Assistant or Associate Professor, Illustration

Rhode Island School of Design
Rhode Island, United States
Salary Not Specified
Start date
Oct 30, 2023

Job Details

Posting Details

Position Information


Assistant or Associate Professor, Illustration




Fine Arts

Employment Type


Critical Review Track (similar to tenure track)


Position Description

The Department of Illustration in the Division of Fine Arts at Rhode Island School of Design invites applications for a full-time faculty appointment at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor, to commence fall 2024. Rank will be dependent on experience.

RISD recognizes principles of social equity, inclusion, and diversity as fundamental to its academic mission as an art and design school. We understand these principles to require ongoing attention to differential embodied experience and expansion of the forms of knowledge from which our curricula originate. RISD is engaged in the collective work of institutional transformation and would value applicants whose pedagogical and professional experiences have prepared them to foster equitable teaching and learning environments. We seek applicants whose teaching and professional work (creative practice and/or academic scholarship) attends to embodied difference as intersectional and centers on bodies of knowledge from historically underrepresented communities. We particularly encourage applicants who can help advance the institution’s social equity, inclusion, and diversity goals and those from groups whose underrepresentation in the American professoriate has been severe and long standing, including Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other People of Color, people who identify as LGBTQIA+, veterans, people with disabilities, and first-generation college students.

The Department of Illustration seeks an educator and practitioner capable of teaching undergraduate coursework centered on studio practice while addressing the conceptual dimensions of illustrative art and its relevance to contemporary professional practice.

They must be an able communicator who understands the development and critique of narrative imagery, and will preferably have a teaching practice and/or professional work that addresses one or more of the issues of contemporary concern foregrounded in RISD’s 2020-2027 Strategic Plan : promotion of just societies, sustainability, and new ways of making and knowing. In relation to these priorities, we are particularly interested in candidates whose research and/or practice centers on works and bodies of knowledge from historically underrepresented communities.

More than simply having an understanding of technology, the successful candidate should be capable of articulating critiques of technology and its use(s) in professional practice and should be prepared to design and offer new courses in conceptual, media, and/or narrative-based approaches to making. Candidates with fluency in using and teaching digital art are strongly encouraged to apply.

In particular, candidates should demonstrate flexibility in teaching a range of studio courses, from required sophomore classes in Visual Thinking, Visual Strategies, and Drawing, to advanced electives that relate to one or more illustration sub-genres such as Publishing or Design, Sequential Art, Children’s, Entertainment, Interactive, or Research. Additionally, candidates should be able to facilitate student development in critical thinking, especially in their ability to engage in discourse related to the complexities and challenges of contemporary illustration.

The successful candidate will have a strong professional record, characterized by a forward-thinking portfolio of work. We welcome applications from candidates whose areas of expertise and whose professional practice may not be in traditional market areas.

Required Qualifications
  • BFA in Illustration, or a BFA or BA in a related field, and a significant record of college-level teaching experience
  • Demonstrated ability to teach across a range of studio courses, from the sophomore level to the senior level in a way that fosters student development in critical thinking, critical making, and critique skills relevant to Illustration
  • Demonstrated ability to teach a diverse student body and employ inclusive pedagogies
  • Demonstrated ability to teach work that centers on works and bodies of knowledge from historically underrepresented communities
  • Demonstrated commitment to effectively mentor and advise students, including students from minoritized and marginalized social groups
  • Demonstrated ability to catalyze student curiosity
  • A strong record of creative practice, research, and/or scholarly accomplishments appropriate to the level of appointment
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively and collaboratively with faculty, students, and/or staff
Preferred Qualifications
  • MFA or its equivalent in Illustration or a related field
  • 2 years of full-time experience teaching college-level courses or 8 college-level courses taught on a part time basis
  • Compassionate and skillful educator with demonstrated exceptional teaching ability
  • Demonstrated experience in curriculum development
  • Demonstrated experience in undergraduate academic advising
  • Record of research and/or professional work that centers on works and bodies of knowledge from historically underrepresented communities
RISD/ Department Description

Rhode Island School of Design ( RISD ) is an undergraduate and graduate college of art and design with approximately 2,500 graduate and undergraduate students. RISD has a critical review process, which is very similar to the tenure process. RISD supports faculty professional practice with sabbaticals, pre-critical review leave, conference funds, and professional development grants. For more information about RISD, please visit .

The Illustration Department acknowledges the importance of images in influencing ideas, shaping affinities, and sharing information in societies. The ubiquity of images throughout time— despite their relative ephemerality—mirror and shape social consciousness. Therefore, as cultural influencers, we affirm that illustrators bear responsibility for the lasting social impacts of their work. We support and encourage perspectives from diverse backgrounds and artistic practice as inclusive consciousness advances into our curriculum. We hope to find a candidate who is committed to the Illustration department’s goal to create more opportunities in the studio to see and hear other points of view.

