The first year MFA Illustration Practice Studio is structured as a series of workshops and modules, providing students with a very broad framework to create upon, and preparing them for their thesis year. The Studio Year begins with an Image Harvest, and ends with the self-directed Independent Project.


First year students are involved in a variety of workshops throughout their first year. The workshops last anywhere from one day to 3 days where you learn new primary skills, then are asked to complete a Reaction Project that references something you learned and combines it with your own exploration and experimentation. 

Spring Semester
Stop Motion Animation

Fall Semester
Paper Engineering
Sewing / Digital Fabric Printing
Lasercutting / 3D printing
Branding / Pitch
Self Publishing



Image Harvest
Fall Semester

Image Harvesting uses list making and mind-mapping to discover key themes and ideas to understand what you love to draw, what concepts you are attracted to. In this module students develop 10 ideas through sketching and notation, present them to the class for feedback then bring the idea to final. This practice also yields many idea seeds that can be grown or developed later into new imagery.


Words on Wheels
Spring Semester

This project is done in partnership with the Maryland Transportation Administration and Baltimore City Schools. Children from grade 2-12 write poetry which is then selected and illustrated by first year ILP students. The poem and illustration are designed on to a horizontal transit poster, printed by the MTA and mounted in Lightrail cars and buses throughout Baltimore City for one year. ILP students meet the City school children at a project launch reception.

Art Market
Fall Semester

Each December, MICA hosts a 4-day marketplace where students, faculty and staff sell artist products. MFA Illustration Practice has a specially designed kiosk to display their work. All 1st year students are required to participate, with 2nd year students participating optionally. Students learn to conceptualize, fabricate, brand, package and price illustrated products for a real audience.


Self-Directed Project
Spring Semester

This is the last project of the 1st year which is seen as a prelude to the Thesis project. Students make a proposal of their idea and finalize it before the end of the year.