Tim OBrien
June 2011
Marc Burckhardt - Hamilton King Award 2011
The Hamilton King Award, 2011

I have had a fairly long career now and feel very fortunate for that.  In that time I've met so many amazing artists and some wonderful people.  Illustrators are fun to be around, though most are sardonically dark, suspicious, and ultimately so unpredictable.  Illustrators are a passionate group and have a great spirit and energy.  I've met many impressive folks. Of all the people I've ever met however, none have impressed me more than Marc Burckhardt.  This is a fan letter.
Marc is a uniquely talented illustrator who continues to grow as an artist and pour his knowledge and enthusiasm into his work.  Marc is also possibly the artist with the most sense, the most integrity.  Everyone calls Marc for all kinds of advice.  Part of his ability is to weigh any issue and make the most reasoned decision.  I've watched Marc write eloquently about our industry and issues surrounding it.  He is one that can disagree with someone without being disagreeable. 
Earlier this year I received a phone call from Anelle Miller, director of the Society of Illustrators.  She told me that Marc won the Hamilton King Award.  She knew I would pump my fist and shout my enthusiastic approval upon hearing that news.  I hung up and called a stunned and humbled Marc Burckhardt.  He was at a loss for words but clearly moved deeply.
Marc then gave me an award that no one else will win and one that makes me extremely proud.  He asked me to speak about him on Friday night, June 24th at the President's Dinner at the Society of Illustrators when Marc is given his award.
Finally, below is the piece I wrote for the upcomming Society of Illustrators Annual, soon to be published.
What does it take to be an illustrator and artist who will be remembered as one of the greats?  We all know that there is a steady winnowing down from the great pool of little artists that begin making art as children. Some continue through art school; even fewer finally make it into the highly selective and rarified world that combines art and commerce. It takes inner drive, character and the taste to succeed. Marc Burckhardt is one who has what it takes. He is an artist of unequaled talent and skill, who follows his own path and, in his own way, is redefining what an illustrator can be. 
Marc grew up in Waco, Texas, though he spent his summers in Germany. He drew inspiration from the refinement of Flemish painters and folk art—a unique pairing he alone would combine. Over his career has received numerous awards from Communication Arts, American Illustration, Print, Graphis and several Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators. Clients are all top notch and include Rolling Stone, TIME, Sony Records, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and many others. In 2010, Marc was named the official state artist by the Texas State Legislature and the Texas Commission on the Arts. He served as the president of ICON, and is on the advisory board of 3X3. The chairman of the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition,Illustrators 47, he is also on the Society’s museum committee.
The art that Marc creates is both unique and ubiquitous, simultaneously new and old. He makes ideas you’ve never seen before look as if they’ve always been on earth. Marc loves museums, and somewhere in his formation, his admiration for vintage set in. Perhaps it’s not only that his work would hang in galleries and museums, but so it would appear as if the work had hung there for ages.
Marc’s illustrations convey many things, but one overriding element is that each piece of art is important, iconic and a solid part of history.
To me, Marc as a person is a masterpiece. It’s widely understood in our industry that Marc is thought of as a sage and that he charts a course for many artists, both artistically and professionally. He is an independent thinker who makes reasoned and measure decisions. I don’t think a week goes by where someone is not contacting him with a career question. All of this lays out a case for an illustrator of substance, of a man who is admired and whose career is one for the record books. Still, it is in an even more rarified group he’s now in: a Hamilton King Award recipient. Although the award is for a single illustration, it is understood that it also represents an appreciation for a career of meaningful art. Marc could have won this award for at least a decade, and if this were an award that could be won more than once, he would soon be building a shelf in his Austin home.
Marc does not do this artwork alone, however. Marc has Janice, his wife. They work together, travel and dream together. Janice cares for Marc in the most loving way, and when Marc tells a story, it’s not “I” but “Janice and I.” They are truly a well-knit couple. I celebrate Marc’s successes, but in one way I find myself feeling tinge of jealousy. In the morning Janice wakes up, takes their beloved schnauzer, Gertie, outside. She makes coffee and Gertie grabs the paper and together they walk to Marc’s bedside to present him this cup and paper to start his day. It is the kind of advantage that seems unfair but Marc is my friend and I am learning to celebrate this particular success.
So now, on behalf of so many fellow illustrators who love Marc and admire him, let me congratulate him on the Hamilton King Award. He inspires us and raises the bar for everyone. 
Tim O’Brien
Hamilton King Award Winner, 2009

Marc and Janice

YES, their beloved Gertie. The top of the food chain.
An Opportunity?

We are all accustomed to receiving both spam from an alleged Nigerian Banker and actual jobs via e-mail in 2011.  The quick eye can detect the difference in an instant.
Today I received an e-mail that appeared at first to be an assignment.  Soon I discovered it was NOT an assignment but an invitation!
This invitation was to submit illustrations to a venture:
"We stumbled upon your work in the XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX book
and thought you might be interested in doing some design for us.

For the past year and a half we have been diligently working on a
platform that delivers high quality artwork to the theatre
and performing arts industry. Our goal is to make exceptional design
available to all theatre companies, from high schools to professional
venues. We’ve been building a library of poster designs for popular
plays and musicals. Now, we’d like to ask for your help as we get
ready for the official launch of our website in early Summer 2011. You
are one of several hand-picked artists that we would like to work with
to continue to develop the
XXXXX Studio library. If you’re
interested in learning more about this opportunity, and we really hope
you are, visit  XXXXX

If you know anyone else who might be interested in working with us,
please feel free to pass along this email. We hope to hear back from
you soon!

First name Last name
XXXXX Studio"
I don't actually know of ANYONE in the industry that would be advised to work with them, do you?
Theater poster work is an area of illustration with a long and important history.  Some of the finest illustrations and designs have come from the thoughtful considerations of both artist and designer.  These assignments are meaningful, pay a fair wage and benefit both the theater with an amazing and memorable image AND the artist with a living wage.
Since the e-mail was an invitation to pass along the information, I decided to offer the information here:
Congratulations! You have been invited to join the artist network at XXXXX Studio. We’ve seen your work and we think it’s amazing. We want you to use that talent to create super kickass posters for sale on our website. It’s easy to get started. Here’s how it works:

XXXXX Studio has the right to refuse any design submission
•    XXXXX Studio has the right to modify your submitted artwork if necessary (ie. color, contrast, layout)
•    XXXXX Studio has the right to use any part of your design for future posters (you will be compensated!)
•    XXXXX Studio has the right to use any part of your design for additional products
•    Accepted poster designs will be sold on our website for an unspecified length of time

•    XXXXX Studio reserves the right to remove a poster design from our website at any time

•    You will be paid $50 each time your poster design sells, with a maximum earning potential of $750 per poster
•    If we re-use any part of your design for another poster, you will be compensated according to the $50 / $750 plan. Let’s say you create a mind-blowing title that everyone loves. We might use it for three other poster designs, which will increase your earning potential by $1,500!

While posting this might mean some students would run to this 'opportunity', I hope professionals think long and hard about participating in a venture which drastically reduces fees artists would receive for theater posters, creates a stock source where artists do NOT control the usage or fees and finally might not quite be the same as having a talented artist and designer collaborate on a project where the best solution is worked out.
It's your own call.
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