Not an Ordinary MFA
We are in the process of admitting our 7th class; where have the last few years gone? Students come to us from all across the United States—as well as internationally—seeking illustration stimulation and an infusion of ideas, looking to enhance their illustration skills, and for their advanced degree for a career in education. The students who register for our program are already professionals in the field of illustration or design, as well as illustration education, and are truly the magic in the program.
As a student in the program, you will work closely with leading illustrators in the only low-residency MFA program in the country dedicated exclusively to illustration, all the while maintaining your current professional and personal commitments. While executing their assignments, students will learn to initiate their own assignments, polish their skills in marketing and promotion, and have the opportunity to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills. Students will benefit immeasurably by studying alongside other highly motivated and talented artists, who share their commitment to the field of illustration.
Our summer contact period is in July in Hartford, Connecticut, where our world class, award-winning faculty converge from all around the country. They are the very best educators that I have met in my many years of illustration education.
This program exposes you to career-altering experiences unparalleled anywhere in the field of illustration education. You will never feel as though you are alone in your studio again. You will have mentors and friends from all over that you can reach out to, compare thoughts with, ask advice of, and share your triumphs with.
Please check out our new website and this blog to find out more about our program, alumni, students, faculty and administration.
Limited Residency MFA in Illustration
from Students and Alumni
Have you ever thought about getting your MFA in Illustration, but were worried about the time commitment, the cost, having to move, etc? Well, I just want to take a moment to put in a plug for the Low Residency MFA in Illustration at the Hartford Art School. I am in the midst of my first year in the program, and since beginning the program in July I have my first two children's book proposals under review, I have gotten work from a dream client, I have had my work re-energized, my understanding of the history of the field of illustration has deepened, and my circle of illustration contacts and friends has expanded to include folks from across the country who work not only in the children's and fantasy markets, but who do concept work, editorial, licensing, and more.
For me, the best part about the program is that my classmates and the faculty are ALL working illustrators. Many of my classmates are mid-career, so have quite a lot of experience in the field, and at least half of them are already teaching on a college level. Every single person involved in the program, whether faculty or student, is a great resource for information and feedback.
The program is structured so that its students can continue to live their lives, so that it won't disrupt their freelance or teaching careers, or their other full or part-time jobs. Those that have families don't have to move, or be limited to only what is offered nearby. We are technically full-time students, but only meet for a total of four weeks out of the year for two years (three summers). These one or two-week intensives are exactly that—intense! I always come away from them full of inspiration and new ideas. In-between the intensives we work on some small assignments, and most importantly we develop our thesis projects. For a lot of students, the thesis is something that they have been wanting to work on for a while, but needed some motivation and guidance to make it happen. I have been working on my thesis for 7 months now, and have over a year to go, and I am incredibly excited about it. I'm sure I'll do some posting about it in the months to come.
So that's my little pitch for this fabulous program. If you are thinking about getting your MFA and the low residency format sounds right for you, you can read more about it on the website here. Be sure to check out the mind-blowingly amazing list of faculty, and links to the work of current students.
Rebecca Solow (Class of 2013)
If you've ever considered an MFA in Illustration, I cannot recommend this program enough. The low residency nature of the program allows you to continue to work and live at home, while still getting instruction and attending lectures from some of the finest illustrators working today, including C.F. Payne, Gary Kelley, Bunny Carter, Bill Thomson, Zina Saunders, and of course the director Murray Tinkelman. Through this program I have been able to tour Lucas Films at the Presidio, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the New Britain Museum, and so many others. I've attended inspirational lectures by leaders like my own hero Peter de Sève, Noah Klocek, and Paul Rogers.
Hartford's program gave me the focus and education needed to be able to compete in the illustration field. I am a bit embarrassed to admit it, but despite the fact that I held a BA in Art Studio and a minor in Art History, I really knew almost nothing about the history of illustration or even the names of many contemporary illustrators. The MFA filled this gap for me. While I will forever be getting more skillful and playing with new styles, thanks to Hartford I now really know how to THINK about illustration, how to approach a drawing, how to compose an idea—intellectual concepts that won't change whether I'm drawing with a piece of charcoal or on a Cintiq tablet.
So if you are a professional illustrator with a couple of years under your belt and you're interested in taking the next step, please check the program out!
Aja Wells (Class of 2012)
Reposted with permission from the blog of Josh Brunet (Class of 2011)
It's been a short while since I graduated from The Hartford Art School with my MFA in Illustration. It was an incredible, life-changing experience, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to brag on my program a little bit.
