California State University, Fullerton

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Mission & Goals

The mission of the CSU-Fullerton Illustration concentration is to provide students with conceptual understanding, technical skills, practical experience and opportunities to explore the art of illustration in order to become effective and creative communicators and visual storytellers.

The goals of the concentration are:

Provide students with the technical know-how required for their craft and expose them to traditional and digital media and applications.

Provide a broad understanding of visual language as it applies to the art of illustration.

Encourage conceptual and visual problem solving.

Encourage creativity, innovation, and experimentation.

Explore historical and contemporary trends in illustration.

Inform students on professional business practices and ethical standards.

Fuel passion for the picture-making process.


Not every artist can produce an image worth a 1,000 words.

In the information age, global media will need picture-makers and visual storytellers to communicate with clarity, efficiency, and flair. At Cal State Fullerton, we know that tomorrow’s skilled illustrators will craft the next generation of images that will touch people’s minds and hearts. Our professors, who manage successful artistic careers alongside their teaching, provide a challenging, yet nurturing environment to bring out the best in our Illustration students. These aspiring artists, in the camaraderie of their peers, learn the fine craft of creating pictures to inform, educate, and entertain, to excite and inflame passions, to arouse curiosity, to amuse, to recreate the past and contemplate the future.

BFA Curriculum

As a freshman and sophomore, you hone on the foundations: color, composition, rendering, figure anatomy, perspective, design and typography. Meanwhile, two courses in art history (from prehistoric to modern art) expand your visual knowledge. As you draw and paint, you progress from traditional to digital media. Once a junior, your required courses in traditional and digital illustration as well as in figure drawing and painting start you off in visual storytelling, help you perfect your technique, and fine-tune your advanced picture problem-solving skills. A variety of elective courses cater to personal interests and career goals: digital painting, cartooning and caricature, sequential art, animation backgrounds, landscape painting, and more. A recommended History of American Illustration rounds out your knowledge of this profession. You then focus on portfolio-building and networking. As a senior in taking two Special Studies in Illustration courses, you create portfolio pieces, beginning the first semester with imagery illustrating a common literary source (a novel, tales, myths, etc.), before tailoring a set of artworks demonstrating your unique talents, style, and vision. Finally, to jump-start seniors’ careers, an internship in a real world business prepares you for job hunting and industry practices.

Student and Alumni Achievements

Since 2000, our students and alumni have received more than one hundred awards and distinctions for the outstanding quality of their art. From the New York Society of Illustrators to the Society of Illustrators-Los Angeles, from the Hollywood Reporter Key Art to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Cal State Fullerton Illustrators compete successfully against the very best students from art schools from across the nation and around the world. Employers of our graduates include most of the U.S.A.’s top entertainment and publishing companies, such as the Walt Disney Company, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Lucas Films Ltd., Cartoon Network, and many more. Illustration Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts graduates are among faculty in university art programs in North and South America.


Grace Alba
Gabriel Carranza
Daniel Cheng
Matt Frantz
Andrew Haring
Heisuke Kitazawa
Camille Kuo
Jen Long
Ron Mazellan
Cara Nilsen
Mikela Prevost-Smith
Joshua Pruett
John Puchalski
Eric Reimer
Israel Sanchez
Cheryl Savala
Eduardo Villacis
Karen Wheeler
Jennifer Wood
Joo Kim
Jeni Yang
Caroline Zimmerman


In addition to teaching, our professors maintain their professional practice in the fields of children’s book and editorial illustration, animation, graphic novel and comics, advertising, and game art. Their art has appeared in top venues, such as the Society of Illustrators in New York and Los Angeles, the American and National Watercolor Societies, American Artist magazine, Ballistic Publications, Corel Painter’s online gallery, in fine art galleries and museum exhibitions throughout the nation. Our faculty also shares and teaches its expertise at presentations and workshops nationwide such as the College Art Association annual conference and the San Diego Comic-Con.

George James, Emeritus Professor
Dorte Christjansen, Emeritus Professor
Larry Johnson, Emeritus Professor
Cliff Cramp, Professor and Program Coordinator
Christian Hill, Assistant Professor
Chris Nielsen, Lecturer
Tina Schmidt, Lecturer
Hala Swearingen, Assistant Professor


We encourage you to visit The University Academic Catalog to become more familiar with the Art Education curriculum as well as the News section for art department news. Also, please visit to become more familiar with current events, activities and websites of students, faculty and alumni.