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Hamilton King Award 2021

APRIL 21, 2021

I am so thrilled, and honored by the Gods of illustration, to have this painting chosen
for the Society of Illustrators’ Hamilton King Award.
"Little Red Riding Hood," gouache on paper,
for Airbnb Art Director Mallory Roynon.

still one of my favorite little paintings...of course I feel undeserving and humble and I know there
are so many more talented artist that probably should have been chosen...but thank you all.

When I got the phone call from Tim O’Brien I was was really taken by surprise. Certainly awards are always nice to get, to reaffirm what we are doing as artists, but this one has some special meaning for me. It is in some ways a lifetime achievement award that can only be received once during you career. I think it was never on my radar until a friend, Goñi Motes, asked me a few years ago “how come you haven’t won the Hamilton King?” a haunting question that certainly had a way of putting it on my radar. when I got off the phone I realized I didn’t even know who Hamilton King was. (Of course he was the fabulous illustrator who was famous for those paintings of beautiful women on the collectable Coca Cola trays in the early 1900’s.
When you read through the names of the last recipients of the award they are in fact some of the Gods of Illustration. Victo Ngai, Chris Buzelli, Yuko Shimizu, John Cuneo, Tim O’Brien and so many more. It is a rather humbling task reading through the list. I am truly honored to have been chosen by these past recipients to receive this award. Unfortunately this year there was not an award presentation in person. It was a virtual event, not having an audience was a little odd. But the folks at Society of Illustrators did a stellar job making it enjoyable. It was fun watching all of the recipients do their acceptance speeches from their studios or homes. (or in one case what looked like the bathroom)
I want to thank the Society of Illustrators for honoring me this way. Lastly I want to thank my wife and life-long muse Lee for her support over the years. (Wait, did I say lastly, of course I meant first) and my studio mate Forest who has become an incredible designer and art director and under his eye my work has grown exponentially.
A big thanks to Mallory Roynon and Airbnb for this great project, creating archival images to support an article about following the Grimms’ Brothers Fairy Tales through Northern Germany. she wanted the illustrations to add the dark and haunting side of the original stories not shown in the Disney versions most people are familiar with. All of these paintings were completed on a tight deadline which sometimes can be beneficial and cause you to trust your instincts. A few of the paintings she had me pull back a little from the dark side but they never lost their creepy appeal.
I still have not received the actual award (maybe there isn’t an actual award) but even if there isn’t one, the honor is not diminished for me.
© 2024 Bill Mayer