The Society of Illustrators’ mission is to introduce illustration and comic art to our community and the public at large. Each year, we welcome countless visitors from all over the world to our space, both in person and online. Upon entering the Society of Illustrators, visitors may enjoy our exhibits, hands-on workshops, lectures, artist demonstrations, film screenings, receptions, award ceremonies, and more!
The Society of Illustrators is an educational resource for K-12 students, colleges nationwide and adults. We offer guided tours and hands-on workshops that focus predominantly on the art of illustration and comic art.
Two years ago we expanded our workshop offerings to include programming for children and families. Saturday Stories is a monthly illustrator-led read-aloud, hands-on workshop, and book-signing series for children and families. The Society also hosts ongoing virtual classes for students with our Creating Characters program.
Separate from our hands-on workshops, we offer High School Career Exploration and Portfolio Building Workshops. We often collaborate with School Art League and Exploring the Arts students. During this program, students are given presentations by the teaching artists, encouraged to ask questions, engage in small-group drawing assignments and critiques, and discuss their work with their teachers to learn how to build competitive portfolios for college applications. They are given art supplies, textbooks, and graphic novels to take home with them.
The Winter and Spring Drawing Academies and the Summer Illustration Art Academy were created in collaboration with NYC Parks 20 years ago and align with the NYC Department of Education’s Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. They reach youth ages 9-13 in underserved neighborhoods and expose them early on to careers in art. During these programs students travel from their Recreation Center to the Society of Illustrators to learn from professional illustrators and comic artists different drawing and art making techniques. During the Summer program students also visit cultural sites throughout the five boroughs. At the end of each session, students are celebrated with an exhibit of their work. There is no cost for students to participate in these programs. Funding for this initiative is provided by government grants as well as generous private donors, family foundations and corporate donors.
The Society hosts several programs to benefit the community at large. In 2017, the Society created The Art Academy for Incarcerated Youth on Rikers Island. This program serves youth ages 18-21, with high-quality arts programming focused on visual storytelling. Each 2-hour session is taught by professional illustrators, led by Executive Director, Anelle Miller. One of the goals in creating this program is to provide equitable art education opportunities that enable incarcerated youth to learn how to reflect, create, express, and develop empathy for themselves and others. This program is partially funded by the NYC Department of Correction.
The Society has participated in many outside programs including the Art of Healing Festival hosted by The Thrive Collective, an event dedicated to healing gun violence trauma through the creative arts; Party on Park hosted by The New Harlem East Merchants Association, which delivers programs that put advocacy into action through collaborations with businesses, residents, and neighborhood organizations across East Harlem; The FIT Diversity Comic Con, an annual celebration of multiculturalism and acceptance of all colors, creeds, and genders in the sequential arts; Summer Streets, an annual celebration of NYC’s most valuable public space—our streets (Summer Streets provides space for healthy recreation and encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation); and Pet Portrait Fundraiser, an annual outdoor drawing event where illustrators and comic artists volunteer to create pet portraits to raise donations for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, whose mission is to transform NYC into a community where no dogs or cats of reasonable health and temperament will be killed merely because they do not have homes. At these events, we offer free interactive art projects, and give away art supplies, and books. In addition, the Society hosts portrait drawing sessions at area VA hospitals, and mural painting sessions and local children’s hospitals.
Exhibits & Research
Our galleries are where we hang curated exhibits and host opening receptions and award ceremonies. Exhibit highlights from the past include Illustrating Batman: Eighty Years of Comics and Pop Culture; American Patriots: The Tuskegee Airmen and the Harlem Hellfighters; The Art of March: A Civil Rights Masterpiece; The Art of Spider-Man; A Retrospective: Ralph Steadman; The Original Art: The Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration; The Illustrators Annual; Fashion Illustration: The Visionaries; and more!
