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There is a common misconception often applied to Illustration, particularly in this day and age: it is referred to as “commercial” art. All you really need to do is go to any major art fair, anywhere on the planet, at any time of the year, and you will be confronted with the most “blinged-out” “tarted-up” “commercial” art that masquerades something “fine”.

When I started creating illustrations for magazines and book in the eighties, the experience was quite pure. A picture would be requested (by an intelligent graphic designer/art director) to accompany an interesting piece of writing. The text usually was something that I could relate to, and so there was an unstated request to create a “personal” image to give the page an intimate power, keeping it radically different and “editorial” in feeling juxtaposed with the advertising pages nearby. For providing my picture, a modest monetary sum would be paid.

It was nice and clean…not begging for patronage, competitive posturing, or art world politics. The stakes were low, so I could dwell in a world of ideas. 

The venues for placing pictures in the world has changed since then, but the artistic impulses of illustrators and figurative painters has remained pretty much the same: to remain pure to describe the world as we see it, and not break our noses running into giant stainless steel balloon animals in the corporate lobby!

In this volume, you will see an impressive collection of young artists who are very serious about picture-making. They have heightened their technical and conceptual skills with the help of the large and amazing faculty in the BFA Illustration and BFA Cartooning Departments over the last four years. You will be able to see what they think of the world they are living in, each in their own highly personal way. Hopefully, all will be able to navigate, keeping their art true to themselves, and raising the level of our visual culture in the future. There is such deep talent here, and speaking on behalf of my colleagues, we all feel so honored to have helped these young artists on their exciting creative journeys!

I would like to thank the Senior Portfolio BFA Illustration and BFA Cartooning faculty who helped in the selection process; Steve Brodner, Chris Buzzelli, Joey Cavalieri, Marcos Chin, Kali Ciesemier , T.M. Davy, Frances Jetter, Marvin Mattelson, Keith Mayerson, David Mazzuchelli, Gary Panter, and Carl Potts.

We also thank President David Rhodes for his vision and support of this ongoing document.


Thomas Woodruff


BFA Cartooning

BFA Illustration

School of Visual Arts

June 2016

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