The photo above was taken during our San Francisco critique in Hartford, July 2011 with the combined classes of 2011, 2012 and 2013. This is only a fraction of our faculty, but look at the talent and fame represented by the illustrators in this picture. Starting at the top with the Casey at the Bat book we have C. F. Payne. Moving right is Bill Thomson, Murray Tinkelman, Doug Andersen, Ted Lewin, Betsy Lewin and Gary Kelley! These are the faculty—these are the professionals guiding and directing us to be the best we can be! Every day I went to class to learn from my illustration heroes... like I said, it was life changing. I'd like to think my art has been lifted up to a new level of excellence. Thank you Murray and the staff and faculty at the Hartford Art School's MFA in Illustration program. I will miss you immensely.
Josh Brunet (Class of 2011)
"I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Low Residency MFA in Illustration program at The Hartford Art School - to focus on my career path, establish contacts in the business, and get the creative juices flowing again. I gained all of this, and so much more! Through exposure to the greatest illustrators in the industry and full immersion in a creative environment, I gained a wealth of knowledge and my skills improved exponentially in just a short time. The traveling contact periods were like "Art Boot Camp." These sessions were invigorating and inspiring, as a community of talented, accomplished illustrators and illustration educators came together, setting aside preconceived notions about who we thought we were. We all encouraged each other to explore our own unique, creative voice and strive for our true potential. This community gave me the support I needed to surpass self-imposed limitations and truly grow as an artist. Through this bonding experience, I formed lifelong friendships and built a network of professionals whom I can call upon for advice anytime along my career path. The program gave me the courage and the means to leave the corporate world of architecture, and focus on my illustration. The infectious enthusiasm of the faculty ignited in me a strong passion for teaching, and this program gave me the means to launch my new career in education. Upon graduation, I felt fully prepared to share my knowledge and experience with aspiring artists. Because of my association with the Tinkelmans and this program, I have been teaching for the Art Institute Online Division for the last year and a half. This fall, I will be starting a full-time position with the Foundations Department at Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design.
Everyone comes to the program with their own set of expectations, but everyone leaves with a community of like-minded friends and colleagues, a better sense of who they are and want to be as an illustrator, and the tools to make their dreams come true. I far exceeded my own expectations and am excited to embark upon this new path in my artistic journey! The Low Residency MFA in Illustration program was an invaluable, life-changing experience."
Charlotte A. Ricker (Class of 2010)
"One of the best things about the program is the exposure to so many talented diverse illustrators. Each has different outlooks and different techniques but I learned something that applied to my own personal growth from every contact. The feedback, tips and encouragement I received from my instructors, lecturers and peers has been invaluable. Illustrators work in relative isolation and it is so great to be able to send out an e-mail containing a work in progress to my fellow students, who are some of the most talented illustrators working in the field today, and ask 'What would you do to make this better?'"
Charles (Chuck) Primeau (Class of 2009)
"Hartford gave me permission to be myself. What I mean is that Hartford is personally focused and continually pushes you back on yourself. 'What do you think about this idea? What was your impression of this speaker? What would you do to take this illustration further? What topic would you like to work with? How do you plan on marketing this body of work? How do you define success? What is your path?'
It is not a program for those looking for direction from others, but guidance for you to begin to answer some questions and ask others. It is a program that prepares you to constantly push yourself, challenge the obvious, go beyond the client and beyond the trends. It is a program that demanded I be myself.
I discovered that after a career of being secondary to client, market, and content, I actually had a point of view and personal style and could represent myself as a graphic designer and illustrator. Hartford gave me permission and the confidence to be me."
Q Cassetti (Class of 2009)
"The Hartford program provides a rich environment for all who enter. It gave me the opportunity to reach beyond my goals for personal growth with the support of instructors and peers who are the best in the field of illustration. I came to this program looking for a community and left with an extended family that continues to help foster my development.."
Lori Ann Levy-Holm (Class of 2009)
"As a teacher, I frequently say that the biggest hurdle to overcome as an artist is the idea that you know anything about what you are drawing. You must set aside what you think you know to really see what is in front of you, in order to be able to draw it. Sometimes it is just as hard to set aside what you think you know about your art to really see yourself as an artist, in order to make the art you want to make. This program makes it possible to do that. If it did nothing more, that would be reason enough to come. But the Limited residency MFA program is so much more."
BJ Becker (Class of 2009)
"Personally, the MFA program has allowed me to step out of the solitude of the freelancer and into a community of artists and teachers who offer different viewpoints, techniques and methodologies. Connections made during the program; sharing ideas; being exposed to other markets; and being immersed in the creative energy of fellow artists has been invaluable."
Jacqueline Decker (Class of 2009)
"I'm in my first year with the program and can say without hesitation it's the best thing you can do for yourself as an illustrator. Whether you're going in to reinvent yourself as an illustrator or just need some plans on ways to market yourself (and just about everything in between, including a career in education) this program is dedicated to your cause. And you'll be getting advice from some of the top names in the field. This fall we met with Ted and Betsy Lewin, Leo and Diane Dillon, Burt Silverman, Peter De Seve, Arnie Roth, Walt and Roger Reed Steve Brodner, Joe Ciardiello… the list goes on."
