juliaemiliani asked: Hi, I'm a great fan of your work! I noticed that you're a recent RISD grad, (congrats!) and I was wondering how you liked RISD? What did you like best and least about the school/education, were you satisfied with your experience in the Illustration dept., were you able to explore different art forms besides illustration, were you able to fit in other liberal arts or business courses, what was social life like for you, has being a RISD grad helped career-wise, and would you go back? Thanks! :)
Hi Julia, thanks so much! I had had my heart set on RISD since my junior year of high school, and couldn’t be happier with my decision to go. My favorite part about RISD is its expectations – the curriculum is very demanding, having 7.5 hours of studio 3 times a week as a freshman, and at least 5 hours of studio 3 or 4 times a week sophomore through junior year (depending on your major). The intensity of RISD’s class time and workloads pushes students to bring their best foot forwards, and to constantly be surrounded by hard-working and dedicated classmates is just as important and inspiring as encouraging and informative professors.
My least favorite part about RISD was the frustration in registering for classes – with a growing number of students every year, course availability is somewhat limited. For the most part, however, I was able to enroll in all of the courses I wanted to take (Illustration majors rely heavily on electives during their junior and senior year). Robert Brinkerhoff, the current Illustration department head, has been very helpful with issues like these and I am sure he is continuing to address this problem. Despite some registration complications, the Illustration department is incredibly flexible in terms of experimentation and exploration. Within the Illustration department, for example, some people have focused on photography, sculpture, printmaking, painting, and even film – the possibilities are endless. We’re required and encouraged to take studio courses in other majors. I took a few classes in Graphic Design and Textiles, and it was wonderful. Overall, I am very happy with my experience in the Illustration department at RISD.
Liberal arts are required for all majors, so there’s plenty of room for them. I was a concentrator in English, which means that I dedicated most of my liberal arts credits to English courses. Students are allowed to take classes at Brown University as well, if you can manage to work it out with your schedule. I didn’t take any business-specific courses while at RISD, though many times during studio classes, professional topics were acknowledged and discussed. During my last semester I took “Professional Practice” with Fred Lynch, and during the course we covered an incredible number of business topics regarding illustration and design careers: promotional materials, websites, freelance guidelines, taxes, and more.
RISD has a strong community. There are always social events going on around campus: ice skating, dance parties, Artist Ball, Z-day, concerts, gallery exhibitions, basketball and hockey games… Freshman year, of course, is an especially social year as you’re getting to know other students and faculty. My first year at RISD was tough work-wise, but it seemed to be equally balanced in the amount of time that I spent with friends. As the years passed, however, I spent an increasingly larger amount of time focusing on classes, homework, and internships – which made it difficult to put aside time for out-of-class socializing. I’m somewhat of an introvert anyway, so I was happy to interact with friends during class and occasionally hang out and grab dinner during our “free time”.
I was very lucky to get a full-time job offer a few months before I graduated – I really do believe that my work at RISD in pairing with my internship experiences aided in that.
I would definitely go back if I could! I’m not-so-secretly jealous of all the students who will be shipping back to RISD in September. At this point I don’t plan on going to grad school, but who knows what will happen between then and now :)