When I was a student discovering first what an illustrator was, then who the stars were, and then how I might become an illustrator, I used the Society of Illustrators Annuals as my text book. This was 1983-87, it was a world before computers, before Barnes & Noble and Borders, so to see new art you would have to look at the annuals or visit museums and galleries.
This mysterious Society held some mystical power in the industry as far as I could tell. I launched into the industry thought the Student Scholarship Competition in my junior and senior year. Out of that first bit of notice I acquired an agent (who still represents me) and a start into the business. I got into the professional exhibition my first year out and every year since. I know for sure had the Society of Illustrators not existed, I would not have been able to know what an illustrator could be or had a way to enter the industry in such an elevated way. I owe the organization my respect and support.
As the years went by and the world changed, so did the world of illustration. The web allowed a young artist to see whatever they wanted to whenever they wanted. The club portion of the Society of Illustrators receded a bit too. In 1992 I joined the Society of Illustrators and started working on committees in an effort to have an impact on my industry. I first became Education Chairman and did that for a decade. I was house chairman and changed the way the dining room looked and now am Executive VP and Museum chairman, working on what hangs on the walls and where the Society will go in the future.
One thing is a constant over the years and it's something I believe strongly in; the Society of Illustrators is OUR organization. In each era the illustrators who recognize the importance of community and the mission of the Society, support it with their membership. What do you get for your membership? Apart from some discounts for things such as events and entry fees, an illustrator supports the only organization who celebrates your craft. It will show your work, hold events geared toward your career, it will reach out to children in the community to show how amazing our industry is, and it will provide the industry a place to meet; our building at 128 East 63rd Street.
We all love getting into the Annual Exhibition, we love the recognition from our peers. What I hope for is that if you are reading this and are NOT a member, that you join the Society of Illustrators this year.
This is our era, the time when we can make our mark and welcome the next generation of illustrators. We are stronger with more members.
This year I was fortunate to have many pieces accepted into the Annual Exhibition. Among those pieces I have also been awarded a Silver Medal in the Editorial category. I am thrilled and look forward to seeing my friends and community at the opening on February 4th.