The placement of Emily Carr University’s Illustration program within the curriculum of Visual Art and Material Practice is a purposeful statement that illustration can challenge the conventions and ethics of mainstream visual culture as vigorously as any other contemporary art practice.

Our program celebrates core principles of illustration, such as its iterative and collaborative methodologies, and the balancing of technical virtuosity, versatility and contextual sensitivity.  In order to build a strong critical foundation, we prioritize experimentation and a robust investigation of social context.  Students of Illustration at Emily Carr travel freely across areas of contemporary art that have longstanding historical ties to illustration (such as drawing, printmaking, artist books, painting, and surface decoration), and engage in expansive strategies that have emerged more recently, such as its integration with installation art.

Situating illustration within contemporary art’s culture of inquiry may be unconventional, but in our evolving cultural landscape we believe it is a necessary orientation.  The position occupied and the methodologies employed by contemporary art culture are reflective of its avant-garde inheritance. Operating largely from the margins of popular culture and interrogating the products of mass media from without, contemporary art discourses are ideally suited to challenging established narratives and formulaic solutions.  Whichever creative industries our students aspire towards, their practice and their discourse will be firmly rooted in cultural inquiry, positioning them to be leaders in the evolving field of professional illustration.

An Overview of the Illustration Program at Emily Carr University:

Illustration Program Second Year Objectives:
After their initial year in Foundations studies, Illustration students
explore innovative pictorial tactics in the second year, through a vigorous iterative approach and a diversity of traditional media and digital tools. Emphasis is placed on explorations that resist formulaic solutions and contend with the subjectivities, nuances, and complexities of subject matter. By means of extensive production of sketches and hands-­on experimental processes, students are encouraged to seek innovative approaches that challenge expectations.

Illustration Program Third Year Objectives:
Emerging from second year with an expanded perception of illustrative practice and a growing range of technical abilities, students are prepared to delve deeper into exploring the potential of representational and narrative art. With rich thematic topics that look to particular genres or delivery systems, third year courses continue to emphasize innovative approaches.  Third year curriculum offers the space for students to identify cultural investigations of their own, through a synthesis of critical literature and practice, and provides opportunities to enrich the visual sophistication of their developing work.

Illustration Program Fourth Year Objectives:
In the program's Senior Studio classes, students can apply their cumulated skills to self-­directed projects that synthesize research and creative practice.  Upon graduation, students are equipped to position their evolving practice in relation to current discourses within contemporary art and design. Whether their focus is on mass media, exhibition practice or community engagement, students should emerge from the program empowered to initiate or compete for a range of professional opportunities.

Degree requirements for Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration:


Nick Conbere

Justin Novak

Daphne Plessner

See full list of Illustration faculty


Digital Resource Requirement 

Please review the Digital Resource Requirement. This requirement applies to all students in all programs.