The school's programs, accredited by WASC and National Association of Schools of Art and Design, include four-year degrees in the typical art school fare: illustration, fine arts, graphic design, architecture, landscape design, interior design, and fashion design as well as newer fields such as digital media, toy design, and interactive product design. It also offers MFA degrees in fine arts and writing. Undergraduate students choose a major in their second year, after completing a battery of traditional drawing, painting, composition, and construction classes in their first or "Foundation" year. In addition to studio work, standard liberal arts courses are required, although traditional history courses are replaced by art history.
The movie Art School Confidential was partially filmed at Otis. Otis Foundation Professor Gary Garaths worked as a consultant on the film.
Otis began in 1918, when Los Angeles Times founder Harrison Gray Otis bequeathed his MacArthur Park property to start the first public, independent professional school of art in Southern California. The main campus, located in the Westchester, Los Angeles, California, close to the Los Angeles International Airport, is anchored by the 1963 IBM building (famous for its computer "punchcard" style windows) and a contemporary fine arts facility.
Otis has been long considered one of the major art institutions in California. It is considered among the top ten in fashion design nationwide, often falling somewhere in the top five. Its fashion design program, with a separate campus in the California Market Center in downtown Los Angeles, is considered one of the top four fashion institutions in the world -- having produced major designers such as Eduardo Lucero and Jeremy Scott -- and the top fashion institution on the entire West Coast. The school was originally named Otis Art Institute. From 1978 until 1991, it was affiliated with New York's Parsons School of Design and known as Otis-Parsons (full name: Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design). This affiliation allowed students to spend a semester or more at the Parsons schools in New York and Paris. In 1991, it became independent and known as Otis College of Art and Design. Today it is the most culturally diverse school of art and design in the country. Its 1170 students, from 39 states and 26 countries, mirror the world as well as the emerging work place.
2005 Shahzia Sikander
2006 Masami Teraoka, Yamandu Canosa
2007 Nancy Chunn
2008 Mark Dean Veca
The Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College is a professional art space that presents group and solo exhibitions in a variety of media. The Gallery's main focus is showcasing contemporary art that pushes the boundaries of form and subject matter in the context of national and international programming. Serving the local art community, the public, and Otis students and faculty, the Maltz Gallery presents emerging and established Los Angeles talent as well as international artists.
The Ben Maltz Gallery oversees the Otis College's "Jennifer Howard Coleman Distinguished Lectureship and Residency." This program was created in 1995 in collaboration with the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation to pay tribute to the memory of Jennifer Howard Coleman, who was an artist and Otis alumna. The biannual appointment acknowledges leading contemporary painters by granting a residency at the College and by according them a solo exhibition at the Ben Maltz Gallery.
The "Otis Speaks" lecture program is also produced in association with the Ben Maltz Gallery. Free and open to the public, the weekly event series offers a platform for contemporary artists, designers, curators, filmmakers, writers and critics to share their projects and ideas about the visual world.