerpt a bit here:
"For the last year we've been working diligently on revamping our curriculum and I think we've made great headway. The core of our department now will be centered on Drawing and Concept. I came in and was shocked that many of the students just didn't know how to draw. They had been constantly drilled with turning out highly polished renderings of the human figure but they couldn't do anything with the limited skill it gave them. I immediately pushed my classes to basic drawing and painting. My figure classes are drawing from the live model and no pose is over ten minutes. Lots of quick drawing, getting at the gesture and the spirit of the poses. Less about detail, more on the life. I also found they had little to no color theory, and, amazingly, had done little to no color work, painting. So I pushed one of my technique classes to pure painting. Now there's a lot of painting going on and the level of drawing skill is climbing constantly."
It sounds like they've been turning that department into a great space to learn, with some real instruction going on (something that was sometimes lacking when I went there).