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University of Colorado Denver

College of Arts & Media

Illustration Emphasis

Visual Arts Department

​​Illustrators tell stories, express ideas and communicate through visual art. The profession spans a wide range of applications, encompassing graphic novels, scientific illustration, visual development for animation and games, children’s books, interactive illustration and anything an illustrator can bring to life. The field includes editorial, advertising, and product illustr​ation. Given the vast array of opportunities, today’s illustrators must understand how to communicate effectively with a chosen medium and situate their work professionally within a particular market. Students in the illustration emphasis receive instruction in conceptual illustration, digital illustration, rendering, perspective, painting, exhibition preparation, professional practices and the use of various artistic and illustration techniques. Students must master a multitude of digital and traditional tools in preparation for a professional illustration career. ​​

For more information and program details, please see our program brochure​ and the Illustration Curriculum and Advising Form​.

Feel free to contact the faculty directly with any questions or to schedule a visit:

Admissions and Portfolio Requirements...

The BFA Illustration Emphasis is a fall entry program and only accepts applications once a year. For detailed information on portfolio and application materials, consult the following guidelines: Illustration Portfolio Guidelines

Applications must be uploaded to by November 1, 2015, 5:00 pm (Mountain Standard Time). Applications are only accepted on-line and must be formatted to the specifications listed on SlideRoom. There is a $30 fee to apply.

For step-by-step instructions for submitting a portfolio and application consult: Portfolio Submission Instructions for SlideRoom​​.​​​​

To be eligible to apply applicants must have cumulative fine arts/art history GPA of 2.75 and must have completed (or currently be enrolled in) the following courses: FINE 1100 Drawing I, 1400 2D Design, 1500 3D Design, 2155 Introduction to Digital Photography, 2030 Life Drawing, 2600 Art History Survey I, 2610 Art History Survey II (transfer students not yet enrolled at CU Denver do not need to have 2155 and 2610).

​ The Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree...

The BFA in Fine Arts is the professional degree in art. With a BFA, students can choose to further their education by earning the terminal degree in the fine arts, the master of fine arts degree, or MFA. In addition to the twelve required classes for a BFA in Fine Arts, illustration majors take a standard range of core academic and foundational art classes such as Drawing I, Two and Three-Dimensional Design, Introduction to Digital Photography, Art History Survey I and Survey II. Required Visual Arts courses include Contemporary Art History and Studio BFA Thesis. Additionally, Illustration students complete a total of 36 ​credits in the emphasis area.

​Educating and Encouraging...

The Visual Arts faculty is comprised of artists and historians who understand the importance of art applications both in and outside of the classroom. For this reason, your instructors strive to be the bridge between you and the professional world. The encouragement and efforts of faculty enable students to be involved with the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA Denver), Emmanuel Gallery and with various visiting artists and coordination of internships with local design firms.

The faculty’s active participation in their field ensures that students receive both a traditional and a cutting-edge education.​To learn more about the Illustration program faculty, please select their name and you will be directed to their personal web pages.

Mary K. Connelly​, L​an​ny DeVuono​​Melissa Furness​Vivian George​ , Travis Vermilye​, and Q​uin​tin Gonzalez​​.​

Going Places...

​Students will graduate with a strong portfolio of work that exhibits a distinct personal illustrative style, a clear understanding of the professional world of illustration and how to market their unique vision, and the ability to translate virtually any concept into a compelling image.

Here are just a few of the careers available to our program’s graduates.

  • Advertising and commercial illustration
  • Editorial illustration
  • Book jacket illustration
  • Children's book illustration
  • Concept art and character development
  • Manga and comics illustration
  • Storyboards and cinematic pre-production
  • Studio practice and exhibitions
  • Teaching and lecturing
  • Artistic direction

​ To Prospective Students (freshman and transfer):

Students who wish to transfer to the College of Arts & Media from another college or school at the University of Colorado Denver must formally apply to the College of Arts & Media. Students will be considered for admission on either their overall GPA in applicable coursework from CU and all previous institutions, or on their last 15 credit hours. Applicants with less than a 2.0 GPA in related courses (from CU or other institutions) and an overall CU GPA of less than 2.0 will be denied admission even though they may meet other requirements for consideration.

​Please contact a College of Arts & Media advisor for more information about the Illustration program and portfolio requirements and deadlines.