Story: Visualized

  • » Offers a distinctive and evolutionary approach to storytelling on a graduate level
  • » Focuses on the growing need for original content creators in advertising, video games, picture books, graphic novels, film, illustration and animation
  • » Prepares artists and authors to become innovators in the ever-evolving art of visual storytelling

Chair Statement

Great visual storytellers come from all walks of life, professions and art forms. They are the unique few who function as both author and artist—entertaining and influencing our imaginations through creations of art and literature. Their films can direct and redefine history or tell of our future, their books can set our imagination to flight in the palm of our hands, and their words can ignite our emotions and empower an audience to action. Great visual storytellers challenge our notions of self and truth, engaging an audience to its core. That level of visual narrative becomes an experience, a moment not soon forgotten, a memory forever cherished. These works have withstood the test of time, becoming part of our history and cultural identities.

This groundbreaking low-residency program is an innovative approach to visual narrative. Equal emphasis is paid to the art of creative writing and the craft of visual arts, fostering a truly revolutionary methodology of storytelling through the education of the “Artist as Author.”

During three summer residencies in New York City, participants will undertake an intensive exploration of the visual and structural components of story, integrating the dual roles of writer and visual communicator. Through workshops, guest lectures and studies in professional practice, we will explore and challenge the notions of design, storytelling and authorship. Participants maintain their professional and individual lifestyles as they work online with faculty, along with mentors who join during the second fall and spring semesters. This period is devoted to synthesizing the skills and crafts presented in the summer on-site intensives.

Through critical study, lectures and tutorials in the summer workshops, the MFA in Visual Narrative examines contemporary delivery systems of narrative art. As visual communication technologies advance in such areas as eBooks, interactive websites, podcasts, social media outlets and mobile devices, the program responds by preparing students for the challenges and opportunities in the digital marketplace. The faculty—chosen for its diversity of storytelling genres—includes animators, designers, illustrators, art historians, painters, printmakers, writers and graphic novelists.

In all forms of advertising, fine arts, game design, picture books, graphic novels, film, illustration and animation, there is a growing demand for talented and original content creators. The MFA Visual Narrative program fills that need—regardless of medium or style—enabling students to become creative, responsible arbiters of visual storytelling, able to shape their own identities, artistic voices and narrative art.

Nathan Fox, Chair

About the Program

MFA Visual Narrative is a flexible, low-residency program designed for working professionals and students of visual storytelling alike. Three onsite summer sessions are connected by two years of online study during the fall and spring semesters. After each summer session and academic year, students must receive an acceptable review from a faculty panel in order to continue in the program. Degree candidates must successfully complete 60 credits, including all required courses.

During the eight-week summer sessions, students attend classes and seminars, and work in the studios for 8 to 10 hours per day, six days a week. Several evenings are devoted to digital/interactive tutorials, critiques and lectures. Capitalizing on New York City’s rich culture, research trips including contemporary artists events, studio visits and other activities will take place during workshops and on weekends.

The summer sessions concentrate on advanced writing, digital media and technique-based workshops. Working in tandem, the creative writing and visual studio workshops as well as analog and digital media studios create a unique and intensive environment— allowing the “Artist as Author” to thrive.

Throughout the fall and spring semesters, students fulfill the studio components of the online program, with supervision from their course instructor and support from their chosen mentor starting with the Fall II semester. Creative writing is assigned in coordination with the online studio story course. This important component includes online submission [posting] of written and visual materials. In the third summer session, each student is responsible for producing, curating and/or publishing a unique narrative thesis, which will be exhibited in a group show in one of the SVA galleries. Both analog and digital versions of each thesis project must be approved by the Thesis Committee, the student’s mentor and the department chair in order to be eligible for degree conferral.

Who Should Apply

This program is designed for professionals and students from all creative disciplines who are interested in implementing visual storytelling into their art practice. We welcome applicants with a figurative art background in such areas as animation, graphic design, illustration, digital art, fine art and film. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Applicants should be able to demonstrate technical proficiency in both creative writing and narrative art forms. Because of the nature of a low-residency program, successful students will be self-reliant and able to demonstrate a high level of professional discipline and practice.

To download a copy of the application, please go to the Resources page.