Yaba college of Technology as is popularly known today started as Technical Institute which succeeded the Yaba Higher College in October, 1947. Following the recommendation of the Elliot Commission on higher education in West Africa, then students of the Higher College were moved to Ibadan to become the pioneering students of the University of Ibadan, the first university in the country. So in effect, the college is the premier Higher Institution in the country. In 1969, the Federal Government Decree no 23 established the college as an autonomous institution under the name of Yaba College of Technology. Again, Decree No. 33 of 1979 re-established the college along with six other new Federal polytechnics and named it Federal Polytechnic Yaba. However, as a result of persistent pressure mounted on the last civilian regime, the college was allowed to revert to its old name of Yaba College of Technology in 1980. The main objective of the college, according to the Decree establishing it, is to provide full-time courses of instruction and training in technology, applied science, commerce and management and in such other fields of applied learning to the needs of the development of Nigeria in the areas of industrial and agricultural production and distribution and for research in the development and adaptation of techniques as the council of the college may from time to time determine. In pursuance of this objective, the college has continued to develop structurally, humanely and materially. At its foundation, the Department of Art and Printing was part of the technical Institute, Yaba. Meanwhile in 1952, the Departmental was started by Mr. Paul Mount, a Briton.
At the time, Art teaching in Schools was almost non-existent and naturally the general public awareness to a department committed to the advancement of art and aesthetics was very low. Not until 1955 were defined courses in art and printing commenced. The courses include painting, lettering, basic design, composing, letter press machine operation and book binding. Patronage came from some organizations such as the West African Publicity (now Lintas Nigeria Limited) which pioneered the sponsorship of selected candidates for art courses, and for printing the other sponsors were; the Government press, Railway Press, Daily Express and Tita Tore press. Part-time and Day Release courses continued and in 1962 Full Time courses in General Art and commercial Art leading to the award of ordinary Diploma were added. Prominent Pioneer African lecturers who joined the white dominated staff of the Department were Professor Y. A. Grillo in 1962 and Mrs. S. O. Shomefun, a painting instructor at a later time. In 1965, a three year Certificate Course in Fashion Design was introduced by Eve de Niger, a British Artist and designer. The course evolved in order to provide personnel for boutiques and the garment industry. By 1970 there was a pressing need for commencement of Higher Diploma course in Art and Technical Course in Printing. In 1972, the plan matured and Graphic Design was admitted and corresponding admission for Textile Design followed suit in 1976.
A new turn in the printing programme occurred in 1977 when the course was upgraded to National Diploma level and admission commenced immediately. However, the first set of diplomats was to continue to the HND level thus the division produced its HND diplomats in 1981. While printing programme was getting a boost through its upgrading, a Day Release Course in Photography was floated in 1979 and certificate status was accredited thereafter. Another remarkable development of the Department manifested itself between 1981 and 1985. Fashion Design section admitted its first set of ND and HND student in 1981 and 1982 respectively. In addition, the old Department of Art and Printing metamorphosed into a school (faculty) status and was renamed twice as School of Art and Printing, and School of Art, Design and Printing Technology 1981 and 1986 respectively. Four departments emerged, they are Fine Art Development with courses in ND General Art and HND in Painting and Sculpture, Industrial Design Department (ND and HND Fashion Design Day Release Certificate in Dress Making and HND Textile Design), Ceramic course at ND and HND levels also after accreditation seal from the NBTE, Printing Technology Department(Day Release Certificates in the various Printing Trades, ND and HND Printing Technology), and Graphic Design Department (Day Release Certificate in Photography and HND in Graphic Design). During the same period, an imposing architectural masterpiece befitting the school was designed, constructed and commissioned. The edifice is believed to be the most beautiful Creative Art faculty Building ever commissioned in Nigeria today.
The realization of the building was made possible as a result of many factors with the foresight and untiring efforts of Professor Y. A. Grillo, Dr. O. I. Oshiga and the former Rector, Mr. G. M. Okufi. Notable alumni who have made tremendous impacts either in the areas of industry, education or social life are numerous. Some of them deserve acknowledgement?. Those who went through the Printing courses included Arc. (Chief) Ajayi Balogun, Chairman, Modulor Group. Mayor Akinloye Owolabi (rtd), Messrs. D. Oriade, General Manager Interpal Nig. Ltd., and A. A. Maku, Ag. Railway printer. Prominent among those who underwent Graphic Design programme were J. Elaiho, the Managing Director of Jeromeliaho & Associates Ltd., Victor Uwaifor, the famous multi-talented Nigerian Musician and Ajidahun Production Manager, Longmans Nig. Ltd.
In the field of Fashion design we have such personalities as Tony Jones Ogbechi, a pioneer student and currently a lecturer, Funmi Ajila, winner of Nigeria's Fashion Designer of the year 1987, and Peju Aroyewun, a pioneer make-up artist at the NTA. Textile Design alumni include G.O. Imo, a pioneer student and seminar lecturer therein, Ayo Obasanya, Managing Director Handtex (Nig) Ltd., Dele Aborishade, Managing Director, Delbol (Nig) Ltd., and Chief Fabrics Design, Lekan Otuyelu of CFAO Ltd.
Lastly, General Art courses attracted promising old students such as I.O.Oshiga, the former Director of the School, Dr Dele Jegede, Art Historian, Unilag, Mrs. Agbo Folarin, Art Lecturer OAU (Obafemi Awolowo University) Ife, Paul Ugboanugo, Lecturer IMT, Enugu, Dr. T.M. Akinwunmi, Head of Textile Section and O.A. Abiola (H.O.D) Industrial Design. Past Nigerian Lecturers who either went on voluntary retirement or who have served for a while and later transferred their services elsewhere are many to recall. The former include distinguished personalities such as Professor Y. A. Grillo, Messrs J. Raji, O. I. Osunade, P. A. Salu. J. Agbabiaka and Y. A. Lawal, while Messrs Benson Ake and Dr. O. I. Oshiga, to mention a few.
Currently the School consist of four departments: Fine Art, Industrial Design, Printing Technology and Graphics Design.
Fine Art headed by Dr. Ndubuisi Chinyere.
Industrial Design headed by Mrs A.B Lemon
Printing Technology headed by Mr. Jimoh Fatai Olayemi
Graphics Design headed by Mr peter ighodaro