Course Dates: July 13 – Sept. 14 2024

Portfolio Development

Instructed by Dale Stephanos & John English

10 Weeks · 23+ Live Classes · Advanced Level


 – Dale Stephanos, Instructor

Course Details

Set your goals and hit them with a polished, professional-grade portfolio.

Prepare yourself to impress the art directors you most want to work with. Portfolio Development will give you the guidance and feedback to complete three to five head-turning illustrations. Led by industry award-winners who have worked for and with every big name under the sun—Newsweek, Time, Esquire—you’ll get close mentorship geared to help you succeed.

Your mentor won’t just help you progress as an illustrator, but as a professional too. With guidance on how to enter the industry, and how to see yourself as an entrepreneur.

After just 10 weeks, you’ll walk away with an Exit Portfolio to be proud of, and helpful, personalized critiques from some of the most respected professionals in the illustration industry.

Classes are hosted weekly, live and online. Your mentor will lecture on technique, skill, illustration history, and industry know-how. Added to that, you’ll join in for demonstrations, critiques, and Q&A sessions, with weekly homework assignments.

Key Takeaways From The 10 Week Course

  • Identify your industry and career pursuit

  • Develop a portfolio aimed at your aspirations

  • Branding

  • Development of personal style

  • Marketing

  • One-on-one coaching

  • Exit Portfolio

  • Industry networking

Semester Dates

July 13 –  Sept. 14, 2024


10 weeks (23 Live Classes)

Live Classes

Saturdays, 10am – 1pm PT



Course Outline

Meet your Mentors

Portfolio Development is co-taught by two award-winning illustrators & painters, who will guide you every step of the way.

Portrait of illustrator and painter, Dale Stephanos

Dale Stephanos

Dale Stephanos has been a professional artist for over 30 years. Evolving from cartoonist to illustrator to fine artist and educator, the only constant has been growth and change.

His clients include Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, MAD, Golf Digest, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Village Voice, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Boston Magazine. His work has been awarded by the Society of Illustrators, Illustrators West, American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3×3, 200 Best Illustrators 2016.

Dale is most proud of the fact that his two children have grown up seeing not one, but two parents who have pursued their dream and achieved it.

Illustrator and painter John English

John English

John English was raised in the company of New York’s most talented illustrators. He is the co-founder and program director of Visual Arts Passage. He is also the founder and director of The Illustration Academy.

He has received numerous awards from organizations including New York Society of Illustrators, Los Angeles Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, Graphis and Print Magazine. John’s work has graced the cover of Newsweek, the pages of Esquire, Money, and Essence, and the publications of Penguin Books, Bantam Books, Hitachi, 7-Up, NCAA, Sprint Corporation, and the Knoll Furniture Group.

Learn from Top-tier Guest Artists

Seven world-renowned artists and directors visit this class every semester. Gain access to their craft, process, and industry wisdom.


Assignment: Final Portfolio Art

Throughout this 10-week long course, you will create and refine finished work that is worthy of a career-ready portfolio. The focus and purpose of the finished work from this class is determined by your personal goals and industry of interest.

  • Addison Green

  • Tom Shannon

  • Ocean Salazar

  • Grace Aldrich

  • Aidan Holloway-Bidwell

What makes this Mentorship unique?

As a mentorship student, you will gain access to a vast wealth of resources to better your understanding and improve your skills. You will be paired with a high-caliber professional, who will be with you every step of the way.

Live Classes

Every class is delivered live and is fully interactive with lectures, demos, critiques, and guest speakers. Consider this your front row seat.

Connect on Discord

laptop image of zoom art class for illustrators and concept artists

Study Hall

guest speaker events with comic book artist, Afua Richardsons

Guest Speakers

Student Testimonials

At Visual Arts Passage, this course maximizes your efforts by not only guiding the development of your artistic voice but also clarifying your desired direction in the industry. Because of tremendous support and guidance from the mentors, I had an artwork accepted into the 64th Society Of Illustrators annual and started receiving paying job opportunities from real-world clients.

