Monday, August 25, 2014


Room 332, Shaffer Art building
Thursdays 2:00-5pm – 3 CREDITS

Danny Schwartz

"Illustration is the blue collar worker of the art world. It lives amongst us. Due to the constraints of time and space that illustration is limited to, it must be able to communicate to the viewer in an instant. Immeasurable time and energy are put into the creation of an image that is often considered for little more than the turn of a page. Illustration must shout, not whisper. It must make a statement. In essence, it answers a question."
-Sterling Hundley
The focus of this class is contemporary editorial illustration. Our general structure is simple – we’re going to be doing real editorial assignments on a tight deadline. Detailed, tight sketches will be submitted for approval for each assignment. We’ll also cover basic professional practices, like invoicing and billing. As you all should know by now, freelance editorial illustration is a difficult field to break into, but with enough perseverance, you can make it happen. You are all upperclassmen at this point, and pushing your boundaries should be second nature. Seniors, your goal this year should be establishing a professional, polished portfolio for your launch into professional life in the spring, and this class will hopefully be a big part of that. Juniors should have that same goal in mind, even though there’s a slightly more comfortable distance between now and graduation. You never know what might come out of these assignments.

That said, this class is also going to try and focus beyond portfolio building. For many of our class sessions, we’re going to be drawing from a model or models in addition to our regular critiques and assignments. I’d like to steer away from regular figure drawing here, however – the model sessions are to be more like a playground for experimenting with new media, developing your styles, and generally just fooling around. Editorial work, with only a few exceptions, is a far cry from traditional drawing and painting these days, and the work done in this class should reflect that. Distort, play with colors, play with line, have fun – don’t play it safe, don’t be boring. Boring doesn’t sell. I would like to see a distinct evolution over the course of this class in terms of the choices you make when composing, drawing, and designing your images. Editorial is such an exciting arena, and the prospect of developing your own unique way to shine is both intimidating and thrilling. Hopefully, this class will push you in that direction.

Survey is functionally the last time I will meet with you, and is mandatory for all illustration majors.

  • To become familiar with the basic process that a professional editorial illustrator routinely goes through for each assignment. This includes professional sketches and email etiquette, timeliness in the face of tight deadlines and/or interfering life events, and basic invoicing and related paperwork.
  • To continue to develop a professional aesthetic that will sell well in today’s competitive market through experimentation with media and style.
  • To continue to establish a habit of pushing artistic boundaries and stylistic evolution.
The Syracuse University Academic Integrity Policy holds students accountable for the integrity of the work they submit. Students should be familiar with the Policy and know that it is their responsibility to learn about instructor and general academic expectations with regard to proper citation of sources in written work. The policy also governs the integrity of the work submitted in exams and assignments as well as the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verifications of participation in class activities. Serious sanctions can result from academic dishonesty of any sort. For more information and the complete policy, see

Students who are in need of disability-related academic accommodations must register with the Office of Disabilities Services (ODS), 804 University Avenue, Room 309, 315-443-4498. Students with authorized disability-related accommodations should provide a current Accommodation Authorization Letter from ODS to the instructor and review those accommodations with the instructor. Accommodations, such as exam administration, are not provided retroactively; therefore, planning for accommodations as early as possible is necessary. For further information, see the ODS website, Office of Disability Services

Life as an illustrator is about juggling numerous assignments and having excellent time management. Assignments will generally be due every two weeks or so. If we don’t meet as a class and something is due (This year, October 16 and November 14), work is to be submitted electronically, just like it would in real life. Sketches are always due for critique the week after they are assigned – however, if you email me your sketches before then, I can give you approval earlier so you can grab more time for your final. Sketches, when submitted, should be coherent, neat, and professionally presented. I will not accept rough sketches – if I need to ask too many questions when they are presented to me, you may be asked to redo them. Professionally done sketches speak for themselves and should not require additional explanation. I want to be able to look at it and know what you’re thinking.

Obviously, the vast majority of the work on these assignments will be done outside of class.
As in the professional world, your choice of media and execution for each assignment will generally be your own, although if you must use traditional media like acrylic or oil paint, I’d like to see it applied in a nontraditional way. Otherwise, digitally, traditionally, with paint, ink, pastel, whatever – as long as each assignment complies with the basic parameter that all work is full color, I don’t care how you do it, so long as the end result is your best work. A few times, I might stretch our boundaries a bit and have the outside assignments reflect some of the experimentation in class, but this will be an organic process.

Because our assignments are professional simulation, you will receive each assignment the week it is assigned rather than in advance. It is imperative that you do not miss any deadlines. In this class, any assignment with a missed deadline will drop a letter grade. If sketches for an assignment are late, that assignment will drop a letter grade. In the real world, the consequences are far worse – you can torpedo your own career. Each assignment you receive is a chance to foster a good relationship with a client, and thus eat and keep a roof over your head.

A     achievement is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements
B     achievement is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements
C     achievement meets the course requirements in every respect
D     achievement is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet the course requirements
F     achievement is not worthy of credit or was not completed / represents failure

Seven Editorial Assignments: 70%
Figure work in class: 20%
Survey: 10%

I will repeat here that: in this class, any assignment with a missed deadline will drop a letter grade. Do not hand in anything late.

We’re only meeting in person 13 times, so a missed class hurts. You get one excused absence. A second one will result in the loss of a letter grade. A third may result in a failing grade. If something comes up and you DO have to miss a class, please try and let me know ahead of time so I can get you caught up to speed. A missed class is never, under any circumstance, an excuse for a missed assignment. If you are not in class on the day an assignment or sketches are due, it is your responsibility to get it to me via email on that same day.

You can reach me at any time via cell or email. Texting me if you really need me works probably better than anything for a rapid response, but I’m pretty good about responding to emails quickly as well. If you do feel as if you need to text me, please introduce yourself first so that I know who you are.