.
UndergraduateGraduateContinuing EducationSpecial ProgramsAbout SVAStudent LifeAttend SVAAfter SVA

The MFA Visual Narrative is a flexible, low-residency program designed for working professionals and students of visual storytelling alike. Three onsite summer sessions are connected by two years of online study during the fall and spring semesters. After each summer session and academic year, students must receive an acceptable review from a faculty panel in order to continue in the program. Degree candidates must successfully complete 60 credits, including all required courses.

During the eight-week summer sessions, students attend classes and seminars, and work in the studios for 8 to 10 hours per day, six days a week. Several evenings are devoted to digital/interactive tutorials, critiques and lectures. Capitalizing on New York City’s rich array of culture, research trips including contemporary artists events, studio visits and other activities will take place during workshops and on weekends. The summer sessions concentrate on advanced writing, digital media and technique-based workshops. Working in tandem, the creative writing and visual studio workshops as well as analog and digital media studios create a unique and intensive environment— allowing the author-as-artist to thrive.

Throughout the fall and spring semesters, students fulfill the studio components of the online program, with supervision from their course instructor and support from their chosen mentor. Creative writing is assigned in coordination with the online studio story course. This important component includes online submission [posting] of written and visual materials. In the third year, each student is responsible for producing, curating and/or publishing a unique narrative thesis, which will be exhibited in a group show in one of the SVA galleries. Both analog and digital versions of each thesis project must be approved by the Thesis Committee, the student’s mentor and the department chair in order to be eligible for degree conferral. 

MFA Visual Narrative General Course Listing

Summer, Fall, Spring I

 

VNG-5040-A

Black, White and One Color

Summer semester: 3 credits

Lighting, temperature, character, mood, setting, continuity and rhythm: These are but a few of the basic, yet fundamental, building blocks of visual storytelling. Favoring content and narrative over finished product, this course aims to help students examine their assumptions of these visual fundamentals in their own work through a limited and focused palette. Using only black and white, mixed with spot colors, students will be given a series of exercises that are intended to disrupt and challenge current working methods. The goal is to gain a better understanding of storytelling as both artists and as authors.

 

VNG-5080-A

Analog to Digital: Dynamic Transformations

Summer semester: 3 credits

The proliferation and advancements in technology and mobile media have redefined, if not revolutionized, how narrative art is created. The goal of this course is to give students an understanding of digital image-making and basic motion graphics for print and web. We will explore the unique tools of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects, how the programs overlap and intersect with each other, and how to integrate traditional analog techniques into the digital realm. Students will discover a variety of methods for producing digital images, and how to translate a stationary vision into the more dynamic world of motion. The evolution of storytelling from analog to digitized new media and the future of storytelling will be reviewed.

 

VNG-5130-A

Narrative Writing

Summer semester: 3 credits

An author is broadly defined as “one who originates or gives existence to anything; a creator.” More narrowly defined, it’s someone who practices writing as a profession. Skilled writers use language to successfully portray individual ideas and unique images, and skilled visual artists can take those ideas and images and push them far beyond the written word. Combine the two and great things can happen. Exploring the “artist as author” is the goal of this workshop. Personal artistic voice will be explored through on-location and in-class writing exercises, often done in tandem with, and inspired by, images created in VNG-5040, Black, White and One Color. Universal themes present in literary genres and popular culture will be analyzed and debated. Students will be required to keep a written journal to help them promote, practice and refine a relationship between visual and narrative storytelling. An extensive reading list will be scrutinized and discussed, and lectures by guest authors will be scheduled.

 

VNG-5170-A

History of Visual Storytelling

Summer semester: 3 credits

This seminar provides an overview of visual storytelling in photography and graphic media. It will examine the evolution of children’s books, comics and photography as the departure point for different approaches to telling a story with words and pictures. A thorough history of these art forms and their various points of intersection will be given, from children’s adventure books to comic strips and photojournalism to modernist approaches to storytelling, the underground revolu­tion and contemporary digital photography. Guest artists and lecturers will address the class and field trips to local archives and collections will be organized.

 

VNG-5540-OL

Story Visualized

Fall semester: 3 credits

In this course, students will explore concepts and techniques for telling stories with images and words, learning by reading and viewing examples from comics, film, literature, and other media. Short assignments during the first semester will help students master various aspects of visual storytelling: design, pacing, style, text/image balance. Students will prepare online presentations that examine the aspects of visual narrative of their choice.

