Meet the Illustrator

Jerry Pinkney

Portrait of Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney's method of illustrating is unique. He says, "I don't see things until I draw them. When I put a line down, the only thing I know is how it should feel, and I know when it doesn't feel right. I work with a pencil in one hand and an eraser in the other, not knowing what I have until I put it down."

Pinkney worked hard to become an illustrator. He won a full scholarship to art school and later opened an art studio with a few other artists. Although he has done many kinds of illustrations, for everything from greeting cards to postage stamps, he thinks book illustration is the most exciting creative process of all. "Books give me a great feeling of personal and artistic satisfaction. When I'm working on a book, I wish the phone would never ring. I love doing it. My satisfaction comes from the actual marks on the paper… when it sings, it's magic."

Jerry Pinkney gives credit to many people for encouraging him to become an artist. His mother recognized early on that he had a special gift. His elementary school teachers saw that he had talent and gave him drawing assignments often. Then, when Pinkney was in junior high school, his sketches of people caught the eye of cartoonist John Liney. Liney invited him to his studio, showed Pinkney his work, and gave him art materials to work with. This experience convinced Pinkney that he too could make a living as an artist.

What talent or interest do you have that other people recognize and encourage? How do you think you might turn that talent or interest into a career someday?

Photography Credit


Other Books Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

  • The Patchwork Quilt
    (written by Valerie Flournoy)
  • The Tales of Uncle Remus
    (written by Julius Lester)
  • Mirandy and Brother Wind
    (written by Patricia McKissack)
  • The Talking Eggs
    (written by Robert D. San Souci)
  • Half a Moon and One Whole Star
    (written by Crescent Dragonwagon)
  • Pretend You're a Cat
    (written by Jean Marzollo)
  • The Man Who Kept His Heart in a Bucket
    (written by Sonia Levitin)
  • Tonweya and the Eagles and Other Lakota Tales
    (written by Rosebud Yellow Robe)
  • Back Home
    (written by Gloria Jean Pinkney)
  • I Want to Be
    (written by Thylias Moss)
  • The Sunday Outing
    (written by Gloria Jean Pinkney)
  • Sam and the Tigers
    (written by Julius Lester)
  • Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman
    (written by Alan Schroeder)
  • The Hired Hand
    (written by Robert D. San Souci)
  • Drylongso
    (written by Virginia Hamilton)
  • Black Cowboy, Wild Horses
    (written by Julius Lester)
  • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
    (written by Rudyard Kipling)
  • Aesop's Fables
  • The Ugly Duckling
    (written by Hans Christian Andersen)