Illustrator of the Week: Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney has illustrated over 100 works in children’s books and novels. He is the recipient of a Caldecott Medal, five Caldecott Honors, and five New York Times “Best Illustrated Books.” He is the recipient of five Coretta Scott King Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards.

Pinkney is from Philadelphia and studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art. He has been illustrating children’s books since 1964. In 2010 he received his Doctorate in Fine Arts from the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. He is highly distinguished in the arts community, receiving a lifetime achievement award from The Society of Illustrators and was elected to their hall of fame.

While Pinkney has graduated with honors in everything he has done, he is not without struggle. Pinkney suffers from the disease, Dyslexia: difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, or other symbols. Growing up in the 1940’s Dyslexia wasn’t even a word yet, and no one understood why Pinkney had such a hard time reading.

Since Pinkney struggled with words, he found a way to express himself through art. Pinkney focused on his talent, even though writing was still a struggle, he still enjoyed reading.

While facing adversity, Pinkney worked hard and became one of the best children’s illustrators of today. When speaking, Pinkney gives advice to the kids of today that may have their own struggles:

For the young person who is struggling in school, never forget there are many different ways to learn. Be curious. Do not be afraid to try. Do not be disappointed when making mistakes. You will discover your own unique way of understanding the things being taught. Learn from mistakes. Everything that happens to you will frame who you are, and who you will become. Your path to success will follow.

Pinkney has over 31 one-man exhibitions in museums across the world in addition to the six works that are featured in MUAM’s exhibition, Telling A People’s Story. The illustrations come from the following books: The Old African, Ain’t Nobody a Stranger to Me, Goin’ Someplace Special, Jump Back Honey, Black Cowboy Wild Horses: A True Story and John Henry.

Pinkney has worked with a vast range of clients from the US Postal Service and National Parks Service to illustrating and designing The White House Christmas Program for the Visitors Center. From 2003-2009 Pinkney served on the National Council of the Arts (NEA) and was on the US Postal Services Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee for ten years.

Today, Pinkney can be found working on some of his new illustrations at home in Westchester county, NY with his wife and author, Gloria Jean Pinkney. To hear Pinkney speak, come to the Telling A People’s Story Exhibition Conference on April 20-21.Registration is required. To learn more about Pinkney and his journey to fame visit his website.

Source: Pinkney, Jerry. Jerry Pinkney Studio,