Registration for Fantasy Art Workshop’s Illustration Intensive 2019 is now closed. Please plan to join us in 2020 if you missed out on this event.

Fantasy Art Workshop’s Illustration Intensive is a five-day workshop for aspiring and professional illustrators who want to take their art to a whole new level in an encouraging and creative environment, all while getting intense instruction from an award-winning faculty with decades of experience in fantasy gaming, video games, editorial, conceptual art, children’s books, and more.

View the following video to see last year’s Illustration Intensive.

How it Works

We called this an “Illustration Intensive” for a reason. Over five days, you’ll be guided and inspired to create an amazing illustration for your portfolio in an intense but fun environment filled with camaraderie and creativity. Come prepared to be challenged. Illustration isn’t just about creating a piece of art; it’s about problem-solving to arrive at the best solution for the product, story, or advertisement that your illustration is accompanying.

You’ll be working in the medium of your choice. Digital artists are welcome. A month or so before the workshop, we’ll send a list of illustration assignments to attendees from which they will chose one. In the month leading up to the Illustration Intensive, attendees will work on the preliminary sketch or sketches for their assignment, which they will bring to the first day of the workshop. Attendees will get highly detailed critiques from the instructors about their sketch on that first day. Using that feedback, attendees will make revisions (it could take a few rounds), and then create their final drawing.

By day two, work begins on the final illustration. Over the next four days, attendees will get ample studio time to work on their illustration while receiving guided instruction and progress critiques from the instructors. Scheduled breaks will be taken for presentations, demos, and lectures on a variety of topics relevant to the field of illustration ranging from technique, building a portfolio, getting work in the industry, the business of being an illustrator, and much more.

Getting one-on-one instruction time with professional, working illustrators is an experience we know you’ll benefit from and enjoy immensely. For an entire work week, you’ll be surrounded by fellow artists from all walks of life, building lasting friendships and learning more about the world of illustration than you could hope to imagine. We hope you’ll join us for this wonderful adventure and life-changing experience.

Group photo from Illustration Intensive 2018.

The When and Where

Photo courtesy of Alverno College.

The Illustration Intensive will take place June 17 – 21, 2019, at the picturesque Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We at Fantasy Art Workshop feel that Alverno is the perfect location for this year’s workshop as this fabulous facility is just a 10-minute drive from Mitchell International Airport (MKE) and features spacious art facilities, catered meals, comfortable dorms, and easy proximity to amenities.

CHECK-IN will be Sunday, June 16th from 1pm to 10pm.

CHECK-OUT will be Saturday, June 22nd by 11am.

Special Trip to Lakefront Festival of Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Saturday, June 22nd

The optional Saturday trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum will be a special treat because the 2019 Lakefront Festival of Art will be taking place that weekend on the museum grounds. The festival features hundreds of artists, live music, food, and more. It’s one big art party! If workshop attendees wish to join us, they should schedule their departure time accordingly.

Artist Guest of Honor

We at Fantasy Art Workshop are incredibly honored to have Thomas Blackshear II as our Artist Guest of Honor for Illustration Intensive 2019. Mr. Blackshear will be giving presentations and demonstrating his painting techniques during the Intensive. Here’s your chance to meet, and get one-on-one instruction from, one of the most celebrated illustrators of our time.

Known for his dramatic lighting and sensitivity to mood, Blackshear has produced illustrations for advertising, books, calendars, collector’s plates, greeting cards, magazines, postage stamps and national posters. His clients range from Disney Pictures, George Lucas Studios and Universal Studios to International Wildlife and National Geographic Magazine. Thomas has illustrated 30 United States postage stamps, including four 50th Anniversary Movie Poster Stamps, the Universal Monster Stamps and the Mother Theresa Stamps. He also illustrated a commemorative stamp book entitled “I Have a Dream”. Seventeen of his original paintings from the publication were exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. and toured the country for eight years.

Thomas has also designed and executed illustrations for four collector’s plate series, including Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Star Trek and Star Trek, the Next Generation. He is known for his bestselling Christian prints produced for Day Spring’s Masterpiece Collection, including “Forgiven”, “Coat of Many Colors, Lord of All”, “Watchers in the Night” and “Liberty”.  In 1995 Blackshear created his most popular art line today. For 20 years “Ebony Visions” has been the number one selling black figurine collectible in the United States.

