Han Yuan Yu, MFA ’15 Exhibits!

Han Yuan Yu is an exhibiting artist in
One World, Different Strokes Illustration Group Exhibition, hosted by The Taipei Economic And Cultural Office In New York. The  show will be on from  May 16th to May 28th.

We are also especially happy to announce that Han Yuan Yu is our
2015 FIT Departmental Award Winner! Congratulations on all, Han Yuan!
What a way to finish your studies at FIT!



Written Thesis and Beyond: Scott Fowler, MFA’15 at SUNY Symposium

The written thesis is an important component of our curriculum and requirement for degree conferral. The topics have been broad and far reaching and so very interesting. While working on it, our students discover the inner writer, the academic, the researcher, and ultimately, become an authority on his/her chosen topic. And- the papers do not simply sit on the shelves. This month alone, three of our grads are lecturing on their topics, taking part in a panel discussion, in talks with a book publisher and exhibiting at a the SUNY Graduate Research Poster Symposium.

It was a proud day for FIT, and for me, as I saw Scott Fowler mount the incredible poster that he created, speaking to all the wonderful projects and opportunities that have followed his thesis defense last April, on Illustrating Black, the story of the African American Illustrator. One could say that I am a bit biased, but when you see a poster like this, can you blame me?


Guest Blog: Jennifer Merz, MFA’14 writes about SCBWI

From the time that we first met Jenn, her first love was for writing and illustrating children’s books. So who better to get a report about the SCBWI conference. Take a read below and to see more about Jenn, click here:

REPORT FROM THE TRENCHES: Seven Lessons from the 16th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference

By now, you know that I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and that this international, professional organization is key for any creative person in children’s books, whether newbie or pro, or in between.  This organization provides encouragement, support, and information on all aspects of the business.

So, you know that I was thrilled to attend this year’s SCBWI Winter Conference in New York: a three-day affair for over 1400 people held in the swanky halls and conference rooms of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in Grand Central Station. While I have attended several times in years’ past (different venues), I felt ready to plunge back in, to pick up where I left off before I took a 3-year hiatus to attend FIT for my MFA Degree.

While I didn’t attend Friday’s Intensives, I entered my portfolio in Friday’s Art Directors’ Review.  No prizes for me, but I did get the chance to see a plethora of portfolios on display.  Competition, Baby, competition! Many illustrators had already been published, and most portfolios were of very high quality.  Conference Lesson # 1:  Raise Your Game!

On Saturday, YA writer Anthony Horowitz kicked off events with a humorous, informative speech on how to grab young readers from first line to last.  He spoke of looking for “light bulb moments” to give your writing authority of tone and truthfulness of character.  Never write down for children, he advised.  Make the children rise up.  Lesson # 2: Kids are Smart.  Don’t Patronize Your Audience.

This was followed by an Editors’ Panel, a Report from the Front Lines, by four distinguished publishers.  My best take-aways were Laura Godwin’s remark that we are going into a Renaissance of the picture book, even though adult titles are currently flat; and Stephanie Owens Lurie’s advice for writers and illustrators to ‘look broader’ than just having the goal of publishing one story.  (She also said that kids prefer hardcopies over eBooks!)

My first break-out session was with Ben Rosenthal of Katherine Tegen Books on Creating Nonfiction.  His advice “not to overvalue information over narrative” gave me food for thought re: my picture book proposal on the Triangle Factory Fire.  I will need to take another look at that…  It was wonderful to hear that literary non-fiction is desirable now.  Lesson # 3: Narrative, Narrative, Narrative (even in nonfiction).

I also had a break-out session with agent Heather Alexander (Pippin Properties) onDeveloping Your Brand and Career Path.  This event was disappointing to me, however, perhaps because so much of the info was familiar to me from my FIT classes.  Heather also had tech problems, and that didn’t help, either.

Saturday ended with two dynamite presentations to the entire conference: Hervé Tullet of wide-spread picture-book fame declared his love for producing books that express ideas, those that might shock or provoke.  Like Eric Carle’s books-as-toys before him, Hervé aims for freedom from the expected, books that are engaging as toys. Lesson # 4: Take Risks!

Kami Garcia, author of teen novel Beautiful Creatures, concluded Sat. night’s events, speaking of her publishing experience.  She took many risks in creating her book since she was not writing to be published, but writing for the love of her teen readers’ group.  (Kami is a teacher.)  She advised: Who is reading your book? Who is your tribe?  Lesson # 5: Write for Your Audience, Not to ‘Get Published’.


As if Saturday’s events weren’t enough, I kid you not when I say that Sunday’s were evenBETTER.  Please keep reading!

Picture book writer/illustrator and Caldecott Honor winner Laura Vaccaro Seeger was first up on Sunday morning with a CAPTIVATING presentation. Her generous display included sketchbooks, journals, and lists, giving all of us a peek into her incredible process.  She showed us how she creates her deceptively simple concept books, reminiscent of the work of Lois Ehlert, and how all fits together like a Rubik’s cube.  She spoke of the power of certain words, and leaving something to the imagination.  I was mesmerized and told her so later on.  Lesson # 6:  Be True to Your Vision.

James Dashner of Maze Runner fame was up next, with a humorous speech on Writing Commercial Fiction, followed by an Agent Panel.