 

VNG-5580-OL

Creative Script

Fall semester: 3 credits

Concept, character, structure and craft—the fundamentals of creative storytelling and the architecture of a well-defined outline—will be the focus of this course. Students will develop writing skills in the core components of storytelling through exercises, such as an active but flawed protagonist with a concrete goal, a story with a sound structure based on character story arc and a unique concept with a specific target audience. The similarities and differences between theater, film, television, comics and interactive media will be explored through readings and discussions. The end product will be a rough draft of a short script for a visual medium of each student’s choice.

 

VNG-5620-OL

Digital Short Story

Spring semester: 6 credits

Digital Short Story will combine the concepts covered in VNG-5540, Story Visualized, and VNG-5580, Creative Script, to produce original short stories in a digital, visual narrative format. This course will focus on taking an idea from its initial stage through proposal, story and character development, editing layout, design, color palette and typography to revision and finished narratives, culminat­ing in an exhibition of both the digital story and artwork. Geared toward digital publication and distribution, we will also explore production techniques, including the technical considerations necessary to generate both digital and print editions. Guest artists will represent the wide range of digital publishing, distribution and creative experiences available.

 

VNG-5650-OL / VNG-5655-OL

Lecture Series I and II

Fall and spring semesters: no credit

These guest lecture programs offer students the opportunity to hear from a wide variety of professional perspectives. Given by artists and authors from around the world, these presentations will address several aspects of storytelling.

 

 

 

Summer, Fall, Spring II

 

VNG-6120-A

Color, Process, Text and Image

Summer semester: 3 credits

The letters used to create the stories we write can be an important part of the visual experience. In this course, we will survey type design from different eras to gain an understanding of its historical, physical and formal considerations. Students will explore type design and letterform by creating type by hand using various techniques and technologies. How to bring the letters that tell a story to life and make a powerful impact on the message of the story itself will be emphasized. We’ll also take advantage of NYC and harness the typographic inspiration of this incredible city. Creativity, experimentation and messy hands are all encouraged, as students are guided by demonstrations, critiques and guest lecturers.

 

VNG-6150-A

Redefining the Spine

Summer semester: 3 credits

Traditional printmaking and mainstream publishing defined printed matter for decades. But in the past 15 years, advancements in technology, mobile devices, and interactive and web media have virtually reformatted and reinvigorated the industry and created new delivery systems, marketplaces and audiences along the way. The standard classification of the “book” has become an inspiring challenge in its redefinition. This seminar will take a look at the past, present and future of the bound and digital book through a series of collaborative workshops given by guest instructors and working professionals.

 

VNG-6210-A

Visual Writing

Summer semester: 3 credits

This course will explore an alternative understanding of narrative. We will experi­ment with different forms of nontraditional storytelling—including diagrams, maps and charts, as well as illustration and photography. Through a series of exercises, students will gain an understanding of the ways in which these visual forms both structure and expand the limits of what can be told. Throughout, we will approach “the visual” and “the narrative” not as separate modes of work, but as deeply integrated processes of thought. By the end of the course, students will have produced a small book that tells a single story from a variety of angles.

 

VNG-6240-A

Form, Empathy and Character Play

Summer semester: 3 credits

Sometimes the only way to find one’s “voice” as a storyteller is to get into char­acter. This course aims to enhance the skills needed to successfully develop a character, by designing, constructing and animating that character and then bringing it to life in believable and interesting ways. Using role-playing techniques and exercises in improv, students will explore various contexts for their own character creations. Guest lectures will complement studio work.

 

VNG-6320-OL

Identity in a Digital World

Fall semester: no credit

The concepts and practices related to web publishing, marketing, the mobile mind­set, data analysis, print publishing and digital storefronts will be addressed in this course. Strategies to create an online identity will also be discussed in order to get students thinking about who they are as storytellers and how they want to present themselves. In addition to online presentations, the instructors are available for consultation.

 

VNG-6330-OL

Selling Your Story

Spring semester: no credit

Using the power of marketing as a creative resource to tell a story is the focus of this course. We will examine the best ways to market content to diverse audi­ences through a variety of media, including online, mobile devices and digital publishing. The course will provide a path to identifying markets specific to each student’s thesis. In addition to online presentations, the instructors are available for consultation.

