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    Elijah Mazur wins "In Memory of Kazu Sano Scholarship"

    The New York Society of Illustrators offers an annual Student Scholarship Competition, and one of our Academy of Art University students won a $500 scholarship. Elijah Mazur, a 2D Animation student was surprised to learn that he won the “In Memory of Kazu Sano” award. Kazu Sano was an AAU alum who passed away in May 11, 2013 after a long illness. Kazu left a legacy in the world of illustration and especially in the hearts of those who knew him as an instructor and classmate.

    Elijah heard about the competition from his friend and illustrator, David Henry Lantz, who was a finalist last year. Elijah was impressed and decided to submit his own work. He didn’t expect to win since it was the first time he ever submitted to a competition.

    Mazur is a second year student, and he’s setting his sights on working as a pre-production artist in the animation industry after graduation. His focus is on character design and storyboarding.

    “Animation is a great way to see your ideas being brought to life! And a lot of people that inspire me are from the animation world as well.”

    Mazur’s inspiration comes from artists and designers like Tom Oreb, Kevin Dart and Paul Rudish. “However my biggest inspiration is Genndy Tartakovsky; he is a great artist and one of the most respectable animators out there. And we share something in common; we both are Russian speaking! And of course my family and friends inspire me to keep working.”

    When Mazur was asked if he was influenced by any of his instructors at AAU, he was quick to respond, “AAU has a lot of great teachers! I think there are two teachers who have changed the way I look at my art today! One of them is Adam Caldwell. He was my Analysis of Form teacher. Adam is a great painter and he helped me to be not as concerned about mistakes and flaws. That helped me to stop being so worried about how I draw and made the whole process just so much more enjoyable! And the second teacher who helped me a lot was Shaun Featherstone, who was my History of Animation teacher. I've never seen anyone being so invested and interested in what they are teaching. I've discovered a lot of inspiration and great artists during his class! And it got me familiar with cartoon modern, which is my favorite style of illustration.”

    Mazur shares a few words to motivate other students, “AAU is a great place to start your journey as an artist. As long as you remember why you are here and what you work hard for, you will be able to accomplish everything you want.
    Try to learn something new every single day! Don't be afraid of trying new things! Always challenge yourself, work hard and keep growing as an artist. Do more than expected; surprise yourself and the people around you.”


    "Priests" by Elijah Mazur


    Elijah Mazur

    Paving an Illustrator's Path


    Julia Blattman has lived in the Bay Area her entire life. An Academy of Art University’s Pre-College course in her Junior year led her to enroll in the School of Illustration, and it’s been a ride ever since.

    Her focus was on illustration that was geared towards visual development for animation and games. She put in the time to network, attended events and conferences related to the illustration field, and her efforts have paid off. And it’s no wonder that she’s interning as a concept artist at Disney Interactive in Glendale, California. She’s creating game artwork for some of Disney Pixar’s game apps, and she’s thriving on the positive and creative work environment at the studio.

    In school, Julia was especially inspired by illustrators Glen Keane, Dice Tsutsumi, Cory Loftis, Victoria Ying, Brittney Lee, to name a few. But she feels fortunate to have studied under the directorship of Chuck Pyle.

    She remarks,“He [Chuck Pyle] truly cares about how his students are doing and encourages them to reach their fullest potential. His dedication is admirable and it clearly shows through his work and his teaching. If the Illustration Department was Hogwarts, he would be Dumbledore.

    I learned a tremendous amount about drawing for film with Anthony Christov, Joko Budiono taught me how to tackle perspective, and there are many more instructors that had a huge impact on me. The experience and knowledge I learned from teachers in the School of Illustration is something I wouldn't trade for the world!”

    Julia had the honor of being a finalist at the 2015 New York Society of Illustrators Student Competition, and she exclaims, “The piece that got in was actually a homework assignment from Advanced Perspective! I also got to see Chuck Pyle accept his award at the Society of Illustrators as the Distinguished Educator of the Year. “

    Sometimes it’s difficult to gain the right footing on a new path, but Julia’s road appears solid; leading onwards and outwards.



    Girl and Alpaca, by Julia Blattman

    Chuck Pyle Awarded Distinguished Educator in NYC


    Left to right: Dr. Elisa Stephens President Academy of art University. Chuck Pyle, Undergraduate Director School of Illustration. Anelle Miller, Executive Director, Society of Illustrators. Tim O’Brien, President, Society of Illustrators.


    President Dr. Elisa Stephens, Chuck Pyle and student, Julia Blattman


    Chuck Pyle giving his acceptance speech at NY Society of Illustrators


    School of Illustration Director Chuck Pyle was awarded Distinguished Educator in the Arts by the New York Society of Illustrators on the evening of Friday, May 8th, 2015. Chuck is awarded this honor for the highest standards of academic achievement and for impacting the illustration field as both a teacher and an artist. 
    President Dr. Elisa Stephens, her brother Scott Stephens, Assistant Director of School of Illustration, Lisa Berrett, Arts Technology Director, Gordon Silveria and Online Illustration Director, Lourdes Livingston accompanied Chuck and his family to the awards ceremony held in the Museum of American Illustration Gallery at the NY Society of Illustrators located at 128 East 63rd St.