Erin RuffinoPortfolio Development StudentView Erin’s Portfolio
The class helped me start to really focus on what it is want to do as an artist and how I want to do it. Dale’s insight on the craft and the business make for a unique experience.
Luis GuevaraPortfolio Development StudentView Luis’ Portfolio
Dale’s class pushed my technique and process. Through the class I produced my first digital fantasy painting that I would include in my professional portfolio. The rigorous yet positive atmosphere helped give me the confidence I needed to take ownership of my illustration goals.
Aidan Holloway-BidwellPortfolio Development Student

Taking the portfolio development class with Visual Arts Passage was exactly what I was looking for to support my growing art career. I met so many talented individuals during the class that I continue to share my art with. Dale Stephanos and John English gave me the clarity I needed in moving forward in illustration.

Sydney KysarPortfolio Development Student

The program’s instructors are not only in the top 5% of American illustrators working today but are the most generous, thoughtful, caring and helpful instructors I have ever had. Each instructor takes his/her time with each student’s work, offering detailed, specific, clear and entirely useful commentary, all of which is crafted toward each students’ goals. Comments are always honest and direct, while ensuring students are made to feel valued, relevant and understood. They truly care about the progress of each of us. Additionally, everyone is treated with equal consideration. The quality of the teaching here exceeds anything I experienced in my MFA program. This program has made me feel motivated, energized and in love with the business of illustration.

Robyn StonePortfolio Development StudentView Robyn’s Website

Dales Stephanos is a great instructor and I feel like I was given very valuable insights on what makes an effective portfolio. Plus, the critiques and direction I was given helped me out in the process of making a portfolio that I could be happy with.

Alejandro PachechoPortfolio Development Student

I owe all my advancement and improvements in my work to John and to Dale. The way that they teach Portfolio Development is very holistic and tailored to everyone’s specific needs. I have never once felt shoehorned or forced into a box by my instructors and have only felt encouraged to approach my ideas as authentically as possible. The guidance given to me has allowed me to take more risks using my artistic voice and try more complex compositions, ideas, and themes fully knowing that I would be gently corrected if need be.

Ocean SalazarPortfolio Development Student

Payment Installments Available

Even though our courses are the best value, with the high caliber instruction and personalized mentoring, there are finance options available to make the mentorship program financially possible for as many artists as possible. Select Shop Pay or Affirm at checkout to view options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Portfolio Development is the third course in the Illustration Program and it's the perfect course for advanced students who have begun to build out a portfolio. The course is a 10-week long workshop to continue building and polishing your portfolio to prepare it for the industry.

We recommend this course for students who have already attended Ideation & Visual Storytelling or for artists who are already working at an advanced level.

We recommend against jumping straight to Portfolio Development, but for some advanced artists, this is feasible. We recommend booking a portfolio review here, but there is no technical requirement to attend a more advanced course.

The Mentorship program is a "get out of it, what you put in" experience. That being said, our courses are structured to accommodate individuals with a busy schedule. We recommend setting aside a minimum of 3 hours for your live course and 2 hours to complete assignments and course work. We highly encourage students to commit more time if their schedule allows.

We encourage students to attend the livestream whenever their schedule permits, however, this is not required nor is it essential to fully benefit from the personalized coaching and mentoring offered by this course. Every class we host is recorded and available on-demand after the broadcast. You will still receive personalized feedback on work submitted before the livestream.

Yes! This course is designed truly as a mentorship course. Your mentor will review work you submit for the course and provide feedback during or after class to help you progress, improve and develop your skills and portfolio.

Yes, all classes are available for download during your enrollment as a mentorship program student.

We recommend students enroll in only one mentorship course per semester. We highly recommend taking mini-courses, such as Color Theory or Figure Drawing in addition to Mentorship courses.

Need Some Guidance?

We can help you with any questions related to enrollment, portfolio development, and the student experience.

Summer Online Art Courses Start July 13. Fine Arts & Illustration Now Enrolling.