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Viktor Koen Named Chair of SVA’s BFA Illustration & BFA Cartooning Departments
July 1, 2021 by Maeri Ferguson
Viktor Koen

Newly appointed chair of SVA's BFA Illustration and BFA Cartooning Departments, Viktor Koen.

Credit: Andy Davies.

Award-winning artist, illustrator and educator Viktor Koen has been named the chair of the College’s BFA Illustration and BFA Cartooning departments, effective today. Koen will succeed Thomas Woodruff, who is retiring after 39 years at SVA.


Born in Greece, Koen received his BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. A member of the SVA community since graduating from the College’s MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program in 1992, Koen returned in 2004 as a graduate faculty member before founding the Summer Illustration Residency Program in 2007. Koen also continues to serve as core faculty of SVA’s MFA Illustration program. As creative director of Attic Child Press, Inc., he specializes in imaging for the branding of conferences and large cultural events. Frequently featured in books and publications, his prints and posters are exhibited in galleries and museums around the world and constitute part of private and institutional collections.


“I am thrilled for the opportunity to become a more integral part of SVA, an institution whose faculty and graduates are some of the most influential cultural forces I know,” said Koen. “This is an exciting time to take the helm of these departments, especially as we shift back toward in-person classes this fall.”


“We are very fortunate to have Viktor take the helm of two important undergraduate programs,” said SVA Provost Dr. Christopher Cyphers. “I have every confidence he will build upon the considerable successes of his predecessor, Tom Woodruff, and I look forward to working with Viktor to help him realize his vision for the Illustration and Cartooning programs.”


Koen’s wide-ranging work is regularly commissioned by national and international publications, with a client list including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, Esquire, Nature, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Wired, ESPN, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Fortune, Money, Forbes, BusinessWeek, Penguin Random House, Doubleday, Harper Collins, Rizzoli, Houghton Mifflin, Tor Books, Atlantic Records, Virgin, BBC and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. His solo shows have been exhibited extensively, including at the Benaki Museum, Athens; Type Directors Club, New York City; Coningsby Gallery, London; and Merry Karnowsky Gallery, Los Angeles. He is also a TED speaker, a regular lecturer for academic conferences, and serves on the Adobe Photoshop Advisory Council and the Photoville Board of Directors. Koen is the recipient of the American Illustration Award, the Graphis Gold Award, the Communication Arts Award of Excellence and has been named 3x3 Magazine Educator of the Year.


The BFA Illustration program at SVA comprises more than 750 students and boasts one of the largest illustration faculty of any school in America, representing an impressive multiplicity of style, mediums and approaches. Students are taught to conceptualize, structure and produce thematic bodies of work into finished projects ready for publication as well as a professional portfolio reflecting their personal vision. Realizing their individual style and aesthetic direction gives them an edge as critical thinkers with a tested personal process to meet both large-scale and nuanced industry needs.


The BFA Cartooning program at SVA comprises more than 150 students, with a faculty consisting of some of the most established masters and up-and-coming creators of the industry. With subjects ranging from the intimate to the epic, the curriculum covers a wide variety of styles including classic adventure comics, experimental graphic novels, autobiographical, Amerimanga and new formats fueled by multicultural influences. Students focus on developing personal brainstorming and sketching methodologies, along with training in perspective, page layout, inking and coloring, learning theory and history, as well as the mechanics of storytelling, plot development and the building of dramatic narrative tension.