15 Years of Impact: ArtCenter Illustration Dept.

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Ann Field May 3, 2016

“Illustration is a different voice and I believe Designmatters gives our students the opportunity to create some of their most impactful work.”
– Ann Field

The Illustration Department has an amazingly successful track record with Designmatters. Yes, proof as I see it, that Illustration is a communication tool, and it can make the world a better place, not just a prettier one.

Our experience with illustration is ingrained from childhood, through the visual storytelling of children’s books. Illustration teaches socialization and understanding, it is immediate and it is emotive. It teaches, it explains and it heals.

From this early foundation, illustrators have an inbuilt empathy toward their fellow man, which enables them to observe a problem from another point of view, to observe without words or judgment, and create imaginative images that communicate, often in surprising and unexpected ways.

Illustration can tell a story, it can communicate the ‘how’ of something more complicated, like statistics, and it can cross language barriers because an image has the power to connect people to each other in both good and in bad times.


ArtCenter’s Illustration department led a transdisciplinary studio in Summer 2008 that aimed to create a visual communication campaign on human rights in commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th anniversary.

Already, ArtCenter Illustration students have brought new understanding to a worldwide audience in their visualization of the tenets of the International Declaration of Human Rights, to bringing home the message of statistics in an immediate, original and engaging way and interpreting important safety information that has a very human message in the LA Earthquake project. Sometimes, Designmatters Illustration projects have been recognized and awarded, as in the case of Uncool: The Anti-Gun Violence Project, a tremendously difficult challenge, which opened up the difficulty of how to communicate this vital message to young children.

All this comes naturally to the best Illustrators. Designmatters gives them the opportunity to cross over and become visual journalists, explainers of data, and communicators of an idea through real world projects and situations. Illustrators always bring their heart and their humanity with them. Looking to the future, illustrators need to engage and own their ideas, to work in a team with others and be able to talk about why their work is a vital communication tool in the 21st century, where so much healing and understanding needs to happen on the human level, and to use their work in ways that reach those who need to hear the message most.



Ann Field, Chair of Illustration at Art Center was educated in England and began her career in journalism. Her Illustration clients include Nike and Christian Dior. She is the recipient of the Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, New York and a former President of ICON the international Illustration conference.

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