 

VNG-6520-OL / VNG-6525-OL

Thesis Studio I and II

Fall and spring semesters: 6 credits per semester

The direction and visual medium for the thesis project is open to the students’ interpretation, and must demonstrate their strength and vision as storytellers and visual narrative artists. Equal emphasis will be given to the verbal and visual direction of each thesis. Students will maintain a written journal documenting the progression of their narrative thesis from inception to completion, including detailed accounts of their scheduled advisor discourses and critiques. An interac­tive, digital version of each thesis is required. Additionally, thesis work will be augmented with “toolbox” sessions that will explore advanced technique, related analysis and professional practice. One-on-one and online group discussions and lectures by guest artists and authors will be scheduled. The thesis project will culminate in a group exhibition at the end of the third summer session.

 

VNG-6540-OL / VNG-6545-OL

Thesis and Mentor Review I and II

Fall and spring semesters: no credit

To support thesis development, students will work with a mentor of their choos­ing during the fall and spring semesters. In addition, individual meetings with the department chair will be held weekly, throughout both semesters, for review of thesis projects and the mentorship process.

 

 

Summer III

 

VNG-6820-A

Connecting Story to Audience

Summer semester: 3 credits

In this course, students will examine the social and cultural impact of narrative content in a connected world, and the relevance of the “artist as author” in an ever-changing marketplace. Mobile devices and interactive technology will be studied through readings and discussions. By the end of the course, students will have a solid understanding of where the craft and marketing of visual narrative is headed.

 

VNG-6850-A

Guest Critic and Editing Seminar

Summer semester: 3 credits

Through lectures and studio visits with guest art directors, editors, critics and curators, this seminar is designed to offer each student a deeper understanding and insight into how narrative art is viewed, edited, chosen and critiqued in the industry. Portfolio reviews from noted professionals is included.

 

VNG-6870-A

Professional Practice

Summer semester: no credit

It is increasingly necessary for artists to have a strong professional outlook and understanding of the laws and core business practices central to independent art practice. Through a series of instructional seminars, we will focus on four main goals: an understanding of the publishing, gallery, and narrative art marketplace; how to review, prepare and pitch a cohesive body of work; the development and application of the student’s brand and identity tools as both an artist and author for communicating, showcasing and promoting that work; the legal limitations and responsibilities of self-authorship, intellectual property, copyright and art law.

 

VNG-6900-A

Thesis Production

Summer semester: 6 credits

As storytellers, we create original works of art and literature for the public to consume, for history to judge and for critics to validate. As creators of original content, what responsibilities, if any, do we have to our audience(s), and what expectations or gratifications do we require in return? In the grand scheme of things, are we contributing something of worth and note? Is there even a need to do so, outside of personal expression or artistic commentary? Part philosophy seminar and part thesis studio, this course aims to evaluate these issues in the creative process of storytelling through insightful review, discussion and criticism. Through work on projects that address different contemporary and historical views on narrative art and input from guest speakers with varying points of view, the students will begin to think about how these issues are addressed in their artistic work and thesis production.

 

First-Year Requirements

VNG-5040 Black, White and One Color (summer)

VNG-5080 Analog to Digital: Dynamic Transformations (summer)

VNG-5130 Narrative Writing (summer)

VNG-5170 History of Visual Storytelling (summer)

VNG-5540 Story Visualized (fall)

VNG-5580 Creative Script (fall)

VNG-5620 Digital Short Story (spring)

VNG-5650/5655 Lecture Series I and II (fall/spring)




Second-Year Requirements

VNG-6120 Color, Process, Text and Image (summer)

VNG-6150 Redefining the Spine (summer)

VNG-6210 Visual Writing (summer)

VNG-6240 Form, Empathy and Character Play (summer)

VNG-6320 Identity in a Digital World (fall)

VNG-6330 Selling Your Story (spring)

VNG-6520/6525 Thesis Studio I and II (fall/spring)

VNG-6540/6545 Thesis and Mentor Review I and II (fall/spring)

Third-Year Requirements

VNG-6820 Connecting Story to Audience (summer)

VNG-6850 Guest Critic and Editing Seminar (summer)

VNG-6870 Professional Practice (summer)

VNG-6900 Thesis Production (summer)

Blog Feed

School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587