    Chuck expressed of his distinguished honor,"I am so humbled to be honored for nearly forty years of teaching what I care about so deeply, namely, Illustration:  The art of telling stories in pictures. The University has provided a great environment within which  to teach the next generations of illustrators. I thank  President, Dr. Stephens, and her family for providing leadership to maintain and expand the opportunity to teach, and for my fellow faculty for creating the team needed to accomplish the bigger goal of providing a great education in the art of being an illustrator."

    The evening also showcased the 2015 Student Scholarship Competition featuring the works of over two hundred of today's top college level illustration students. Three Academy Illustration students, Julia Blattman, David Lantz and Krystal Lauk were selected to showcase their work, and they were also present to receive their honors during the evening's festivities.  




    Online Director, Lourdes Livingston, Illustration Director, Chuck Pyle, President Dr. Elisa Stephens and students, Krystal Lauk and David Lantz


    Chuck Pyle and Assistant Director for School of Illustration, Lisa Berrett




    Jean Kim Honored at SCBWI


    Above: An illustration from Rabbit Moon, a story written and illustrated by Jean Kim, about a lonely rabbit on the moon who makes stars. Left: Jean Kim and her Certificate of Honor from the SCBWI in New York City

    "I believe that this honor gave me strength to believe in myself as an illustrator and kept me dreaming."  


    Jean Kim, May 2014 alumna from the School of Illustration Graduate School, with a specialty in children’s books, recently attended the Winter SCBWI Conference, (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in New York City. Her portfolio was selected as one of the two honors portfolios granted by the SCBWI.

    The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, is one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators. It is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia.  The annual winter conference draws about 1000 people and the portfolio awards are chosen by a group of industry professionals. As a result, Kim’s work was seen by over 200 art directors and agents and now she has the privilege to meet one on one with an art director from a major publishing house.

    "Receiving an honor from the SCBWI NewYork Conference was such an honor and means so much to me. I felt like all my hard work paid off. I graduated with honors with a degree in Illustration last summer. After graduation, I really didn't know what to do because my 'being a student' was over. I always knew I wanted to be a children's book illustrator, and I had a few pieces I liked in my portfolio. But my agent was skeptical about my work and not so supportive, so I was discouraged. Also, being a freelance illustrator can be unstable.

    "Therefore, when I decided to go to one of the biggest conferences in New York, it was a huge challenge for me. There were so many people from the children's book market; publishers, editors, agents, writers and illustrators. It was really overwhelming. And I saw so many amazing talented artists and their portfolios. So when they called my name on the last day when they were awarding honors, I couldn't believe my ears! Also, after the conference, I was contacted by several good agencies who understood my voice in my work.

    "I believe that this honor gave me strength to believe in myself as an illustrator and kept me dreaming."

    - See more at:



    Plan Now for Summer Expo

    It's never too early to plan for Summer Expo. This year's Summer Expo will be held from June 20 to June 28. You should seriously think about visiting the school to enrich your experience as an Academy of Art University student.

    You can meet your instructors in person, network and meet your classmates from not only from School of Illustration but from other departments as well. You'll experience studio drawing at our Illustration Campus on Powell Street as cable cars "climb halfway to the stars."

    Oncampus Undergraduate Director, Chuck Pyle (he is truly a character, an alum, and you've got to meet him!) and your Online Director, Lourdes Livingston will provide demos, work with you personally to address and get around those difficult areas that were giving you problems in your online classes.

    Jeannie Brunnick, Online Graduate Director and William Maughan, Online Graduate Director will discuss your graduate program and thesis direction, midpoint/ final review, not to mention classes and Directed Study.

    There is nothing like visiting the studios; each one has a different culture so it's exciting to experience which studio environment could be a good fit for you. Online students gain a deeper insight into the world of illustration to ensure their goals are brighter and more focused.

    You will have an opportunity to also visit museums, galleries and draw on location. San Francisco is a visual city and there is so much to draw and paint. Every day is like a unique light show with the colors of the golden gate bloom from a pastel dawn into a deep peach sherbet sunset. You could get some misty color effects with fog too!

    While the rest of the country is baking in Summer, a city like San Francisco is fresh, warm in the days and cool at night. Layering is key to enjoying a few days in San Francisco. We're excited to see you in June!

    Here's a link with more information.


    Online students were treated to a visit to Madefire Studios for a demonstration of the new Motion Tool.


    Online students in front of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, one of the two Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco.


    Illustration Students Honored for Animal Race Mural

    Last December 18th,  Illustration alumna, Carol Nunnelly , successfully completed teaching her Fine Art Mural Design course with a dedication and celebration of the launch of the mural, Animal Race.

    Nunnelly and her students Juan Ruiz (School of Illustration), Kenneth Malone (Fine Art) and Tim Andrews (Illustration) were honored for their outstanding work on the Animal Race mural by the Teacher Parent Guild, representatives from the SF Archdiocese, and the City of San Francisco. A grey concrete wall in the St. Brigid School playground in San Francisco is now transformed from dull and barren to an enlightened inspiration that is enlivened with spirit, color and heart.


    Photo and post by Lourdes Livingston, Online Director