A new minor in illustration promises to provide SUNY Oswego art majors and students across disciplines with a strong foundation in a skillset that art department chair Cynthia Clabough says is enjoying resurgence in demand.

“Illustration is re-emerging as a contemporary communication form,” she said. “It is a bridge between the fine arts and the applied arts.”

Clabough said that making art illustration a minor—the required courses already are offered—adds weight and legitimacy to the experience and qualifications of graphic design and studio art students as well as majors in disciplines that offer illustration-rich careers, such as the sciences, creative writing, and cinema and screen studies, among others.

As a case in point, John MacDonald, chair of accounting, finance and law in the School of Business, was looking for a way to interest college-bound high school students in insurance, particularly in Oswego’s risk management and insurance program.

“It hit me that a graphic novel might pique their interest,” MacDonald said. He approached Clabough with the idea.

Senior graphic design major Connor DeHaahn and recent risk management and insurance graduate Walter Wilmshurst answered the call, working on the illustrations and the text, respectively, for the book.

“Combining illustration with graphic design is almost fundamental,” said DeHaahn, who plans to move west after graduation and start out designing such products as brochures and shirts for a ski resort. “As a graphic designer, you can be good on the computer and work with typography, but it’s always valuable to do things by hand.”

Students have been asking for the illustration minor for some time, Clabough said. “It lets a commercial artist and a graphic designer do what probably got them started in art in the first place—to have that freedom of visual expression,” she said.

In support of the minor, the art department offers introductory and advanced illustration, digital illustration, drawing and figure drawing, painting, watercolor painting, survey courses in Western art and a graphic novel course, among others. The art department continues to offer illustration as a concentration for majors earning their bachelor of fine arts and bachelor of arts degrees.

The art department also offers minors in art, art history, art management, expressive arts therapy, museum studies and photography. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits the department.