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Academics . Illustration . Faculty

Illustration Faculty

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Kelsey Cretcher

Title Professor of Practice, CHair
Department Illustration
Phone 216.421.7000

Degree BFA Illustration

Kelsey Cretcher is a professional illustrator, educator, and entrepreneur. Kelsey is primarily a digital artist with a specialization in vector artwork. Her work has been produced worldwide by clients including Tuesday Knight Games, Holme’s Applesauce, Zox, and more. Alongside her freelance endeavors, Kelsey operates her own online shop, selling her artwork to a global audience. Notably, her creations have been featured on platforms like BoardGameArena and Tabletopia. Sharing her expertise, Kelsey has been teaching as an adjunct and then lecturer at the Cleveland Institute of Art since 2017.

Her specialty is in vector illustration and design. Her game illustrations are featured on and

Bill Appledorn

Title Adjunct Faculty
Department Illustration
Phone 216.421.7000

Degree BFA, Cleveland Institute of Art


James Groman

Title Adjunct Faculty
Department Illustration
Phone 216.421.7000

Degree BFA, Cleveland Institute of Art

After graduating with a BFA degree from Cleveland Institute of Art in 1986, James Groman was hired by American Greetings Entertainment and Toy Concept Division: ‘Those Characters from Cleveland,’ where he worked on the development of brands like Care Bears, Popples, Madballs, Blurp Balls, My Pet Monster, and Ring Raiders. He also conceived and designed the toy line: Barnyard Commandoes for Playmates Toys.

After TCFC, James established his own freelance studio providing design, sculpting and prototyping on products based on Star Wars, Harry Potter, Stretch Armstrong, Godzilla, Universal Monsters, G.I. Joe, Jonny Quest, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Star Wars, and various Marvel and DC comics characters for companies like Kenner/Hasbro, Cap Toys, Galoob, Ertl Collectables, Playing Mantis, and Polar Lights to name just a few.

James worked for four years at Hasbro Toys Playskool group on their GoBots/Transformers, Major Powers and Cool Crew brands. While being design lead on the Star Wars Jedi Force toys James had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco and work with the folks at Lucasfilm on the development and design of the line.

Back at American Greetings Properties, James worked on brands like Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and Madballs as well as new ventures like Sushi Pack and Tinpo for CBS, Twisted Whiskers, Maryoku Yummy for The Hub Network, Packages from Planet X for Disney XD. He is the Art Director for the Care Bears Hub animated series, as well as the new, Netflix series: Care Bears; Meet the Cousins. He also created the villains for the series, Beastly and the Beasties.

James had the honor of traveling to New Zealand to work with Richard Taylor and the team at Weta Workshop for a week on the film: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

When not teaching at CIA, James operates his own entertainment and toy design studio creating products for companies all over the planet. His partnership with the Japanese company Instinctoys on the King Korpse Vinyl Figure led to a Designer Toy Award for Toy of the Year in 2017.

James has most recently collaborated with DC Comics Collectables on a series of Batman figures and MGA Entertainment on Crate Creatures and Kingdom Builders toy lines.

Matthew Horak

Title Adjunct Faculty
Department Illustration

Nicholas Leysens

Title Assistant Professor
Department Illustration
Phone 216.421.7000

Degree BFA, Laguna College of Art & Design

Nick Leysens is a Storyboard Artist / Animator with 8 years professional working experience in TV shows, promotions, and music videos. Through his years of work, he has worked with Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, Shadow Machine, Cinemax, Adult Swim, and Fox.

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Nancy Lick

Title Adjunct Faculty
Department Illustration
Phone 216.421.7000

Degree BFA Kent State University; MA, Ursuline College

Nancy Lick earned her BFA from Kent State University and her Master of Arts from Ursuline College. She works as a freelance illustrator in the areas of educational publishing, greeting card design, and editorial markets. As a long-standing board member of the Northern Ohio Illustrators Society, she contributes to the organization’s mission to promote excellence and professionalism in the field of illustration.

Nancy has extensive teaching experience in the areas of Drawing, Illustration, and Design. She has taught at Baldwin Wallace University, Cuyahoga Community College, Ursuline College, and Notre Dame College.

She enjoys working in different styles and media and believes that illustration is a visual means of storytelling. Her love of detail gives her work a narrative quality that is appreciated by many.


American Greetings

Harcourt Brace

Publications International

The Cleveland Sight Center

Orff Echo Magazine

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Diebold ATM Services

Northern Ohio Live Magazine

Hospice of the Western Reserve

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Suzanne McGinness 171acf199cd879ca074cd08ff6fd57bc603ec0~mv2d48003600s42.jpg4.cover.resized.jpg

Suzanne McGinness

Title Assistant Professor | Chair of Illustration
Department Illustration
Phone 216.421.7000

Degree MA, Cambridge School of Art
BFA, Cleveland Institute of Art, BFA

Suzanne McGinness completed her BFA in Illustration at the Cleveland Institute of Art. She received a Master of Arts in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art through Anglia Ruskin University, England in 2009.

Suzanne is the author and illustrator of the picture book My Bear Griz, a White Raven Winner of 2012. She currently works as a children’s book illustrator and as faculty member for the Illustration Department, Pre-College Program, and adult Continuing Education programs at the Cleveland Institute of Art. She is passionate about the growing field of Picture Book illustration and the multi-dispiliary approach of creating sequential art.

Dinara Mirtalipova

Title Assistant Professor, Illustration
Department Illustration
Phone 216.421.7000

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