Illustration | Minneapolis College of Art and Design


Explore the world of illustration at MCAD and learn how to communicate emotions and ideas as a creative visual. Careers in this field can range from illustrating for entertainment and educational purposes to teaching and being a fine artist.

Student works at a table on colorful drawings in colored pencil with two colored pencil sets on the table.

As an Illustration major, you will: 

  • Explore traditional and nontraditional forms of illustration
  • Learn to clearly communicate ideas and tell stories
  • Sharpen your technical and conceptual illustration skills

MCAD's Illustration graduates have gone on to create work for Target, Fantasy Flight Games, Scholastic, Adidas, Animal Adventure, and more.

Get a feel for the program:


What types of projects would I be working on?

Students will create projects based on real-world illustration assignments, exploring both narrative and conceptual approaches to illustration along with specific formats such as zines and posters. Using techniques borrowed from professional illustrators, students will learn how to take their ideas from sketch to finish and collaborate with their classmates through peer critique. 

Will I be doing digital or traditional illustration?

The course features a mix of illustration methods, with digital instruction in Adobe Photoshop as well as techniques using traditional materials. While some assignments focus on specific tools, the course is designed to give each student space to develop their own unique approach to illustration.

Will I get to meet professional illustrators?

Yes. Along with field trips to museums and galleries, the course will include visiting artist talks from professional illustrators working in a variety of illustration contexts; from children's books and editorial to advertising and packaging design.

What types of jobs do illustrators get?

MCAD Illustration majors have gone on to careers as book illustrators, editorial magazine and newspaper illustrators, illustrators on a range of product packaging, surface designers, and more.

What other classes will I take in the program?

All students will take drawing and art history, in addition to their major studio class.

Student Work: 

Colorful poster depicting a large bird of prey in blue with its talons gripping a pink head. Abstract writing is at the top of the poster.

Colorful poster showing the bust of a figure wearing a large red hat with two pink hands in front. The poster reads at the top "Coming soon" and at the bottom "Project Lisa."

Illustration student work in shades of green and grey showing a grassy, hilly outdoor scene with two cartoon figures in the foreground. An alien in a small ship hides behind a bush.

Image in green, black, and cream showing three faces on the right with mouths open. Abstracted buildings are in the background and a slime is moving throughout the image. An abstract alien in the center seems to be producing the slime and cards in the foreground read "Green lives don't matter" and "go home."

Green, white, and cream poster showing a dog next to a bench on a nondescript path. Words at the top of the image read "They are all gone."


Poster in shades of blue with black drawings depicting Olympic athletes from the 2021 games.

Hand drawn image in colored pencil showing historical buildings with green parrots flying in different directions in front. A figure is seen on the lower right and they seem as if they are falling backward into the scene.

Illustration student work depicting a figure that resembles Peter Pan, carrying a large bag over one shoulder. Inside the bag is a beach scene. Outside the bag and behind the figure is a night scene.

Illustration student work printed in green and black on cream paper. Image is of an alien sitting on a rough surface looking out over clouds.

A close up of a green alien holding the earth in its hands and looking concerned. Alien figure is on a black background.