Founded in 1945, the RISD Illustration Program was established by RISD Painting Professor John R. Frazier (President of RISD from 1955-1962) at a time when fine art painting was distancing itself from realism and photography had all but usurped the mimetic role of illustrators. Illustration is RISD’s largest department, with over 300 students and 52 faculty members. The Illustration Studies Building is located on the Providence canal in the heart of RISD’s campus, with facilities for traditional printmaking, RISOgraph, woodworking, 2-D and 3-D digital illustration, painting, and advanced experimental digital practice. Our faculty has broad expertise, covering just about every area of practice associated with the field. Communication is the central goal of our program, with concept serving as the most crucial element in an Illustrative statement. The program requires a solid commitment to principles of art, design and critical thinking.

While the moniker “Visual Communication” generally aligns Illustration with Graphic Design in many art colleges, the Illustration department at RISD is situated within the Division of Fine Arts. This placement evidences our allegiance to the experimental and authorial instincts of independent artists. We have long-established and significant overlaps with other fine arts departments, particularly Film, Animation + Video, Printmaking, Photography, and Painting. Our program begins with a two-semester immersion in drawing, painting, and visual concepts that are foundational to many fields of illustration. Beyond the foundational sophomore year, students are given access to over 88 unique advanced electives within the department as well as classes offered through the college in other majors. We challenge students to discover who they are as makers—without striving to align them with established professional categories—not out of a lack of enthusiasm for the illustration field as it is, but rather out of the very logical assumption that our students may very well work in new media or fields that don’t exist yet.

With the rapid development of newer technologies like AR, VR, and the increasing use of AI and machine learning in the production of imagery, the Illustration department has been actively investigating ways to prepare our students to learn and use these technologies with artistic integrity. RISD Illustration has made notable progress in reorganizing the department’s digital offerings, largely along industry-standard lines: 2D imagery, 3D imagery, motion and interactivity.

Faculty Responsibilities

The full-time faculty teaching load is six teaching units a year. In addition to teaching, full-time faculty are expected to maintain a dynamic professional practice, serve on college committees, advise students, participate in curriculum development and other departmental and/or divisional activities and projects, and contribute to the vibrancy of the intellectual life of the college.



Salary Information

For information about base pay for this position, please refer to Article XII “Salaries” (p. 19-22) in the Faculty Association Collective Bargaining Contract 2022-2025 . The contract indicates the minimum base salary for each rank.

Pre-employment Requirement

The successful candidate will be required to meet our pre-employment background screening requirements.

Special Instructions to Applicants

RISD Faculty Search Committees comprise colleagues from within and outside of the hiring Department.

Please attach the following to the appropriate links in the section labeled “Documents Needed to Apply”:

1.) Letter of intent that addresses the qualifications and responsibilities listed above
2.) Curriculum vitae
3.) A teaching philosophy that articulates your approach to inclusive pedagogy
4.) Two syllabi (In one PDF, include two syllabi with culturally diverse content that model constructive and inclusive activities and discussions meant to foster student intellectual and creative growth)
5.) Portfolio of images of recent professional work (20 images maximum, in one PDF, the images should be submitted in slideshow format and include an image description list or descriptive captions)
6.) Portfolio of images of student work (20 images maximum, in one PDF, images should be submitted in slideshow format and include an image description list and contextualizing captions)

Applications may not be edited once they are certified and submitted.

File size is limited to 10 MB per file.

Only materials that have been requested will be considered.

The only links that may be included are those that refer to work already contained in the portfolio of images of recent professional work and/or those that refer to work already contained in the portfolio of images of student work. Links to time-based work are permitted. Time-based samples of recent professional work should not exceed 15 minutes, in total. Time-based samples of student work should not exceed 10 minutes, in total.

Names and contact information for three references are requested as part of the application process. Requests for reference letters are sent directly to the reference providers when candidates become finalists.

Review of applications begins immediately and continues until the position is filled. Candidates who submit their materials by January 5, 2024 are assured full consideration.

EEO Statement

RISD is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetics, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.

Posting Detail Information

Posting Number


Open Date

Close Date

Open Until Filled

Supplemental Questions

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

  1. * How did you hear about this employment opportunity? (List online platforms, job boards, referral, etc.)

    (Open Ended Question)

Documents Needed To Apply
Required Documents
  1. Cover Letter
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Portfolio of Professional Work
  4. Portfolio of Student Work
  5. Teaching Philosophy
  6. Sample Syllabi
Optional Documents



RISD is a college and museum founded in 1877 in Providence, RI. Today 2,620 students engage in 44 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, supported by a committed faculty and worldwide network of more than 31,000 alumni.

By cultivating expansive and elastic thinking, RISD equips artists, designers and scholars to generate and challenge the ideas that shape our world.

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