In 2012, the Society of Illustrators acquired the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Permanent Collection. Since then, the second floor gallery, known as the MoCCA Gallery, focuses on curated exhibits of comic and cartoon art. Some of our past exhibits have included Funny Ladies at The New Yorker: Cartoonists Then and Now; Marie Duval: Laughter in the Age of Leisure; Shawn Martinbrough: Storyteller; and more!
There are over 3,500 works in our Permanent Collection. The Permanent Collection and accompanying archives tell the story of the Society of Illustrators and preserves the history of illustration and comic art. The collection was developed during the 20th century and It is our goal to expand our collection with art created by diverse and contemporary artists.
The library is home to a curated collection of books and similar resources. The library and Permanent Collection is open for research by students and professionals. If you are interested in making an appointment to visit the library, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Events (lectures, receptions, and Sketch Nights)
The Society offers many special events throughout the year including lectures, workshops and film screenings. While our physical space closed in March 2020, we created SI At Your Service to host the Museum online and to keep the community connected and involved. Many of our lectures and programs have been available to watch for free including Art Out Loud Online; an Instagram Live event where artists host studio tours and perform live art demonstrations, and lectures; including Starting a Career in Illustration, Self-Promotion and Entrepreneurship.
The Society is again hosting in-person events while continuing to produce virtual events. Safety Protocols are in place, including limited tickets and proof of vaccination. To see the full calendar, please visit our Upcoming Events section.
Sketch Nights are a long tradition at the Society of Illustrators. Artists of all levels come together to practice their life drawing skills, listen to live music and enjoy a drink. Sketch Nights are offered virtually and in-person. Visit our Upcoming Events section for the next date!
Many opening receptions, award ceremonies and community gatherings take place in our Main Galleries and Third Floor Hall of Fame Gallery, where visitors can enjoy cocktails, beer, wine or soda from The 128 Bar. It is a place to gather with friends, family and colleagues. Learn more about our events and space here.
MoCCA Arts Festival
Since acquiring MoCCA, the Society has been hosting the MoCCA Arts Festival, NYC’s largest indie comics, cartoon and animation art festival. With over 500 exhibiting artists displaying their work, award-winning honorees speaking about their careers and artistic processes and other featured artists conducting workshops, and lectures, the Fest and our artists exemplify the limitless aesthetic and social power of comics and cartooning.
The Society will once again be hosting the MoCCA Arts Festival on April 2 – 3, 2022 at the Metropolitan Pavilion located on 125 W. 18th St. More information about the Fest, including details about tabling, current exhibitors, and volunteering, will be announced in December, 2021.
The Society also hosts the annual MoCCA Arts Awards of Excellence. Gold and Silver medalists receive a medal and the M. Prize (this financial prize, now in its fifth year, honors artist Timothy Patrick Moynihan). In addition, gold medal winners receive a Wacom One tablet, silver medal winners receive a Wacom Intuos. To view a gallery of the 2020 Award winners, go here.
Illustration by Yuki Murayama, ‘Jazz’
Illustration by Katelan Thomas, ‘Shopping’
The Society is proud to host several prestigious scholarship programs recognizing outstanding college-level students throughout the United States. These scholarship programs offer financial support to selected students, as well as promotional opportunities to help them establish careers in illustration and comic art.
The Society currently runs four student scholarship programs and juried exhibitions. Our scholarship programs include, The Student Scholarship Competition, The Eisner Scholar, The Zankel Scholar, and the Joyce Kitchell Scholarship at San Diego State University. Our Student Scholarship Competition awards over 32 individual financial scholarships, and works accepted into the show are featured in a virtual and onsite exhibit. Scholarships range from $150 – $6,000. Our other scholarship programs financially support a student in their final year of college and includes the Zankel Scholar, Eisner Scholar, and the Joyce Kitchell Scholarship at San Diego State University. Funding for these scholarship programs are provided by generous private donors as well as family foundations and corporate donors. The awards provide financial assistance to college students from private and public colleges across the United States and Canada.