Brian Pinkney

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Born in Boston, MA on August 28th 1961, to Jerry (himself a renowned illustrator) and Gloria Jean (a writer), Brian Pinkney studied fine arts and holds a master’s degree in Illustration. He and his three siblings were raised in an artistic and musical household, with his father becoming his mentor in art at a young age. He is married to Andrea Davis Pinkney, who is a well acclaimed writer herself. They have collaborated in many of the over 70 books that Brian has illustrated and/or written and they live with their two children in Brooklyn NY.

Brian Pinkney is a highly acclaimed illustrator, and sometimes writer, of many greatly praised children’s picture and story books. His work is mostly directed towards elementary school aged children and he regularly spends time speaking at schools and engaging classes in discussion.

The preferred method of Brian Pinkney’s illustrations is the three-dimensional medium of scratchboard (sometimes called scraperboard). In this distinctive fine art medium, the artist uses a form of engraving where small tools are used to scratch away the dark ink surface to reveal a white or coloured layer beneath. The revealed white surface can then be colored with oil paints if required for a striking effect. It results in a precise, evenly textured, and highly detailed yet luminous work of art. Pinkney’s use this unusual art form have been described as emotionally full of feeling, gentle and appealing while subtly intelligent.

Pinkney is choosy about what illustration assignments he will take on, being drawn to those that have a story or encompass issue that he feels personally involved with, whether that be fiction, non-fiction, or folklore. In particular he is drawn to illustrating African American books that share little known stories of the many facets of this important heritage and its rich history and culture (i.e. Seven Candles for Kwanzaa, Dear Benjamin Banneker, Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin’ Cowboy). Many of his books embrace the diverse experiences of black ancestors in many parts of the world such as Africa (Day of Delight, When I left My Village), the Caribbean (Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella), and southern America. He also illustrates books that involve his own hobbies and experiences such as boyhood memories (Where Does the Trail Lead?, Max Found Two Sticks), martial arts (JoJo’s Flying Side Kick), science fiction (Cosmo and Robot) and super heroes (The Adventures of Sparrowboy).

In his over 35 years of Illustrating (including decades of writing) Pinkney has accrued numerous Awards and honours. Some of his most popular stories are Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra, The Faithful Friend, and In The Time of the Drum.

Featured Book

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement. Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.


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