Learn more about Thomas at:

Art Director Guest of Honor

SooJin Buzelli - Art Director Guest of Honor

We at Fantasy Art Workshop are incredibly honored to have SooJin Buzelli as our Art Director Guest of Honor for Illustration Intensive 2019. SooJin will be giving a presentation followed by a question & answer session, as well as doing portfolio reviews.

A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, SooJin Buzelli has art directed and designed award-winning publications since 1996. Her visionary design for PLANSPONSOR magazine has been followed by art direction of many Strategic Insight products, including PLANADVISER and Chief Investment Officer. She’s received recognition from many art and design organizations, including the Society of Illustrators, Society of Publication Designs, Art Directors Club, Communication Arts, American Illustration, and Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. SooJin also received the Richard Gangel Art Director Award, honoring “art directors currently working in the field who have supported and advanced the art of illustration.”

Learn more about SooJin at:

Guest Faculty

Howard Lyon began his career studying illustration at Brigham Young University working with artists such as Robert Barrett, Don Seegmiller and James Christensen. Over the past 21 years he has worked in the video game industry as an art director, concept artist, freelance illustrator and gallery artist. For much of his career he painted dragons and trolls or scenes from science fiction. His work can be found in products from Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering, and Star Wars. He has studied art in Italy, France, and most recently at the Grand Central Academy in New York. Howard creates work in the fantasy illustration market, for fine art galleries, as well as religious and inspirational art markets. Howard has a passion for learning and studying the artists of the past and their working methods.

Howard Lyon will be a Guest Faculty member all five days of Illustration Intensive 2019.

Learn more about Howard at:

Mark Nelson is an illustrator, comics artist, and concept artist. He has worked for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Kitchen Sink Press, IDW Comics, Wizards of the Coast, TSR and more. Mark has also worked for gaming and visual development companies including Raven Software, Big Rooster, Emergence Games, Sega Games and Pure Imagination Studios. Mark is also a former Professor of Art at Northern Illinois University and runs his own publishing company, Grazing Dinosaur Press, with wife Anita Nelson, an incredible artist in her own right.

Mark Nelson will be a Guest Faculty member all five days of Illustration Intensive 2019.

Learn more about Mark at:

Core Faculty

Jeff Miracola

Director of Fantasy Art Workshop and host of its award winning Painting Techniques Videos, along with nearly a hundred art tutorial videos on YouTube and Muddy Colors, Jeff has been a professional illustrator for more than 23 years. He’s worked on brands such as Magic: the Gathering, World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, Planescape, Earthdawn, Shadowrun, Vampire, Werewolf: the Apocalypse, Star Wars, Mars Attacks, and more. Jeff has been an Artist Guest of Honor at GenCon, the world’s largest gaming convention, and won numerous awards including a Silver Award in Spectrum: the Best in Fantastic Art.

In addition to his work in the fantasy industry, Jeff earned his stripes doing conceptual toy design, editorial illustrations, video game design, children’s books, and activity books for Scholastic.

Learn more about Jeff at

Aaron Miller

Aaron Miller is an award-winning, world-renowned fantasy artist and illustrator whose richly painted illustrations have graced such brands as Magic: the Gathering, Star Wars, and Dungeons & Dragons. Companies that feature Aaron’s work include Wizards of the Coast, Blizzard, Fantasy Flight Games, Sony Online Entertainment, Mercury Retrograde Press, Catalyst Games, Posthuman Studios, and Alderac Entertainment Group, among others.

Aaron’s oil and digital work has earned numerous accolades and awards. His art was included multiple times in the fantasy art field’s prestigious publication, Spectrum: The Best in Fantastic Art. Aaron was MileHiCon’s 2013 Artist Guest of Honor and Best Color Award Winner. GenCon, the world’s biggest gaming convention, bestowed him with honors two years running: 2013 Best in Show and 2010 Juror’s Choice Award.

Learn more about Aaron at

Steve Prescott

A native to Cleveland, Ohio’s eastside and a graduate of the Columbus College of Art & Design, Steve Prescott has been a freelance artist in the gaming industry since the mid 90’s, working on products from such companies as White Wolf Games, FASA, Paizo, Blizzard, Copenhagen Creators, Hasbro, Animal Planet, Valve, and most notably for Wizards of the Coast where he has contributed heavily to both Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering.