The last speaker of the day, however, was the one that truly brought down the house.  Newbery Winner Kwame Alexander was simply electric!! In an engaging presentation,Saying Yes to the Writerly Life, the talk centered on his own writing journey, and was peppered with his emotionally-charged poems (yes, there were tears flowing…), and was infused with his humor, his advice, his humility, his charisma.  Working the room like a powerful preacher, he asked the crowd, “How are you going to live this writerly life?” Answer: “Not just sitting in a room writing; it’s about getting out there and living,” he advised.   Woven into the info and narrative was the lesson to say yes to opportunities that come your way, and the mantra: “Do not let other peoples’ “NOs” define your Yes.”   That bears repeating:  Lesson # 7: Do Not Let Other Peoples’ “Nos” Define Your “Yes”!

Needless to say, I bought Kwame’s Newbery book, The Crossover, and had him sign it to me, too.  I told him how enthralled I was by his speech, and that I was moved to tears when he’d recited his poem on his daughter’s growing up, adding that my own daughter had just gotten married.  He replied, with an impish grin, “Then you know what that’s all about.”  Indeed, I do.  Thank you, Kwame.
Then we all went home, tired but inspired, and ready to take up the challenge of our work once again.
Until next time,
Creatively yours,


55th Long Island Artists ExhibitionJenn will be speaking about her own book,
and Visual Thesis Project, SEW STRONG, on Long Island.



Speaking Out of School

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 10.26.34 PMEven after earning an MA degree in Art History, and a successful Kickstarter campaign, first year student Robert Geronimo wanted more- and we are so glad he did! Now earning his MFA, Robert is busy in AND out of school He has been invited to speak on a panel at the Ceres Gallery in Chelsea alongside Elizabeth Nyamayaro, Director of UN Women and the head of the HeforShe campaign! He will discuss his work on Little Maia and Agent 87; both of which demonstrate gender equality. Call to reserve a seat! The talk is on March 11th. Congratulations, Robert!

New student Cristy Road is way busy beyond school!

Our new year is underway, and work begins again. For Cristy Road, first year MFA student, it seems as if she does not stop!

Check out what Cristy is doing beyond her new classes~

NOW* Y QUE? EXHIBITIONJune 13 – Sept. 8, 2014
@Mexic-Arte Museum, 419 Congress Ave, Austin, TX
The Young Latino Artists (YLA) exhibition has historically provided Latino artists under the age of thirty-five with professional-level museum experience and exposure. Curated by Más Rudas Chicana art collective based in San Antonio, Texas, Y, Qué? includes Latina artists cultivating an artistic vocabularies to understand the world around them. Their artistic languages at times converge and diverge, as they all work towards resolving conflicts that derive from questions related to race, class, cultural identity, gender, and sexuality. Selected artists include: Natalia Anciso, Daphne Arthur, Nani Chacon, Audrya Flores, Suzy Gonzalez, Alexis Herrera, Las Hermanas Iglesias, Annette Martinez, Senalka McDonald, Awilda Rodriguez Lora, Cristy C. Road, Linda Lucía Santana, and Fabiola Torralba. For More Info please Visit: http://mexic-artemuseum.org/exhibitions
September 7th, 2014
@Herbert Von King Park, Bedstuy, Brooklyn, NY

The Audre Lorde Project’s Safe OUTside the System’s (S.O.S) Collective will host the 4th Annual Bed-Stuy Pride to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, transgender and gender-non-conforming people of color living in the Bed-Stuy community. 

September 23rd, 2014 
@Auraria Campus, Denver, CO

Lecture and workshop. More details TBA! 

October 8th, 2014 
@University Of Illinois, More Details TBA

Reading from Spit and Passion, as well as performing a workshop on healing through Art. More details TBA!

You go, Cristy!!! We are looking forward to more details and more great news!


And More….

The payback from Chroma, our MFA in Illustration Visual Thesis Show, ’14.  just keeps
on growing…

Jennifer Merz was signed on for a multiple book contract by a literary agent who saw and loved Jenn’s Sew Strong book- the story of the Triangle Factory Fire. Thanks to Professor Carmile Zaino who introduced the two through her class. Congratulations, and good luck, Jenn!!!

Julie Muszynski has just joined the ranks of the adjunct faculty at Parsons School of Design. Julie~ Congratulations and good luck to you!

Chroma Makes More News!!!

Just on the heels of our great news from yesterday, comes another great MFA Illustration and Chroma story! Miki Golod work is on Words Without Borders website, where his autobiographical graphic novel is featured- AND- breaking news! Miki is going to be a speaker at the NY Comics Symposium. WOW! Come hear Miki on August 11. Their site will be updated with location shortly.

©Miki Golod

©Miki Golod

Chroma: MFA Visual Thesis Goes Abroad

Exhibit_CHROMA_2014If you have not yet seen Chroma, the MFA in Illustration Visual Thesis Show, run over to the Museum at FIT before July 5 for this feast for the eyes. Nine students each explored a body of work that ranges from books to creatures, to graphic novels to digital identity and website. It is just great, if I do say so myself, as a proud chair.

Now, others have taken notice:



Sam Kalda‘s Men with Cats is featured on a Design Week from the UK.


















Jennifer Merz retells the tragic but important story of the Triangle Factory Fire in Sew Strong, and was featured on the Triangle Factory Fire Coalition’s site, here.





















More to come on all of the great things that have come about from this show!


Look Who’s Talking: MFA Alum at SI

landmarksThe project that Stephen Gardner, MFA ’11,  started in his first semester at FIT keeps giving. Stephen, our lovable bloke from the England, and now a US citizen, started drawing in bars around NY for his sketchbook assignment. On to painting those drawings, then, mugs, calendars, a stream of interviews, awards, blogs, all about the landmark bars of NY. And now, a lecture at the Society of Illustrators in New York to celebrate the landmarks of New York. This should be great! Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Click here for the info.