New York Comic Con helps spur interest in arts, experts say

Students listen to working creators and get inspired to do their own work.

Every year at New York Comic Con, pop culture enthusiasts get their hands on the geek swag, scoops on their favorite shows and maybe even manage to meet some celebrities.

The experience also pays off in a deeper way — inspiring many attendees to explore drawing and design, according to experts in the city’s art industry.

In fact, professors at top art schools say they’ve seen an uptick in students over the past decade because of the enormous popularity of conventions.

“A few years of ago, I had a handful of students who just attended Comic Con; now everyone has,” said Floyd Hughes, an associate professor in the Pratt Institute’s communications design department. “They understand that is part of the arena of art.”

Werner Azucena, 22, of the Bronx, who studies graphic design at City College and has been attending the event since 2008, said his interest in animation grew after hearing inside anecdotes from creators.

“It made me want to try new things in the field,” he said.

The number of Pratt students majoring in animation, illustration and graphic design, went up from 546 in 2008 to 642 this year, according to the school. Hughes, who has worked on comics and movies, including “Highlander,” observed that the comic medium has gone mainstream and permeated other forms of entertainment. “Parents are willing to send their kids to art school because of comics. It’s not just socially acceptable, it’s financially feasible,” he said.

Nathan Fox, the chair of the master’s visual narrative program at the School of Visual Arts, agreed. Fox, who has drawn for Marvel and DC Comics, said the big comic movie presentations draw in attendees who then check out the source material and the men and women who create it.

“That’s a great place for current artists to meet,” he said.

“Artist Alley” at the con, where dozens of artists will have an open session to draw and chat with fans, offers another great opportunity for aspirants to learn and get a potential foothold in the industry, the professor said.

SVA has seen an increase of 179 in majors such as cartooning, computer animation and illustration, and traditional animation since 2008.

Learning these fields can be useful in areas beyond comics, Hughes noted, saying he’s had students at Pratt who have gone on to work in fashion, commercial design and other related fields.

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