Steve won “Best-in-Show” at the 2007 GenCon, published a book of drawings in 2009 called AGGREGATE, and then another called Steve Prescott’s Alphabet Book of Mythological Beings in 2016, has had work in multiple Spectrum: The Best in Fantastic Art annual publications, did all the illustration work for the app game SoulSpark, has done concept design work for D&D, Magic: the Gathering, Hasbro, Bethesda, Valve, and even worked on pre-production creature designs for the My Little Pony movie (yes, you read that right). Somehow in there, he finds time to hastily draw a cartoon to put in his daughter’s lunch every day.

Learn more about Steve at

Guest Artists

Jeszika Le Vye

Jeszika Le Vye is an imaginative realist painter whose work uses natural imagery to explore philosophical and psychological themes. She often explores the inner landscape of the character in her paintings, the unconscious mind, history, and choices of the individual to manifest their reality – their infinite potential for greatness or self-destruction – the figures who create their own realities for better or worse.

Jeszika is one of the founders and owners of Boneshaker Press where she co-manages Encounters with the Imaginary, a fantastical art anthology. The first two volumes funded successfully on Kickstarter and the third volume is scheduled to be released on Kickstarter in August 2018 with over 45 artists.

She is also hard at work creating her own series of books, “From Dark Expanse, the Stars” a series of illustrated stories themed around Egyptian Mythology. For these books, she has been working through all the varied, often contradictory myths that spanned thousands of years, and weaving a narrative that explores the different archetypes and themes the different figures represent, while also trying to breathe new life into the characters and make them feel more three dimensional.

Learn more about Jeszika at

Tony Moy

Tony Moy is a mixed media artist who focuses on watercolor and gouache. He has published art in books including X-files, Dungeons and Dragons, Tome I & II, and Memory Collectors among others. In addition, Tony has over 10 years of teaching experience and currently teaches illustration and design at the School of the Art Institute. His inspiration comes from studying traditional and classic watercolorists combined with the modern influences of pop culture comics, anime, and fantasy. Tony lives in downtown Chicago.

Learn more about Tony at

Studio Assistant

Melissa Sue StanleyMelissa Sue Stanley

Melissa Sue Stanley has spent most of her life in the small towns of northern Illinois, surrounded by lightning bugs, creek-beds, and dandelions. She began studying drawing and painting as a teenager at local art leagues and figure drawing workshops, and continues this practice today. Her work is collected internationally and has been exhibited in galleries across the US.

Melissa draws her inspiration from life and experience in the Midwest.  Memories of cicadas, storms, and endless fields are captured in mixed-media pieces that use all the tools in her studio. She also uses her work to explore themes of quiet magic and mystery – from bright garden kitchen-witchery to dark creatures lurking in the deep. All together, Melissa’s work is building a larger narrative about living a fantastical life in the modern world.

Melissa lives and works with her partner, Max Bare, in Chicago, IL. Together they create comic books and murals, go for long walks with Rocko the wonderdog, and host the Chicago Drink & Draw Social Club.

Learn more about Melissa at

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, we do. If you are a student age 18 years or older and currently enrolled full-time in college, you are eligible to receive $200 off the regular workshop price.

Some students have asked if they are still eligible for the event in June if they are graduating earlier in the year, like May. Yes, full-time students graduating in 2019 before the event in June are still eligible for the discount.

After you register, we will contact you for proof of full-time student status.

Absolutely! The Illustration Intensive encourages all aspiring and professional illustrators to join us no matter what medium they choose to work in. Digitally created art is a HUGE part of the current illustration field. In fact, even those illustrators that work with traditional mediums need to have better than beginner knowledge of using digital tools.

Digital artists will need to bring their own laptops or other digital devices they use for producing their art, including all power cables and cables needed to connect the device to a projector if needed. Digital artists must also have those devices loaded with any software they will need.

Fantasy Art Workshop will be providing a printer and regular printer paper on site.

Yes. On the last day of the workshop you will receive a Certificate of Completion. This is a great keepsake and something you can also present to your employer if they require proof that you’ve completed our workshop.

Yes, there will be free wi-fi available all week to attendees of the Illustration Intensive.

Absolutely not. You can be working in any genre of illustration. Fantasy Art Workshop is running this event, but the faculty members have worked in other illustration genres including editorial, book, children’s books, games, video games, and advertising.

