College for Creative Studies: Illustration


Stephen Kade

Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies (HFA:SCS)


As a teacher at the Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies (HFA:SCS), Stephen Kade is sharing what he's learned from his career as a professional illustrator with the next wave of aspiring artists and designers .

“My educational goal is to continue building a strong and rigorous art program that is competitive in the Detroit area,” said Kade. “With daily art lessons at HFA:SCS, students are exploring the creative arts more in depth than other schools, and that will eventually give them better scaffolding to solve problems in innovative ways. That will be very useful to them regardless of which field they eventually seek.

“I want to provide my students the resources to visually communicate their thoughts and ideas as well as creatively express themselves in and out of the learning studio. It’s rewarding to show different techniques that students may not have seen or used before. I love seeing the process of how they apply new media to further explore the creative arts and how it eventually strengthens their visual communication skills.”

One of the highlights of Kade’s professional career is being chosen as the Featured Artist of the 2011 Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair. Some of his other professional accomplishments include fulfilling a lifelong dream of publishing a children's book that he wrote and illustrated from start to finish and being asked by the Michigan Democratic Party to paint a 12' x 30' mural for the 2008 Obama Campaign. Currently, Kade is collaborating with a microbiologist from the University of Michigan on a series of paintings depicting the process of cellular destruction that will appear in a medical journal.

“It can be difficult to balance all of the facets of being a freelance illustrator,” he admitted. “Creating art is only the first part of my job. To be consistently successful as an artist, you need to be a great salesman, accountant, business man and marketer to potential clients and customers. Without effective organization, it can be a challenge to keep all of those areas going at the same time to propel the business forward.

“I can still hear my instructors' voices in my head as I analyze my drawings and paintings to look for any mistakes in perspective or figure drawing before I show my clients for approval. Their constructive criticism has elevated my work to the next level."

"And that’s what I think is key. The biggest lesson I like to share with my students is to always continue to push yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of. It’s in that place that you will always find your best work.”