From Bleached Bones

John Lee's Illustration Blog
Posts tagged mca
Anonymous asked:
Hi! I see that you are a professor at MCA? I've been accepted into their Illustration program this fall. They've given me a generous scholarship and seem to be very interested in me. But I've looked online at the reviews and they just have me scared. What was your experience like teaching there? Do you personally think it's a good place to study? I've been accepted to SVA's illustration program as well. I would value your input on which school I should consider attending! Thanks much!

Hello!

This might have been better suited as an e-mail, but I’ll answer it here. If you have further questions, please email me at john (at) johnleedraws.com.

I no longer teach at MCA, as I am about to pursue my Masters at, er, SVA. I actually received a very similar question earlier, which you can check out here. I’ll try and be as unbiased as possible; that means the good, the bad, the ugly

A BFA is a very risky proposition for the money invested; you have to understand that going in. If you are OK with the risks (and depending on your background, the risks might be greater or less than others) then that’s how I would determine on where to go for undergrad. It becomes a value judgement on what you’re getting for your buck, I suppose. 

SVA is, without a doubt, the superior school in terms of resources available to the individual student. It’s perennially regarded as one of the top art schools in the country, certainly for illustration.  But is it the best value, especially if you have a hefty scholarship to MCA? I’m not so sure. 

MCA is a much smaller school, and in a lot of ways is primarily aimed at the Mid-South. Just pulling numbers off the site; while the current student body comes from 25 states and 5 foreign countries, 60% come from the Mid-South. So if you grew up in the South, and it’d be easier for you to stay around here, that’s definitely a plus. 

The reviews that you’ve read (from where?) are probably old and don’t reflect the entire situation from the past 3 years. The Illustration program, when I was teaching and when I left, was in the process of rebuilding. In 2012, there was a lot of shuffling around, and some tough decisions made in the wake of a hard financial shakeup. I would like to stress that this is not unique to MCA.

When a school has to dramatically restructure, I’m afraid one of the hardest hit areas is usually the academic quality, and those repercussions affect students the most. The other instructors and I tried to offset that as much as possible when I was teaching (to varying degrees of success on my part.) 

Here’s the good news: recently, MCA read the writing on the wall, and decided to give a huge amount of institutional support towards illustration (and comics!) specifically. Once regarded as a red-headed step-child to drawing and painting, it’s now the largest department on campus, occupies a prominent amount of the school, and is headed by a new professor, Michele Noiset. Michele is absolutely awesome in all regards, and I couldn’t be happier that she took the reins. 

Whatever the illustration department was, it is now better and getting better ever day. I’m hesitant to make any predictions, but I’d say that in a few years, if given the chance, it will be comparable to other regional schools in the area like KCAI and VCU. 

It is, however, very small. You can’t go into it thinking that, say, Sam Weber and Yuko Shimizu are going to teach you how to paint and ink. But, you should go into art school (wherever you end up) willing to work hard regardless of who’s instructing you. 

One last note: if you’re being heavily recruited by MCA, that means that they really want you. And because the school is so small that doesn’t stop once you get to campus. We teachers talk about y’all all the time and if you’re superlative, then everyone definitely takes notice. 

So take all this for what it’s worth (a blog post on tumblr). Again, feel free to e-mail me if you have any additional questions. 

Anonymous asked:
Hello! I'm going to be an illustration major at MCA. Can I be a game designer as well? What classes should I take to prepare myself?

Sure. You can also be a cave man, if you’d like. 

MCA doesn’t have a specific game design track, although the illustration department has produced alumni who have went on to work in the games industry.  

Note: I am currently no longer teaching at MCA, and the illustration department will go through a lot of (very good) changes in the Fall 13 semester. I would direct all questions regarding curriculum to staff through the MCA website.

My personal advice: draw as much as possible and take as many courses as you can where you are drawing a lot. 

Today was my last day teaching at MCA. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all the faculty, staff, and most importantly, wonderful students who put up with my first foray into teaching. 
I learned so much about art and illustration while on the other side of the classroom. And I learned a ton, experientially, about teaching others and the nature of academia in general.
I might return back to teaching in the future, but for now I’m looking forward to just being a student and a regular ole illustrator again.
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Today was my last day teaching at MCA. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all the faculty, staff, and most importantly, wonderful students who put up with my first foray into teaching. 

I learned so much about art and illustration while on the other side of the classroom. And I learned a ton, experientially, about teaching others and the nature of academia in general.

I might return back to teaching in the future, but for now I’m looking forward to just being a student and a regular ole illustrator again.

Pulpatoon: On Leaving MCA

pulpatoon:

Ten years ago, I took a job at Memphis College of Art because it was an opportunity to build my own program, and because the administration didn’t blink when I started talking about comics in my interview.

MCA had never had a full-time Illustration professor and did not have enough…

Joel Priddy offered for me to teach illustration at MCA almost a year ago and man, am I glad that I picked up the phone when he did. Teaching, especially teaching illustration, has been some of the most rewarding work that I’ve ever done.

When I hear a student talk excitedly about art, eagerly attack a project, or geek out over a new artist, I feel positively radiant inside. I may grin stupidly. There might be clicking of heels and wild hand gestures involved. I sleep better at night because I know at the very least a student has learned that it is absolutely, unequivocally OKAY to just fucking LOVE something so much that they can’t wait to dive right in, head over heels. Imparting that passion is worth any amount of financial fandangling and bureaucratic gymnastics.

Joel downplays the fact that he built the program up, but I cannot stress enough how impressed I am at how he single-handedly wrought these programs and curriculum. That fact alone is admirable, but his real legacy is all the students that he’s inspired with his knowledge, hard work, and good humor. He leaves huge (cordovan wingtip) shoes to fill, and for our part as adjuncts, we’ll do our absolute best to continue his work before the next hand gets ahold of the tiller.