No, you will need to bring your own art supplies. However, Fantasy Art Workshop will be supplying some community supplies to spare you the trouble of traveling with dangerous materials. Fantasy Art Workshop will provide solvents (Gamsol), mediums (linseed oil, walnut oil), and drying agents (Liquin) for oil painters, as well as the containers to house those materials. We will also provide Murphy Oil Soap for the cleaning and care of brushes for both oil and acrylic painters. White Acrylic gesso will also be available to anyone that needs to prepare a painting surface.

For additional art supply needs, there is a Michael’s art supply store conveniently located less than one mile from the Alverno College campus.

Digital artists will need to bring their own laptops or other digital devices they use for producing their art, including all power cables and cables needed to connect the device to a projector if needed. Digital artists must also have those devices loaded with any software they will need.

Fantasy Art Workshop will be providing a printer and regular printer paper on site.

Yes, you can. Arrangements can be made for you to ship your supplies directly to Fantasy Art Workshop and we will have it available to you on the first day of the workshop. Your package must be clearly marked with your name and that it is for “Fantasy Art Workshop‘s Illustration Intensive”. All packages must be sent to us earlier than two weeks prior to the start of the workshop. Please contact us to make arrangements for your shipment.

If you decide to work in oil paints or any other slow-drying medium at the Intensive and your painting is not dry by the time you need to return home, Silvia and I will store your wet painting at our home. Once it dries, we will box it up and ship it to you. Of course you will need to pay for shipping and handling fees, but at least you know the option is available for you to not have to transport a wet painting. And we’re happy to do the same with anything else you want to ship back home, like art supplies or a painting this is dry but too big for you to take onto an airplane.

There will be a form for you to fill out at the Intensive if you wish to take advantage of this option.

Attendees may call for a taxi or Uber upon landing. Expect the ride to be about 10 minutes under light traffic conditions.

If you have specific dietary needs, such as the need for gluten-free meals, please let us know. Our food services representative at Alverno has said they can accommodate most dietary needs. Both Silvia and I are vegetarians, so you can bet there will be vegetarian options on the menu, as well as plenty for all the meat eaters 🙂 However, we cannot guarantee that the catered, cafeteria-style meals align with highly specialized and/or very restrictive diets. There is a grocery store nearby and both a fridge and microwave in every dorm room, so please be proactive to take care of your special dietary needs and snacks.

Dorm rooms are single occupancy rooms. The residential hall that houses the dorm rooms does have air-conditioning. Each dorm room is spacious and features a mini-refrigerator, microwave, drawers, closet, desk, chair, and bed. Linens are provided and include bed sheets, pillow and pillow case, a blanket, and bath towels.

There is a shared shower and bathroom facility for women and a shared shower and bathroom facility for men. The shower facilities feature single shower stalls for privacy.

You can see facility photos further down this page.

Each dorm room has its own sink and mirror. However, there are two shared bathroom facilities on each floor, one for men, one for women. The shared bathrooms also have private shower stalls.

Yes, here are a few of the amenities:

  • FREE parking all week for attendees driving to the Intensive
  • FREE campus-wide wifi
  • FREE laundry facilities
  • FREE access to the Alverno Fitness Center, including the use of treadmills, elliptical machine, yoga mats, and free weights
  • Each dorm room is equipped with its own microwave and mini-refrigerator
  • Each dorm room has its own sink and mirror (Attendees use shared bathrooms and shower facilities with private shower stalls)
  • The dorm room is air-conditioned to be very comfortable in June
  • While your breakfast, lunch, and dinner is included with your registration fee, Collectivo Coffee is available every morning in the school’s coffee shop (but you have to pay for that coffee)
  • Each dorm floor has a spacious common lounge area with full kitchen for those attendees who just HAVE to make a casserole, hehe

Due to insurance requirements, the only individuals allowed to attend the workshop are attendees. That means anyone joining you on your trip to the Illustration Intensive must find other accommodations for the week and is also not able to visit you at the workshop. We apologize for any inconvenience.

2018 Workshop Photos

Facility Photos and Video


By attending Fantasy Art Workshop’s Illustration Intensive, you agree to our Code of Conduct policy and Anti-Harassment Policy. Please download these policies and read them carefully. Thank you.


Faculty and Guests listed have confirmed their commitment to attend the Illustration Intensive. However, the guest list and agenda is subject to change. Should advertised faculty and guests not be able to attend, Illustration Intensive will do its best to bring in alternate talent. Such a change would not constitute grounds for registrant reimbursement.