Otis College of Art and Design

Coordinates: 33°57′24″N 118°25′02″W / 33.956611°N 118.417135°W / 33.956611; -118.417135
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Otis College of Art and Design
TypePrivate art and design school
PresidentCharles Hirschhorn
Postgraduates60 (MFA)
Location, ,
United States
MascotOtis Owl

Otis College of Art and Design is a private art and design school in Los Angeles, California.[1] Established in 1918, it was the city's first independent professional school of art.[2] The main campus is located in the former IBM Aerospace headquarters at 9045 Lincoln Boulevard in Westchester, Los Angeles. The school's programs, accredited by the WSCUC and National Association of Schools of Art and Design, include BFA and MFA degrees.


The Ahmanson building at Otis College of Art and Design

Otis, long considered one of the major art institutions in California, began in 1918, when Los Angeles Times founder Harrison Gray Otis bequeathed his Westlake, Los Angeles, property to start the first public, independent professional school of art in Southern California. The current Otis College main campus (since spring 1997) is located in the Westchester area of Los Angeles, close to the Los Angeles International Airport. The main building (built in 1963) was designed by architect Eliot Noyes for IBM and is famous for its computer "punched card" style windows.[3]

The building was extensively remodeled in 1997 by the college when it moved from its original location across the street from MacArthur Park near downtown Los Angeles.[4] The Galef Center, made for the Fine Arts department, was designed by Fredrick Fisher and built in 2001.

A ceramics school was begun by Peter Voulkos at Otis in the 1950s and was part of art movements like the Craft-to-Art movement, also known as the American Clay Revolution,[5] which influenced the Ferus Gallery scene of the 1960s. Many prominent artists associated with Southern California's Light and Space movement were involved with the school, as well as leaders of the conceptual art world of the 1970s. Moreover, Otis nurtured significant Latino artists, including Marisol Escobar, and the mural group Los Four also originated at Otis in the 1970s.

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, A Division of the New School for Social Research).[6] This affiliation allowed students to spend a semester or more at the Parsons schools in New York and Paris. In Summer 1991, it became independent again and known as Otis College of Art and Design.

As of 2005, it is one of the most culturally diverse private schools of art and design in the country.[7] In 2022, the college received the largest donation in its history from the Spiegel Family Fund, which was founded by CEO of Snapchat (Snap Inc.) Evan Spiegel. The donation paid off the debt of the graduating class, 77% of whom identify as people of color.


The Economist ranked Otis College of Art and Design 6th among national universities in its 2015 ranking of the U.S. best colleges for 'Value of Education'[8] based on sophisticated evaluation method and by alumni earnings above expectation.[9] Money Magazine ranked Otis fourth for "Best Value Added College."[10]

Undergraduate programs[edit]

Otis is known for its B.F.A. degree offered in fashion design. Under the direction of Rosemary Brantley, this program is considered one of the top fashion design programs of its kind in the U.S.[11] Otis Fashion Design is housed at the California Market Center in downtown Los Angeles. Students benefit from working closely with design mentors and are trained in all aspects of the design process while emulating a fashion design studio, and following the industry's seasonal schedule. Visiting critics have included designers such as Bob Mackie, Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, Diane von Fürstenberg, Isabel Toledo, Isaac Mizrahi, and Todd Oldham.[12] Major designers such as Eduardo Lucero and Rick Owens are alumni of the program.


Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

Ben Maltz Gallery[edit]

Originally located in MacArthur Park, the Ben Maltz Gallery is currently located in Westchester, tucked inside the Otis College of Art in Design. The Ben Maltz Gallery showcases regional and international artists within the LA art community.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

The film Art School Confidential (2006) was partially filmed at Otis. Otis Foundation Professor Gary Geraths worked as a consultant on the film.[17]


  1. ^ Shultz, Tyler (March 10, 2022). "Otis College of Art and Design Announces O-Launch". www.apparelnews.net. Retrieved 2022-06-29.
  2. ^ "Otis College of Art and Design". Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. Archived from the original on November 8, 2018.
  3. ^ "The IBM Punched Card". 7 March 2012.
  4. ^ "Otis College of Art and Design Timeline/History". Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  5. ^ "PETER VOULKOS". ArtScene. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  6. ^ "Parsons and Otis: Art School Merger". The New York Times. May 17, 1979. p. 5.
  7. ^ "Otis: Nine Decades of Los Angeles Art Exhibition Highlight Lasting Impact of LA Artists & Movements" (PDF). Los Angeles, CA. October 12, 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 26, 2009. Retrieved December 15, 2008.
  8. ^ The Economist (2015). "The Economist: List of America's Best Colleges". The Economist. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  9. ^ The Economist (2015). "The Economist: Value of University: Rankings Details". The Economist. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  10. ^ "Otis College #4 in Money Magazine's Best Value-Added Colleges". Otis College of Art and Design. Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  11. ^ "Jackie Wickser". The Future Channel. Archived from the original on 21 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Fashion Design Mentors for 2007". Archived from the original on 7 March 2012.
  13. ^ "Harlem Legend Norman Rockwell, An American Master, 1894 – 1978". Harlem World Magazine. 24 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Dissonance to Detour". Shahzia Sikander.
  15. ^ "Resumé". Masami Teraoka.
  16. ^ Gallina, Raleigh (1 October 2019). "Centennial | Ben Maltz Gallery". Noho Arts District.
  17. ^ "Gary Geraths". Otis.edu. Otis College of Art and Design. Archived from the original on August 17, 2014.

External links[edit]

33°57′24″N 118°25′02″W / 33.956611°N 118.417135°W / 33.956611; -118.417135