I’ve known Marshall Arisman for more than 30 years. We met when I began teaching a book illustration class at the School of Visual Arts in 1968. Marshall had just become Chair of Illustration and Cartooning.
At the time the department was combined with Graphic Design and Advertising and it was called the Media Department. The school was a lot smaller then. In 1984, Marshall created the Masters Program in Illustration and I took on the duties of the Chair of Undergraduate Illustration and Cartooning. Due to our similar philosophies concerning education, illustration, picture making, etc…, the transition was so smooth, most people not directly involved were not aware of the change until after it had taken place.
We’ve worked closely together for many years and a strong friendship grew out of our working experience. We’ve had endless discussions about the process of educating illustrators. There are many reasons why Marshall is the consummate educator; he is an accomplished artist whose work is celebrated all over the world; he loves the process of making pictures; he is verbal, intelligent, and he cares. He teaches to the individual.
Each picture he criticizes becomes new territory to explore and understand with the person who created the picture; and he approaches it all with a freshness and enthusiasm that belies the amount of time he’s been doing it. I think that’s because he’s as good at learning as he is at teaching. Marshall believes that the learning process never stops; so he’s as good a student as he is an instructor. That’s why he’s so good at what he does.
There’s a simple rule for teaching people how to make pictures or anything else. You tell a person his or her picture is good or bad and then you tell that person why. Marshall has been doing that, unerringly, for as long as I’ve known him. I know he brings as much creativity and vision into his classroom as he does to his studio. Marshall’s teaching skills transcend time. He’s what good education is about.