David Labrozzi (Class of 2010)
President, Illustrators Club of Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia
"Murray teaches by inspiration. Is there a better way? His passion for illustration is contagious and in some mysterious way, exposure to him helps you to be a better teacher and artist. He keeps the flow going by surrounding himself with other illustrators and teachers who share his passion. Carol effortlessly (apparently) holds everything together. She operates way beyond the scope of her job description. This program is like joining a huge Conga line. You join on and join in not knowing where it will take you but you wind up in a better place, with a terminal degree to boot!! I feel so fortunate to have had my life touched by Murray and Carol Tinkelman, both academically and personally. There are not enough words."
Linda Warner Constantino (Class of 2007)
Faculty: Savannah College of Art & Design
"My time in this Limited Residency MFA in Illustration program has been a whirlwind and a life-changing experience. This program has given me the extra edge to really direct my own creative destiny. I feel liberated and exhausted. This July 2008, I will graduate with the highest degree available in my field; with classmates and mentors whom I adore, with friendships I will cherish and with a body of work that I feel I waited a lifetime to realize. Hartford Art School was one of the best things I could have done for myself."
Anne Catharine Blake (Class of 2008)
"From the first day at Hartford I knew I was where I belonged. Having the opportunity to study with these instructors and fellow students is inspiring, motivating, amazing and just plain fun. My fellow students are also professionals whom I’ve respected and admired for years. Traveling to various illustration Mecca's and meeting the professionals I’ve admired since the beginning of my career, is an experience that I’d never have without the Hartford Illustration MFA program. No matter where you are in your illustration career, you haven’t come as far as you can until you’ve been through his program. My confidence and skill level have gone way up, thanks to the support and encouragement of the faculty and my fellow students at Hartford. After 25 years in this industry, my passion for illustration has been rekindled."
Ron Spears (Class of 2009)
"The Hartford MFA in Illustration is unique in that it brings together top illustrators in the country, students who are active illustrators and teachers, and the opportunity to engage with practitioners around the country. Murray Tinkelman, walking encyclopedia of illustration, is key to the program. But this is more than "Murray's program." Hartford faculty are talented professionals and experienced teachers, more than willing to share what they know (and they know a lot). Guest faculty are top talents, and guest presenters are well known practitioners working in a range of illustration genres. The fact that students have years of professional experience and are often faculty members themselves adds greatly to the Hartford experience. For illustrators who want to take their work to the next level, and teachers who want to increase their knowledge of the history and craft of illustration, the Hartford MFA in Illustration is worth a look."
Bob Dahm (Class of 2007)
Assistant Professor, Interim Design Chair,
American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE
"Choosing to take part in the Limited Residency Master of Fine Arts in Illustration program was one of my life-defining decisions. I found it challenging, informative and inspiring. I took risks I wouldn’t have taken on my own and learned a great deal about my work and myself. I learned more in this program than in the total of all my previous studies. Through those risks and challenges my work has improved substantially. Never before have I completed so much work and to have my work improve so greatly is an added bonus for which I am most grateful. As an artist, I couldn’t be happier with the development and growth I achieved in such a short time. The program opened my eyes to different avenues that I’m exploring for new opportunities. So many wonderful things have happened because of the experience. My work is so much more alive. I have increased my illustration business and have been hired for new teaching opportunities. And it hasn’t even been a year since I graduated. However, the most important part of the program has been all the people I have met. They touched my creative soul and I will carry the experience through the rest of my life. What I have learned from the Hartford Art School has opened my world more fully; a world where I am more confident in my creating, where I’m more open to the endless possibilities and where my dreams are coming true."
Susan Brereton (Class of 2007)
"The MFA in Illustration program at the Hartford Art School offers an outstanding environment for growth as a young illustrator. This wonderful program run by Murray and Carol Tinkelman has brought together a group of enormously talented Professors and Illustrators from around the country. For me, being in the classroom with such a talented group has taken my illustrations to another level far beyond my expectations. I have found that the more experienced students have taken me under their wing and have provided me with some of the best advice and tutelage that I could ever imagine. When together as a group, there is a certain level of magic that happens and the bonds that we have created with one another are something that will last forever. As a group, our egos are left behind, and we all look out for one another. There is a genuine concern amongst us for helping one another grow as artists and individuals, and that's a wonderful thing!"
Daniel Yagmin Jr. (Class of 2009)
"The Limited Residency MFA Illustration program at the Hartford Art School allows illustrators the ability to work on projects that can define our careers with the support of amazingly talented, professional peers, under the guidance of giants of our field with the support of a university that is both innovative and dedicated to illustration."
Durwin Talon (Class of 2008)
Faculty: Savannah College of Art & Design