Fashion Illustration Degree and Training Program Information

An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Fashion Technology or Associate of Art (A.A.) in Fashion Design program provides instruction in fashion illustration. More comprehensive education is available through a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Design program.

Essential Information

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in fashion technology or fashion design have a heavy emphasis on fashion illustration. In these programs, students learn basic sketching techniques as well as the use of computer illustration technology. Other courses cover fashion design, marketing and construction. Practical experience is emphasized, and students may end their studies by presenting their own fashion collections, taking the garments from preliminary sketch to finished product. In addition to typical prerequisites for college degree programs, such as a high school diploma or GED, these programs often require a portfolio of artwork, which may include fashion illustration samples. Courses and programs are available online.

Associate's Degree in Illustration with a Fashion Concentration

Associate's degree programs in illustration with a concentration in fashion provide instruction in computer graphics and illustration, visual art production, and fashion construction. Students may spend much of the program in studio classes where they refine their drawing, illustration and layout skills. Some associate's programs in fashion offer comparable degrees with an emphasis in illustration. The majority of the associate's degree program curriculum may be in general education and liberal arts, as well as classes similar to the following:

  • Computer illustration software
  • Typesetting and design
  • Color theory and use
  • Digital layout
  • Textiles
  • Fashion promotion

Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Fashion Design

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Design program provides more advanced knowledge in the elements of the fashion industry that involve the creation of clothing. The bachelor's degree program offers a broader fashion focus than the associate's degree program; however, much of the curriculum is still hands-on. Many programs culminate with a fashion show where students display a collection they have designed and constructed. Programs provide training in all aspects of designing and constructing clothing. Many also teach fashion marketing, merchandising and sales. In addition to coursework described for the associate's degree, classes may cover the following topics:

  • Pattern making
  • Draping
  • Tailoring
  • Computer-aided design
  • Survey of international art and design
  • Two and three-dimensional drawing and design

Popular Career Options

The education and design experience a bachelor's program provides can enhance the expertise and technical skills of graduates pursuing a fashion illustrator career as well as many other fashion positions, such as:

  • Apparel designer
  • Fashion buyer
  • Pattern maker
  • Couturier

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Fashion illustrators may work freelance or be employed in numerous settings, including apparel companies, fashion design firms, fashion magazines, newspapers and advertising agencies. Because of the wide range of employers, compensation varies significantly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that fashion designers will have a 3% increase in employment for 2014-2024 ( In May 2015, the BLS also stated that fashion designers earned a median salary of $63,670

Continuing Education Information

For fashion illustrators, a BFA in Fashion Design may be an end degree. People interested in gaining an intensive, interdisciplinary understanding of fashion and related technologies who remain grounded in creating garments may consider a master's degree in fashion design. Master's degree programs in fashion studies are available for those interested in engaging in critical analysis and scholarly research of fashion issues.

Coursework for fashion illustration degree programs typically includes hands-on work in drawing, designing and constructing garments. Job opportunities for graduates of these programs may include apparel designers and pattern makers.

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